CHAP’s Weekly Health Update
In this “one-stop-shop” update, CHAP will provide a roundup of important COVID-19, Flu, and other information from various federal sources.
All health care providers should be monitoring COVID-19 incidence rates in their state/county on an ongoing basis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC provides weekly data about case rates, deaths, testing, and vaccine administration on their COVID tracker webpage.
- Estimates of Weighted Proportions of Variants by State/Jurisdiction
- COVID State Trends
- County Specific Vaccination Rates
- County Community Risk Level
Seasonal Flu Data – Note the state in dark blue and red that have very high flu rates at this time. Please take proper infection control actions in these areas.
CDC and Other Federal Health Updates
The Department of Health and Human Services is planning for the federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 (PHE), declared under Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, to expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023. Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued FAQs on CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the End of the COVID-19 PHE. The FAQs will help you prepare for the expiration of the COVID-19 PHE and are relevant for all CMS programs; including, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and private insurance.
CMS resources for the expiration of the COVID-19 PHE:
- Fact Sheet: What Do I Need to Know? CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the Transition Forward from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
- FAQs on CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the End of the COVID-19 PHE
Following FDA regulatory action, CDC has taken steps to simplify COVID-19 vaccine recommendations and allow more flexibility for people at higher risk who want the option of added protection from additional COVID-19 vaccine doses. CDC’s new recommendations allow an additional updated (bivalent) vaccine dose for adults ages 65 years and older and additional doses for people who are immunocompromised. This allows more flexibility for healthcare providers to administer additional doses to immunocompromised patients as needed.
Secretary Becerra is announcing that in the coming weeks, he will issue an amendment to the declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act for medical countermeasures against COVID-19. The PREP Act declaration has been a key tool for ensuring that Americans have broad access to critical COVID-19 countermeasures including vaccines, tests, and treatments. In the month remaining before the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declared under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, HHS will continue to work closely with its partners, including Governors, state, local, Tribal, and territorial agencies, industry, and advocates to ensure an orderly transition.
COVID-19 News Headlines
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published its initial risk assessment of the Omicron XBB.1.16 subvariant, which followed a meeting last week of its technical advisory group on virus evolution. Based on the assessment, the WHO on Apr 20 said it elevated XBB.1.16 from a variant under monitoring to a variant of interest.
So far, no changes in severity have been reported. XBB.1.16 doesn’t seem to come with additional health risks compared to XBB.1.5, but it may become dominant in some countries owing to its growth advantage and immune escape properties.
Since the pandemic began more than three years ago, numerous variants have emerged as the virus that causes COVID-19 evolved. As the COVID public health emergency ends, case numbers drop and concerns subside, another new variant has caught the attention of scientists.
While it does have a higher transmissibility rate than previous strains, the variant “Arcturus,” also known as omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, stands out for bringing along a new COVID symptom – conjunctivitis, known as red or pink eye, which is often combined with itchiness.
Newly-released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the virus’ spread has grown nationwide since it first surfaced. As of Friday, XBB.1.16 accounted for 7.2% of all U.S. COVID cases beginning the week of April 9, marking an increase from 3.9% a week prior. Overall, a different variant, XBB 1.5, called Kraken, remains the most common