January COVID-19 News

By January 5, 2021 No Comments

54% of Americans think employers should require COVID-19 vaccine

“As the vaccination process begins, there are a lot of issues to consider. And the question as to what level of involvement employers should be taking is one of the hardest to navigate. In a survey of 2,000 adults in the U.S in November, Skyes, a solutions provider, asked if employers should require non-remote employees to take the vaccine and 54% said yes.”

Where’s my PPE?

“The novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its rapid emergence as a pandemic have highlighted issues relating to the production and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE),” according to the Congressional Research Studies.

“Given the role that PPE plays in mitigating the spread and reducing the impacts of COVID-19, PPE demand has spiked both globally and domestically while supply has been undercut by both rapid consumption as well as supply chain disruptions.  

“According to multiple federal agencies, including the Government Accountability Office, the Food and Drug Administration, and various independent organizations, PPE continues to be in short supply, which has led to broad congressional and public interest in PPE production and distribution issues.  

The availability of effective PPE is critical to the ongoing pandemic response, but also has broader public health, emergency preparedness, and national security implications.  This report considers aspects of domestic production and distribution of PPE in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Specifically, the report considers (1) the availability of PPE supplies, including an assessment of PPE demand related to the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) federal actions and activities undertaken to increase PPE supplies in response to the pandemic, organized by executive agency and program; and (3) other policy options under consideration concerning PPE production and distribution, also organized by executive agency and program.”  

U.S. faces nitrile glove shortage ahead of national COVID-19 vaccination effort

In hospitals, medical clinics, and doctor’s offices across America the need for personal protective equipment, or PPE, has not waned since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to CBS News.

Requisite items including N95 respirators, gowns, and nitrile gloves have seen dramatic price increases since March as demand surged and supply levels lagged. A result of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

In a November report to Congressional committees, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found the national stockpile of gloves dropped from 16.9 million in December 2019 to 2 million in October 2020. 

The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that OSHA regulations have not typically required gloves to be worn when administering vaccines unless the person administering the vaccine is likely to come in contact with potentially infectious body fluids or has open lesions on the hands. In the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic, gloves should be worn when administering intranasal or oral vaccines. The CDC notes that if gloves are worn while administering a vaccine the healthcare worker should change them between each patient and observe proper hand-washing hygiene.

California’s COVID enforcement strategy: education over citations

Nearly six months since Gov. Gavin Newsom promised to target businesses that are flagrantly violating public health orders to control the spread of COVID-19, California regulators have issued just 424 citations and suspended two business licenses as of Dec, 21, according to data from ten state regulatory and law enforcement agencies, according to Kaiser Health News.

Enforcement at bars and restaurants where alcohol is served, identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as among the highest-risk environments for COVID transmission, has been limited, data shows. The state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which can issue criminal misdemeanor citations, fine businesses and revoke liquor licenses, has issued just 45 citations against bars and 119 against restaurants since July. No fines have been issued or licenses revoked for the 94,000 businesses it regulates.

Most of California is under a mandatory stay-at-home order, which prohibits indoor and outdoor dining and requires closure of a wide swath of businesses, from barbershops to wineries. Retail operations are limited to 20% capacity and churches must hold services outside.

Healthcare workers prioritized as California begins vaccine rollout

California began receiving its initial batch of roughly 325,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine the week of Dec. 21, according to The Guardian (UK). In the first phase of the vaccine’s distribution, officials are prioritizing healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities, with the goal of giving out at least 2m doses by the end of the month.

Officials have said the following phase will prioritize essential workers and others at high risk of becoming infected or seriously ill, but it’s still unclear when the state will be able to move to the next tier or who will fall under the broad categories it has outlined for phase two. California has not yet detailed what labor is essential.

There are ongoing efforts to secure early access for childcare workers, grocery and warehouse workers and in-person retail employees. Advocates for public sector employees, including teachers and transportation workers, have also argued they should be at the front of the line.

FDA authorizes first at-home, over-the-counter COVID-19 test

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first test for COVID-19 that can be purchased at drug stores without a prescription and taken at home., according to a report by NBC News.

The test, developed by the Australian digital diagnostics company Ellume, received emergency use authorization from the FDA. The test does not require sending samples to a lab, similar to how at-home pregnancy tests work.

The Ellume Covid-19 Home Test is an antigen test, which is designed to detect fragments of viral proteins that trigger an immune response in the body. Results are delivered via a smartphone app in as little as 20 minutes, according to the company.

The test involves collecting a sample with a nasal swab that users then place into a Bluetooth-connected analyzer that syncs with a smartphone app. Results are delivered through the app and can be shared with health care professionals, according to Ellume.

The at-home test correctly identified 96 percent of positive samples and 100 percent of negative samples in people with symptoms of Covid-19, the FDA said. In people who are not symptomatic, the test correctly identified 91 percent of positive samples and 96 percent of negative samples.

Since diagnostic tests can also deliver false negatives, the FDA recommended that any person who tests negative but experiences Covid-19-like symptoms should consult with their health care provider.

Gov. Newsom Launches “Vaccinate All 58” Campaign as First Vaccines Arrive in California

California Governor Gavin Newsom recently launched “Vaccinate All 58,” California’s campaign for a safe, fair and equitable vaccine for all 58 counties in the state, as the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in the state, according to connect california. 

Vaccines will be administered in phases by prioritizing groups according to risk and level of exposure across the state. Initial doses will go to California’s essential health care workers and those among the most vulnerable in long-term care settings. The state received the first 33,000 doses of the 325,000 expected from Pfizer.

California Governor Gavin Newsom relaxes quarantine rules for COVID-exposed workers

California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order altering the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 related worker quarantines, according to Deadline.

Here are some pertinent passages from the new CDPH guidelines:

  • All asymptomatic close contacts (within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) may discontinue quarantine after Day 10 from the date of last exposure with or without testing.
  • During critical staffing shortages when there are not enough staff to provide safe patient care, essential critical infrastructure workers in the following categories are not prohibited from returning after Day 7 from the date of last exposure if they have received a negative PCR test result from a specimen collected after Day 5:

Exposed asymptomatic health care workers; and

Exposed asymptomatic emergency response and social service workers who work face to face with clients in the child welfare system or in assisted living facilities.

L.A. COVID-19 Update: County Attempting to vaccinate 6 million people in 6 months — and it may not be enough

Los Angeles County’s initial allotment of vaccine is expected to be nearly 83,000 doses. The vaccines will be dispersed to nine ultra-cold storage facilities — the locations of which are not being released due to security concerns, although some hospitals have publicly stated they would be handling the medication. Those facilities will then distribute the doses to 83 acute-care hospitals, which will then oversee its administration to selected critical frontline workers.

The Pfizer vaccine was co-developed by German partner BioNTech. It needs to be stored at minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit.

Last week, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that the county hopes to receive its second allotment of a vaccine made by Moderna — about 250,000 doses, pending FDA approval — around Dec. 20-21. Much of that second dose allotment will be distributed directly to skilled nursing facilities, allowing them to administer it right away instead of waiting for a federal distribution agreement with CVS and Walgreens to begin on roughly Dec. 28.

Staff and residents of nursing facilities and long-term care facilities will be among the first wave of people receiving the Moderna vaccine, which does not require the ultra-cold storage needed for the Pfizer vaccine.

Experts do not know what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.

National Safety Council Report: Here’s how COVID-19 will fundamentally alter the future world of work

A new National Safety Council report found continued remote work, increased focus on flexible work arrangements and mental health, and a renewed commitment to workplace safety to be among the most impactful workplace changes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on in-depth interviews with safety, medical and health experts representing 13 industries, the State of the Response: The Future World of Work report also identified key factors business leaders must take into account moving forward.

The most impactful workplace shifts include:

  • Operations – moving to remote work arrangements for as many employees as possible
  • Human Resources – providing flexible work arrangements (e.g., hours, days, scheduling)
  • Stress, Mental Health and Wellbeing – promoting or increasing employee assistance program (EAP) benefit offerings
  • Communications – providing regular communication via multiple channels
  • Organizational Culture – increasing focus on safety and health using COVID-19 as a catalyst
  • Technology – increasing use of mobile app software to track infections
  • Sustainability – rethinking the need for physical space and travel

The new report aims to serve as a foundation for organizations looking to navigate the future world of work post-pandemic. Based on the findings, NSC included in the report a framework for addressing three critical issues moving forward: work modalities, such as how to address remote work and flexible schedules; worker expectations, such as investing in mental health resources and employee support; and work enablers, such as embracing technology to help augment job tasks.  


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