Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of Jan. 18

MHA Covid-19 update

Among the many actions President Joseph R. Biden took on his first day in office Jan. 20 was creating a White House COVID-19 response team to coordinate federal and state efforts to fight the pandemic. With this and other expected action by the new administration, the state of Michigan anticipates improvements in the production, distribution and operations for the COVID-19 vaccine. As the battle against the evolving virus continues, the MHA keeps members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

Updates Provided as Vaccines Administration Continues

President Biden has indicated he will immediately be activating the federal Defense Production Act to significantly increase the supply of vaccine available to Americans. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration is working closely with the Biden team to increase Michigan’s weekly allocation of vaccine as soon as possible. The state is mapping details on how to support each of Biden’s points and how this plan can support Michigan’s plan to administer 50,000 or more shots per day.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Jan. 20 that modified vaccine supply kits would begin being included that week with the shipments of the Pfizer vaccine to assist in administering the potential sixth dose of vaccine from vials originally labeled for five doses. In January, the Food and Drug Administration amended the emergency use authorization to reflect the additional dose, and McKesson increased the individual Pfizer ancillary kit contents from a kit that supported 975 doses to a kit supporting 1,170 doses. Members with vaccination supply chain questions can contact Adam Carlson or Rob Wood at the MHA.

The MDHHS is working toward using the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index to identify areas and individuals in Michigan that may have less access to COVID-19 vaccine. The department will be encouraging vaccinating providers to use this data to find and vaccinate these individuals and communities. This work is in the early stages, and updates will be provided during the biweekly MDHHS calls with providers. The MHA will provide details on how to reach vulnerable individuals and communities as they become available.

The MHA will conduct a members-only event from 11 a.m. to noon Jan. 29 for an in-depth discussion on the status of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, coordination, coverage, communication and more. Members will receive participation information prior to the event.

In addition, the association (@MIHospitalAssoc) will host a Twitter chat from 1 to 2 p.m. Jan. 28 to inform Michiganders about the COVID-19 vaccine and promote to the public and media the excellent work of hospitals and health systems in leading this effort. The goal of the virtual conversation is to answer frequently asked questions and give hospitals an opportunity to share their experiences and resources related to the COVID-19 vaccine all in one place. Members may preview the chat questions, and those with Twitter accounts are encouraged to join the event to share about hospitals’ role in Michigan’s COVID-19 vaccine effort and be a source of trusted information about the vaccine itself. Members are asked to confirm their participation with Lucy Ciaramitaro at the MHA by Jan. 26.

Local health departments use an online registry to recruit volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Vaccine volunteers do not necessarily need to be licensed health professionals, but do need to complete all training to ensure they can appropriately educate, administer, prepare, handle and report vaccine. Anyone interested in volunteering to assist in vaccine administration is encouraged to register. Training materials are available on both the MDHHS and CDC websites.

Members with vaccine questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

MDHHS Issues Updated List of COVID-19 Relief Facilities

The MDHHS issued an updated list of COVID Relief Facilities (CRFs), such as nursing homes and rehab facilities, approved to admit and accept transfers of individuals who remain subject to Transmission Based Precautions for COVID-19. The MDHHS will issue its next updated list the week of Feb. 1.

The CRF designation is defined as part of Public Act 231 of 2020. These facilities may care for COVID-19-positive residents of nursing facilities by retaining or admitting those residents. An appropriate CRF resident is a COVID-19-positive person who does not need the acute-care hospital level of services.

CRFs are designed to care for COVID-19-positive residents in-place with enhanced infection control measures for individuals who have not met criteria for discontinuing Transmission-Based Precautions and have limited access to the state’s Care and Recovery Centers. All CRFs may retain or readmit their own residents. Facilities that meet enhanced requirements may receive new admissions from other facilities or hospital discharges. Many other CRFs can retain their own residents even if they become COVID-19-positive. To request a copy of the list of CRFs accepting new admissions, contact Erin Emerson at the MDHHS. For more information on these facilities, contact Kelsey Ostergren at the MHA.

Additional information on the COVID-19 pandemic is available to members on the MHA Community Site and the MHA COVID-19 webpage. Questions on COVID-19 and infectious disease response strategies may be directed to the MDHHS Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).