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COVID-19: Surveys Resume, Remdesivir Donation, Antibody Testing

The Joint Commission in June will resume regular surveys and reviews of health care facilities after limiting them in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To ensure physical distancing, the commission will:

  • limit the number of people in group sessions and on tracer activities;
  • require organizations to provide personal protective equipment to surveyors and reviewers onsite;
  • conduct activities virtually if possible; and
  • ensure surveyors drive separately to site visits.

The Joint Commission will not retroactively review compliance, instead focusing on how organizations adapted to the pandemic.

Additional Remdesivir Donated

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) again asks hospitals to provide COVID-19 case data through the TeleTracking database to assist in the allocation of an additional donation of the investigational drug remdesivir.

Gilead Sciences Inc. will donate 333,160 vials of the drug to treat severe COVID-19 cases. The donation is expected to be delivered the weeks of June 15 and June 29. Hospitals should input current COVID-19 patient data no later than 8 pm ET on June 8.

Federal Recovery Resources

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing noncontact infrared thermometers (NCITs) to essential workplaces to screen for COVID-19. The NCITs are allocated based on estimated number of private businesses with more than 50 employees in each state and territory. The agency encourages prioritizing workplaces with essential critical infrastructure workers and high person-to-person interaction, and following Food and Drug Administration (FDA) use recommendations. A second round of NCITs will be available later in June.

Additionally, the HHS Office of the Inspector General created a strategic plan for COVID-19 response and recovery.

Workforce and Capacity

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a fact sheet for hospitals, state and local governments, and other entities that temporarily converted or built new facilities for health care use — known as alternative care sites (ACSs). The easiest way to receive payments through CMS programs is to treat ACSs as temporary extensions of existing facilities.

The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Hospital Preparedness Program has established a cooperative agreement through which recipients may receive funding to set up and operate ACSs. ACS funding also is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Crisis Response Cooperative Agreement to support:

  • surveillance;
  • epidemiology;
  • lab capacity;
  • infection control;
  • mitigation;
  • communications; and
  • preparedness and response.

As health care facilities face increased provider demand, ASPR also shares strategies to mitigate staffing shortages and a checklist for onboarding new providers.

Interim Antibody Testing Guidelines

CDC released interim guidelines for COVID-19 antibody testing through serologic assays, which now have FDA emergency use authorization. Assays may test for IgG antibodies, IgM and IgG antibodies, or total antibodies; there is no identified advantage for each of these tests. CDC encourages providers to use an assay with high specificity and test people with an elevated likelihood of previous exposure to the virus. Alternately, providers can use an orthogonal testing algorithm when the expected positive predictive value of a single test is low.

While evidence suggests antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 indicate decreased infectiousness and immunity to future infection, additional data are needed before serologic test results should be used to shape public health recommendations.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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