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Public Health Emergency to End May 11

President Biden stated that his administration will end the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) on May 11. The White House said the announcement aligns with its commitment to give at least 60 days' notice prior to ending the PHE, the end of which means the expiration of waivers affecting nursing homes, home and community-based services, pharmacies, and telehealth prescribers of opioid-use disorder medication, among others.

 

NHSN Reporting Reminder - Feb. 1

As shared in the Jan. 10 edition of GHA Today, all hospitals that submit COVID-19 data will be responsible for reporting directly to the CDC's National Hospital Safety Network (NHSN) beginning this Wednesday, Feb. 1. The change will take place one minute past 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31 (in other words, at midnight on Feb. 1.) By now, all facilities should have made the necessary adjustments to meet the new requirements. Those needing further assistance can email NHSN@cdc.gov. Next, hospitals are reminded to go to the Update Facility Info link under your facility name in the EEI board and check the 'NHSN Direct Report' box. The state also requests that hospitals continue to enter bed counts and COVID data into WebEOC on a weekly basis each Wednesday before 5 p.m.

 

FDA Panel Recommends Harmonizing COVID-19 Vaccine Composition

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the FDA unanimously voted to harmonize, or update, all COVID-19 vaccines to make them bivalent and contain the same ingredients as the two-strain shots now used as booster doses.

 

New CDC Website Helps Consumers Locate Free COVID-19 Testing Locations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it has launched a website to help consumers locate free COVID-19 testing sites  near them. Tests offered may include laboratory-based nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), including polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, and rapid antigen point-of-care (POC) testing. Testing is available at pharmacies, commercial laboratory sites, community sites, and retail locations and results are available within 24-48 hours.

 

Bivalent Booster Reduces COVID-19 Risk for Nursing Home Residents

study from the CDC showed that nursing home residents not up to date with recommended COVID-19 vaccinations had a 30%-50% higher risk for infection than residents who were up to date. Researchers of the study analyzed weekly COVID-19 case and vaccination status from Oct. 10, 2022 to Jan. 8, 2023 in CMS-certified nursing homes. CDC said the study supports recent findings that the bivalent booster dose provides additional protection in people who previously received monovalent vaccines. A second CDC study of nursing home residents in Ohio and Rhode Island showed that antibody levels waned within months after vaccination after monovalent booster vaccination, whether or not an individual had a previous COVID-19 infection. After a bivalent booster, antibody response increased for nursing home residents who had been vaccinated for those with and without previous infections.

 

Updated COVID-19 booster helps protect against omicron XBB variants

In a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a single bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster provided additional protection against omicron XBB variants in adults who previously received two to four monovalent vaccine doses. XBB-related variants account for over half of currently circulating COVID-19 variants in the United States.

 

FDA Committee to Vote on Simplifying COVID-19 Vaccine Use

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee of the FDA will vote tomorrow on whether to simplify COVID-19 vaccine use so that all primary series and booster doses would be bivalent. The committee will also discuss periodic updates to COVID-19 vaccines as well as the possible approval of a two-dose series for certain at-risk populations and only one dose for all other individuals.

 

FDA Releases Guidance for Compounding Fever-Reducing Products

As hospitals work to meet the demand for fever-reducing products for patients unable to swallow solid oral dosing forms, the FDA announced it has released guidance for outsourcing facilities compounding certain ibuprofen oral suspension products. The guidance is an effort to improve the supply of ibuprofen oral suspension products amid record high demand due to the surges of COVID-19, RSV and influenza patients that hospitals are treating.

 

New CDC dashboards track hospital stays, ED visits for COVID-19, flu and RSV

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a dashboard tracking hospitalization rates for laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus by age group, sex, race/ethnicity, state and season based on data from select counties in 13 states, which the agency will update weekly. CDC also released another dashboard tracking weekly emergency department visits for COVID-19, flu and RSV by age group and percent of all ED visits based on data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program.

 

FEMA Streamlines Funding Procedures and Allows Retroactive Agreements

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the Public Assistance Simplified Procedures policy, which facilitates implementation of the Public Assistance (PA) program by streamlining documentation requirements and overall simplifying procedures. The PA program provides disaster response grants to non-profit health care organizations and others. Additionally, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, the program will allow nonprofit health care facilities to sign retroactive agreements with their state or local governments to fund certain eligible emergency work, including reimbursement for child care services and shared transportation services provided to health care workers early in the pandemic.

 

HHS Renews Public Health Emergency Declaration

On Jan. 11, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services renewed the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration for another 90 days due to concerns about the highly transmissible omicron subvariant.

 

DPH Statement: Hospital Federal Reporting Changes

Please see below a statement from the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) about recent changes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made to COVID-19 data reporting requirements.

DPH Statement

HHS has recently made changes to the federal hospital reporting system. These changes place limitations on states being able to report on behalf of hospitals without potentially duplicating or deleting data. To ensure data is accurately reported to HHS, all hospitals must begin reporting covid and other required health care data to the National Hospital Safety Network (NHSN) by Feb. 1, 2023. After the effective date, DPH will no longer report covid data to HHS on the hospitals' behalf. The covid data reported by hospitals to NHSN will continue to feed the HHS Protect hospital dashboard used by the Governor's office and others for situational awareness.  

We appreciate the hospitals' cooperation over the last three years in reporting data to WebEOC and we ask that you maintain your WebEOC credentials as there will be instances when data may be requested for state-specific situational awareness. 

If there are questions about access to NHSN, contact NHSN@cdc.gov. If you have any other questions, please contact Kelly Nadeau at Kelly.nadeau@dph.ga.gov.

 

Evusheld May Not Prevent XBB.1.5 COVID-19 Subvariant in Certain Patients

The FDA announced that Evusheld may not prevent COVID-19 in immunocompromised individuals exposed to the XBB.1.5 omicron subvariant, because the treatment has failed to neutralize similar subvariants. FDA recommends that health care providers inform patients about this risk and advise them to test for COVID-19 and seek medical attention if they develop symptoms. XBB.1.5 currently accounts for about 28% of SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating in the U.S.

 

NIH Launches Home Test to Treat

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that, in collaboration with the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), it has launched the Home Test to Treat program, a virtual community health intervention that will provide to selected communities free COVID-19 health services, including at-home rapid tests, telehealth sessions, and at-home treatments. The program will make antiviral treatment available for eligible individuals who receive a positive test result.

 

Study on COVID Vaccination in Children With History of MIS-C

A study in JAMA Internal Medicine reported that children and adolescents previously diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) (a rare and potentially fatal immune reaction to SARS-CoV-2 infection) reported no serious complications after COVID-19 vaccination. Almost all participants received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The study consisted of 385 patients aged 5 years or older with prior MIS-C who were eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Of those patients, 48% received at least one dose. Mild adverse reactions occurred in 49% (most often arm soreness [34%] and/or fatigue [17%]), and no patients reported any serious adverse events, including myocarditis or recurrence of MIS-C.