COVID-19 Update | February 5, 2021
Important Highlights
White House COVID-19 Response Team Press Briefings 
The White House COVID-19 Response Team and federal public health officials continue to hold press briefings to discuss the status of the federal government’s COVID-19 pandemic response on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11 am. All briefings will be streamed live here.  
Biden Administration Announces Increased Vaccine Supply, Launch of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, and Expansion of FEMA Reimbursement to States 
Building on the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Strategy, President Biden announced the following actions aimed at increasing COVID-19 vaccinations and federal support to states: 
  • Increase the overall, weekly vaccine supply to states, Tribes, and territories to 10.5 million doses (22 percent increase since Jan. 20) and maintain this minimum weekly supply of 10.5 million does for the next three weeks; 
  • Launch the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, a public-private partnership that will provide individuals eligible for vaccines additional locations to get vaccinated, beginning February 11 (see press release for list of 21 participating federal pharmacy partners); and  
  • Increase reimbursements to states for the cost of National Guard Personnel and emergency costs by retroactively reimbursing states fully for FEMA-eligible services backdated to January 2020 (estimated to total $3-5 billion). 
HHS: Extension of Designation of Scarce Materials or Threatened Materials Subject to COVID-19 Hoarding Prevention Measures; Extension of Effective Date With Modifications 
HHS announced it is extending its designation preventing the hoarding of certain materials needed for the ongoing COVID-19 response. HHS issued its original notice on March 23, 2020 (details below my signature), and the notice is now extended until June 30, 2021. HHS is also adding new materials to its list of those considered scarce or threatened. These new materials are syringes and hypodermic needles generally used in the U.S. for vaccinations that meet certain criteria on p. 4-5 of the public inspection copy of the notice. 
SHEA Coronavirus News
SHEA Converse & Convene: Safely Reopening Schools During the Pandemic (Open to SHEA Members) 
This members-only networking event will focus on questions related to safely reopening schools during the pandemic. Please note this event is not recorded and is intended for members to have an open, candid discussion. 
Moderator: Westyn Branch-Elliman, MD, MMSc, Harvard Medical School
Technical Guidance, Standards and Resources
Demographic Characteristics of Persons Vaccinated During the First Month of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program — United States, December 14, 2020–January 14, 2021 (CDC MMWR)  
Early COVID-19 First-Dose Vaccination Coverage Among Residents and Staff Members of Skilled Nursing Facilities Participating in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program — United States, December 2020–January 2021 (CDC MMWR)  
Trends in Outbreak-Associated Cases of COVID-19 — Wisconsin, March–November 2020 (CDC MMWR)  
Response to a COVID-19 Outbreak on a University Campus — Indiana, August 2020 (CDC MMWR)  
Impact of COVID-19 on Cervical Cancer Screening Rates Among Women Aged 21–65 Years in a Large Integrated Health Care System — Southern California, January 1–September 30, 2019, and January 1–September 30, 2020 (CDC MMWR)  
Infection Prevention and Control 
Special Settings and Populations 
Testing and Cases 
Occupational Health 
PPE and Supply Chain 
Quality Reporting 
Communication Resources 
Payment and Reimbursement Policy 
Information for Patients, Visitors, and the General Public
Event Announcements
COVID-19 Partner Update: COVID-19 Information for Essential Workplaces (CDC) 
Feb. 8, 3pm—4pm ET 
Updates on CDC’s COVID-19 response, including the latest scientific information and what everyone should know about protecting themselves and others; update on vaccines and information essential workers should know; overview of guidance and resources on COVID-19 for workers. 
Speakers: Dr. Cliff McDonald, Dr. Margaret Kitt, CAPT Sara Luckhaupt, MD, MPH, Tiffany Fell. 
Trade Press, Journal Articles, and White Papers
The importance of seasonal influenza vaccination for people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic 
Peacock G, Ryerson AB, Koppaka R, Tschida J. Disabil Health J. 2020 Dec 24:101058. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2020.101058. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33384278.
Federal Policy Updates
Analysis: Latest PREP Act Amendment Authorizes Vaccinations from Providers with Expired Licenses & Across State Lines 
HHS issued an amendment to its March 2020 Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act to expand the workforce of health care providers who can administer COVID-19 vaccines. 

This most recent amendment to the PREP Act authorizes two new categories of individuals qualified under the PREP Act to administer COVID-19 vaccines. These two categories follow: 
  • Licensed health care providers are authorizes to prescribe, dispense, and/or administer the COVID-19 vaccine across any State or jurisdiction where the PREP Act applies; and 
  • Physicians, registered nurses, and practice nurses whose licenses have expired within the last five years are also authorized to prescribe, dispense, and/or administer COVID-19 vaccines across State lines. HHS states such practitioners with expired licenses may do so only if the license was in good standing prior to the date it went inactive
HHS clarifies in its announcement that the aforementioned sets of providers now count as “Qualified Persons” under the PREP Act and are afforded the liability protections in accordance with the legislation (at 42 U.S.C. 247d–6d(i)). The Department adds that any State law which would otherwise bar out-of-state providers from furnishing COVID-19 vaccines is “preempted” by this latest amendment.  
COVID-19: Urgent Federal Actions to Accelerate America’s Response (Bipartisan Policy Center) 
The BPC developed a revised set of recommendations to improve the resilience of America’s health care and public health systems and address the threat of the coronavirus and the nation’s response to it.
The recommendations focus on six key issues: 
  • Testing and contact tracing 
  • Vaccine transparency, equitable distribution, and uptake 
  • Surge capacity 
  • Supply chain management 
  • Racial disparities 
  • State, local, and provider funding 
SHEA Education and Events
New this week:
The next COVID-19 Town Hall will be held on February 14, 2021 from 3-4 pm ET
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