The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, February 25.
The White House
- President Biden has extended the declaration of a national health emergency because of COVID-19.
- The White House announced a new effort to make masks more available in communities hard hit by the pandemic. The administration will deliver more than 25 million masks to more than 1300 community health centers and 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens.
- The White House COVID-19 response team and public health officials held a press briefing on Monday, February 22. See a transcript of that briefing here. It also held a briefing on Wednesday, February 24. Find that briefing transcript here.
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS’s Office of Civil Rights will not impose penalties for non-compliance with HIPAA rules involving covered health care providers or their business associates in connection with the good faith use of online or web-based applications for the scheduling of individual appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations during the COVID-19 emergency. See HHS’s formal announcement of this policy.
- HHS’s Office of Civil Rights has settled three discrimination complaints against a health system that denied disabled patients access to support persons because of COVID-19 hospital visitation restrictions. The patients were not COVID-19 patients. See HHS’s statement on the settlement.
- HHS has updated its document on planning considerations for monoclonal antibody administration.
HHS and CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls
HHS Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice
HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response sponsors COVID-19 Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice that are interactive virtual learning sessions that seek to create a peer-to-peer learning network in which clinicians from the U.S. and abroad who have experience treating patients with COVID-19 share their challenges and successes. These webinar topics are covered every week:
- EMS: Patient Care and Operations (Mondays, 12:00-1:00 PM eastern)
- Critical Care: Lifesaving Treatment and Clinical Operations (Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM eastern)
- Emergency Department: Patient Care and Clinical Operations (Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 PM eastern)
CMS Stakeholder Calls
CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information about the agency’s response to COVID-19. These sessions are open to members of the health care community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer participants an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.
CMS COVID-19 Office Hours Calls
Tuesday, March 16 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM (eastern)
Toll Free Attendee Dial In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 4177586
Audio Webcast link: go here
Tuesday, April 6 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM (eastern)
Toll Free Attendee Dial In: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 2769397
Audio Webcast link: go here
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has updated its FAQs about COVID-19 vaccinations.
- The CDC has updated its resources for helping community groups educate their constituents on the importance of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.
- The CDC has posted resources to help providers build confidence in COVID-19 vaccines among their patients.
- The CDC has updated its information about adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.
- The CDC has updated its COVID-19 FAQs for laboratories.
- The CDC has updated its bibliography of articles about COVID-19 for laboratories.
- The CDC has updated its guidelines for collecting, handling, and testing clinical specimens from persons with COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its infection prevention and control recommendations for health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic.
- The CDC has updated its information about how health care organizations can prepare their facilities and staff for COVID-19.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA has issued guidance providing policy and recommendations for evaluating the potential impact of emerging and future viral mutations of COVID-19 on COVID-19 tests for the duration of the current public health emergency.
- The FDA’s vaccines and related biological products advisory committee will meet formally on Friday, February 26 on the application from Janssen Biotech Inc. for emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine (often referred to as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine). Go here for meeting information, including access to viewing the meeting online.
National Institutes of Health
People who have had evidence of a prior infection with COVID-19 appear to be well protected against being reinfected with the virus, at least for a few months, according to a newly published study from the National Cancer Institute. This finding may explain why reinfection appears to be relatively rare and could have important public health implications, including decisions about returning to physical workplaces, school attendance, the prioritization of vaccine distribution, and other activities.
National Governors Association
The National Governors Association has written to President Biden to ask him to make the vaccine distribution process more transparent to the public and to coordinate federal decisions about using pharmacies and FQHCs to administer COVID-19 vaccines with state governments. See the NGA letter here.