5/05/23 – CHAP Weekly Health Update

5/05/23 – CHAP Weekly Health Update

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.

Reminder – the federal COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) is scheduled for May 11, 2023.  CHAP will suspend posting regular updates at that time but will post ad hoc updates thereafter.

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.

COVID-19 Snapshot:

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 is winding down weekly data about case rates, deaths, testing and vaccine administration on their COVID tracker webpage but will be suspending regular data updates as the end of the PHE nears on May 11, 2023.


COVID-19 Variants by Region & Map Key

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

CMS posted Memo QSO-23-13-ALL, Guidance for the Expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 1, 2023.  

The summary of the memo includes:

Social Security Act Section 1135 emergency waivers for health care providers will terminate with the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023. • Certain regulations or other policies included in Interim Final Rules with Comments (IFCs) will be modified with the ending of the PHE. Certain policies, such as the Acute Hospital at Home initiative and telehealth flexibilities have been extended by Congress through December 31, 2024.

Staff Vaccination Requirements

CMS will soon end the requirement that covered providers and suppliers establish policies and procedures for staff vaccination. CMS will share more details regarding ending this requirement at the anticipated end of the public health emergency.

Emergency Preparedness

Providers/suppliers are expected to return to normal operating status and comply with the regulatory requirements for emergency preparedness with the conclusion of the PHE. This includes conducting testing exercises based on the regulatory requirements for specific provider/supplier types.

There is also specific guidance for home health and hospice providers about ending specific waivers.

COVID-19 News Headlines

WHO declares end to COVID global health emergency (5/5/23)

The World Health Organization ended the Covid-19 global health emergency on Friday, saying it was time for countries to transition from treating COVID as an emergency to dealing with it as a disease that is here to stay.

COVID’s future: mini waves rather than seasonal surges (5/1/23)

Whether you call it a surge, a spike, a wave or perhaps just a wavelet, there are signs of a rise in SARS-CoV-2 infections — again. A growing proportion of tests in some countries are coming back positive, and new variants, most notably a lineage called XBB.1.16, are pushing aside older strains, fuelling some of the uptick in cases.

Welcome to the new normal: the ‘wavelet’ era. Scientists say that explosive, hospital-filling COVID-19 waves are unlikely to return. Instead, countries are starting to see frequent, less deadly waves, characterized by relatively high levels of mostly mild infections and sparked by the relentless churn of new variants.

CDC to stop tracking COVID levels in communities (4/28/23)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning to stop tracking the spread of Covid in communities across the U.S.  Moving forward, the CDC is expected to rely more heavily on Covid-related hospitalizations much like it does to track the spread of the flu.

The agency has been using a color-coded system since February 2022 to indicate high, medium or low transmission of Covid, county by county.  But as reported cases have steadily fallen and availability of rapid, at-home tests has risen, it has become difficult to get an accurate view of how much virus is circulating.

The CDC is expected to announce the new tracking system within the coming weeks. 

XBB.1.16, XBB.1.9.1 gain more ground in the United States (4/28/23)

Proportions of two new Omicron subvariants, XBB.1.16 and XBB.1.9.1, continued to rise this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today in its latest estimates. XBB.1.16, which is thought to have a growth advantage and immune escape properties, now makes up 11.7% of viruses, up from 7.4% the week before. Levels are greatest in the South Central, Middle Atlantic, and Northwestern parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the XBB.1.9.1 proportion increased from 7.4% to 9% over the past week, with levels highest in the region that includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, where it makes up an estimated 23.9% of samples.

So far, the United States isn’t experiencing any rises in COVID-19 markers, all of which continue to decline slowly, according to CDC data. The CDC recorded 88,330 cases and 1,052 deaths for the week ending April 26. The 7-day average for new COVID hospitalizations is 1,510, down 16.4% compared to the previous 7-day average.