Coronavirus Update – March 25, 2020

Coronavirus Update

Your coronavirus update for March 25; stay updated on the crisis with Elite

Coronavirus update: more than 417,000 cases of  COVID-19 have been diagnosed as of Tuesday evening, including more than 18,000 deaths. Healthcare officials in the United States have reported more than 50,000 positive COVID-19 patients and more than 650 deaths — with numbers still anticipated to escalate before government-enacted stay-at-home and business closure methods taken recently produce any significant effects.

With the World Health Organization claiming recently that the U.S. could overtake the likes of China and Italy as the epicenter of the virus, concerns are mounting, including for an increasing number of healthcare providers who continue to make up the growing number of those infected. With safety and infection control supplies such as masks and gloves becoming more difficult to come by with each passing day, the risks for providers are also intensifying. Colibri offers this resource center to assist providers in staying informed during the pandemic. 

CDC’s Coronavirus update: Strategies For Optimizing Protective Equipment

As inadequate stockpiles of protective healthcare equipment become less of a threat and more of a reality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued steps that providers and facilities should implement based on varying degrees of severity. For eyewear, the CDC’s “Contingency Capacity Strategies” include selectively canceling elective and non-urgent procedures and appointments for which eye protection is typically used by providers. Additionally, use of eye-protection supplies should shift from disposable to reusable items, such as goggles and face shields. Preferential use of powered air purifying respirators or full-face elastomeric respirators that have built-in eye protection is also advised, as is ensuring that appropriate cleaning and disinfection between users occurs when goggles or other reusable items are used. Extended use of disposable and reusable eye protection is also encouraged and described by the CDC as wearing the same protection for repeated close contact encounters with several different patients, without removing the protection between encounters. 

“Crisis Capacity Strategies” include the canceling of all elective and non-urgent procedures, use of eye protection devices beyond the manufacturers’ stated shelf life (if a visual inspection doesn’t raise concerns, such as degraded materials), and prioritizing eye protection for activities where splashes and sprays are anticipated and/or during activities where prolonged face-to-face or close contact with a potentially infectious patient is unavoidable. Additionally, providers at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid contact with known or suspected COVID-19 patients when possible.

“Contingency and Crisis Capacity Strategies” for facemasks are similar to those of eyewear and include removing facemasks for visitors in public areas and housing facemasks in secure, monitored sites. Patients with symptoms of respiratory infection can use tissues or other barriers to cover their mouth and nose.

CDC officials have also initiated strategies for the management of isolation gowns and N95 respirators. 

Unique Symptoms Should Raise Concerns Around Coronavirus: Update 

For weeks, the three main symptoms of COVID-19 have been reinforced for healthcare providers to be mindful of: cough, aggressively high fever, and shortness of breath. However, as the virus infects more people (and perhaps changes), a newer, more discreet symptom has emerged, particularly among patients who are otherwise asymptomatic. Anosmia, a condition that causes the loss of sense of smell that has long been known to be triggered by smoking, medication side effects, nasal obstruction, and/or the natural production of mucus, has been identified by ear, nose, and throat physicians as a potential virus indicator.

Lingering Pandemic Could Collide With Natural Disasters

Despite the state of the COVID-19 pandemic still in the alarmingly incline state, healthcare officials are already worrying that the eventual assumed downward trajectory of the virus’ spread could prove to happen too late and be reinvigorated by climate-related storms and other conditions that cause gatherings and travel counterproductive to social distancing. 

In particular, disaster-response shelters will be concerns as potential hot spots for transmission. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting widespread flooding between now and the end of May, with major or moderate floods in 23 states. According to a recent report by the New York Times, emergency managers are rethinking traditional procedures for operating shelters utilized for such incidents as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires — procedures that require many people to be in close proximity to each other. Social distancing strategies are already being conceived by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for these environments, such as limiting the number of disaster victims who could be in field offices and allowing states to seek reimbursement for sheltering victims individually in hotels, when these facilities are a safe and logistical alternative.

Temporary shelters opened by charitable organizations will present specifically challenging scenarios with “hurricane season” less than 3 months away.

According to the report, the American Red Cross has set new guidelines that try to curb the risk of transmission by screening evacuees and isolating those who show symptoms, as well as spacing cots six feet apart and emphasizing good hygiene. Moving more people into hotels or motels may be an option but not a guarantee.

COVID-19 aside, these settings already pose general infection control issues similar to those of dormitories, barracks, prisons and cruise ships because respiratory diseases are known to rapidly spread, according to the report.

New guidelines by the Red Cross also call for taking the temperature of everyone coming into shelters, whether evacuees or volunteers, as well as checking for other symptoms of COVID-19. Checks are expected to occur three times per day, and hand-washing stations will be implemented. Shelters in Hawaii and Salt Lake City, UT, are reportedly already operating under the new guidelines.

Mental Health Services Available To Providers

Extended exposure to COVID-19 patients brings with it heightened risk for mental health conditions just as it does the odds of developing the virus. In response to these hardships, allied professionals in the mental health field are helping their peers try to manage the associated stress and anxiety of the pandemic. Among the programs that are developing is a tele-therapy service in the Philadelphia region specifically for those in the healthcare industry dealing with the outbreak. The Anxiety and Agoraphobia Treatment Center in Bala Cynwyd, PA, is now available during times when clinicians are feeling anxious or fearful, as well as for other conditions. Services are said to be scheduled quickly for online sessions. Isolation and economic downturns are also factors that are said to be exacerbating the situation for the general public and healthcare providers alike. A suicide prevention hotline is also available at 800-273-TALK.

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Got Questions About COVID-19?

As the cases of coronavirus escalate, so too does the insight into the condition. That said, each passing day also brings with it new questions. What are your coronavirus-related questions? Send your questions via email to [email protected]
We’ll get answers and post them in upcoming newsletters. 

Stay informed in the future by checking out the next coronavirus update with Elite!

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