Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Weeks of June 28 and July 5

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateAccording to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund, the country’s rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and continuing vaccination efforts have saved about 279,000 lives and avoided 1.25 million hospitalizations in the United States. Approximately 67% of Americans had received at least one dose of vaccine as of July 7.

The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

Children’s Health Leaders to Discuss Vaccines for Children in July 16 Webinar

The MHA will host a 45-minute webinar and discussion on COVID-19 vaccines for children, as well as the status of other scheduled vaccines for children, from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. July 16 featuring remarks from several leaders in children’s healthcare in Michigan. The MHA has extended an invitation to this conversation to the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians and the Michigan chapter of the American Association of Pediatrics.

The agenda will include:

  • Brief overview of polling data related to individuals’ personal physicians as the trusted voice on vaccine choices.
  • COVID-19 vaccines for children, as well as comments on side effects and multi-inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
  • Status of other regularly scheduled vaccines in children, which have significantly declined during the pandemic.
  • Feedback and questions from participants.

The goal of the webinar is to increase awareness and preparedness with as many clinicians as possible before patients younger than 12 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines and before school resumes and children are behind on other vaccines.

Members who have not yet registered may contact Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA for registration instructions. Questions may be directed to Ruthanne or Laura Appel at the MHA.

Regulatory Flexibility for Sharps Containers Extended Through Oct. 31

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) recently approved an MHA request to extend regulatory flexibility for hospitals facing an ongoing sharps container shortage. State regulation currently requires hospitals to replace sharps containers every 90 days or when full, whichever is sooner. Hospitals will continue to be exempted from the 90-day rule through Oct. 31, 2021; this will allow hospitals to replace sharps containers only when they are full.

The shortage was created by a production facility fire and increased demand for the containers due to vaccinations. The regulatory relief for MHA members was set to expire July 31 but was extended by EGLE for an additional three months.

The MHA will continue to monitor the situation and work with members to determine if additional exemptions should be requested. Questions on the extended exemption can be directed to Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

State COVID-19 Data Dashboard Updates Will Occur Twice a Week

The state recently announced that its COVID-19 data dashboards will now be updated only on Tuesdays and Fridays instead of the former practice of updating them five days per week. However, providers are still required to enter their COVID-19 data into EMResource every day.

The state is reporting that, as of July 9, there are 211 confirmed adult COVID-19 hospitalizations and nine confirmed pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations. More than 62% of adults 16 and older in Michigan had received at least one dose of vaccine as of July 9.

Michigan Announces Financial, Scholarship Prizes for Vaccinated Residents

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer June 28 announced the “MI Shot to Win Sweepstakes,” which may be entered by residents who get a COVID-19 vaccine. The sweepstakes includes $5 million in cash prizes for residents 18 and older and nine $55,000 college scholarships for vaccinated residents ages 12-17.

The goal of this public private partnership — also supported by the Protect Michigan Commission, Meijer, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the Michigan Association of United Ways, among others — is to help Michigan get at least 70% of residents vaccinated as soon as possible. Other states that have implemented similar prize programs have seen significant growth in vaccination rates. As the delta variant spreads in the U.S., reaching herd immunity levels is critical to preventing further outbreaks and deaths. In recent weeks, an average of 45,000 individuals in Michigan have initiated vaccination each week. As of July 7, 62 percent of state residents 16 and older have been given at least one dose.

The cash prizes for adults will be awarded via a $1 million drawing, a $2 million drawing, and 30 days of daily $50,000 drawings to anyone who has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and registers for the contest.

The MHA will keep members apprised of the success of this incentive program. Members with questions may contact Ruthanne Sudderth 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 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Community Health Emergency Coordination Center (CHECC).

Combating the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Week of March 8

MHA Covid-19 update

MHA COVID-19 UpdateThe president signed the American Rescue Plan March 11, establishing as law the latest legislation to address the many areas of loss the country has suffered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes $8.5 billion in funding for eligible rural healthcare providers to offset expenses and lost revenues attributable to the pandemic (see related article). The MHA continues to keep members apprised of pandemic-related developments affecting hospitals through email updates and the MHA Coronavirus webpage. Important updates are outlined below.

Mass Vaccination Site to Open at Ford Field as Vaccination Eligibility Expands

In a March 11 address, President Joe Biden instructed states to open vaccine eligibility to all adults no later than May 1. The federal government expects a significant increase in vaccine doses in the coming weeks and will make a website available to help anyone find a vaccine appointment near them.

In response to the president’s directive, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that Michigan will open eligibility to adults ages 16 through 49 with certain preexisting conditions March 22 and to any adults 16 and older April 5. This is in addition to all adults ages 50 through 64 becoming eligible March 22. This news is reflected in the state’s official Prioritization Guidance document posted on its vaccine webpage. Officials expect weekly allocations to continue to increase to help meet the increased demand. The MHA will keep members apprised of any additional information relating to the expanded eligibility.

Members are encouraged to prepare for increased calls and website traffic as vaccine eligibility broadens and to provide their communities with details on who they will be able to vaccinate and how to make appointments.

The governor also announced that a mass vaccination site will open March 24 at Ford Field in Detroit. It will have the capacity to administer 6,000 vaccine doses each day to serve residents in the broader southeast Michigan region. The Biden administration, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), selected southeast Michigan for this major new community vaccination site.

The site, which was selected according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s priority tool to help those hardest hit and most vulnerable, will operate from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., seven days a week, for eight weeks under the federal government’s vaccination pilot program. The facility will be managed by the state of Michigan with support from FEMA, Wayne County, the City of Detroit, Ford Field, Meijer, Henry Ford Health System and the Detroit Lions.

Federal efforts under development also include a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “equity index” that will rank states based on equity of access/administration of the vaccine in addition to the existing rankings that are based on doses given, speed, etc.

In addition, the CDC will be sending allocations directly to a list of federally qualified health centers across the nation, including those in the Michigan cities of Inkster, Pontiac, Brimley, Gladwin, Flint, Saginaw, Cassopolis, Kalamazoo, Centreville, Ann Arbor and Detroit.

CDC Issues COVID-19 Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People

The CDC issued new recommendations March 8 for individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The agency considers people to be fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or two weeks after Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen single-dose vaccine.

The recommendations state that those meeting the full vaccination parameters may gather indoors with other fully vaccinated individuals without wearing a mask. In addition, they can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Fully vaccinated individuals who have been near someone who has the disease are no longer asked to avoid others or get tested unless they have symptoms. However, vaccinated people who live in a group setting and have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days and get tested, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Because authorities do not yet know the extent to which vaccines mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, the CDC continues to recommend precautions that include wearing a mask, staying at least six feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested and stay away from others.

The MHA will keep members apprised of any changes in these recommendations. Questions on the COVID-19 vaccine may be directed to Ruthanne Sudderth at the MHA.

COVID-19 Variants in Michigan More Transmissible than Original Virus

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Bureau of Laboratories identified on March 8 the first Michigan case of the COVID-19 variant B.1.351 in a male child living in Jackson County. Case investigation is underway to determine close contacts and whether additional cases are associated with this case.

Cases caused by this variant, which originated in South Africa, were first reported in the United States at the end of January. It is believed to be more contagious, but there has been no indication that it affects the clinical outcomes or disease severity compared to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that has been circulating across the United States for the past year. Scientists are evaluating how well COVID-19 vaccines work against this newer variant, which has been identified in at least 20 other states and jurisdictions in the U.S.

The MDHHS has also provided information about the characteristics of the B.1.1.7 variant that was first discovered in the United Kingdom. This variant has now been identified in multiple Michigan communities after having first been detected in an isolate from a Washtenaw County case Jan. 16. It is approximately 50 percent more transmissible, leading to faster spread of the virus and potentially increasing numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Members should refer to the MHA’s COVID-19 alert sent Friday, March 12, for details and recommendations on managing variants.

The MHA and the MDHHS are closely monitoring case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalizations. The association will keep members apprised of any concerning data trends related to the variants. Members with data questions may contact Jim Lee at the MHA.

New Regulatory Flexibility Approved for Sharps Containers

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy March 9 approved an MHA request to provide regulatory flexibility for hospitals facing a shortage of sharps disposal containers. State regulation currently requires hospitals to replace sharps containers every 90 days or when full, whichever is sooner. Through July 31, 2021, hospitals will now be exempt from the 90-day rule, meaning sharps containers will only be required to be replaced when full. The shortage is due to a production facility fire and increasing demand for the containers due to vaccinations; some MHA members had already received similar exemptions. The MHA will work with state government if additional flexibility is needed. Members with questions may contact Sean Sorenson-Abbott at the MHA.

State Provides Vaccine Communication and Administration Materials

A variety of vaccine materials are available for hospitals and other providers on the MDHHS Provider and Partner webpages for communication and administration purposes. These include toolkits for communicating with patients and communities regarding the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, which are in the “COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Materials” section of the Partner page; Johnson & Johnson materials, including a Standing Order form for this vaccine; and more.

MDHHS Announces 22 Awardees in State’s Vaccine Pilot Program

The MDHHS and the Protect Michigan Commission have awarded 35,800 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to 22 pilot projects to help enhance the state’s vaccine equity strategy. Three of the awards went to Henry Ford Health System, MidMichigan Health and Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital, and the remainder went to health departments, community-based clinics, agencies on aging and other vaccinators.

The pilot program is designed to help remove barriers to vaccine access for Michiganders ages 60 and older who live in communities with a high Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) and high COVID-19 mortality rates. Participating providers that have additional capacity in their projects may expand vaccination to include people ages 50-59 with disabilities or underlying conditions. The awardees were chosen from more than 70 applications. Additional details on the program are available in the MDHHS news release.

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).