During its May 2023 meeting, the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic advised its members that it was time to transition to policies for living with COVID as an endemic disease. By early 2023, many countries had already done so. Governments worldwide are now treating COVID-19 with long-term health management strategies instead of emergency measures.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared anend to the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19 on May 11, 2023. While the virus has not disappeared with the end of the PHE, the U.S. has made good progress in preventing serious illness or death in patients with COVID-19. In contrast to the start of the PHE, the population now has some immunity because of vaccines and COVID infections. And those who do become infected with the virus have effective treatments available to them.
What changed after the COVID Public Health Emergency ended?
Over the course of the PHE, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gathered COVID-19 community transmission data and recommended infection control measures for healthcare facilities accordingly. When the PHE ended in May 2023, the CDC stopped receiving the national, county-level COVID infection data it used to calculate and publish community transmission levels for COVID-19.
Without this data about community transmission levels to support its recommendations, the CDC shifted the discretion for implementing broader use of source controls (face masks) and screening testing to the healthcare facilities, particularly nursing homes. The CDC now recommends that healthcare facilities monitor appropriate local data sources about COVID and other respiratory virus activity in the surrounding community through databases such as the CDC’s COVID hospital admission levels data, the Influenza-Like Illness Surveillance Network, and the national data trends of other respiratory viruses.
Local transmission data can help nursing homes and healthcare facilities develop policies about when to implement broader source control measures, based on their particular circumstances. The CDC recommends that, at the very least, healthcare facilities implement broader infection control measures when local community transmission reaches the level where community masking is recommended.
Lessons from the pandemic are now incorporated in the Core Infection Prevention Principles
The standard precautions for infection prevention – with risk assessments and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – remain unchanged for all healthcare settings. The improvements in infection control developed during the pandemic are being incorporated in the CDC’s Core Infection Prevention and Control Practices. For example, patients with respiratory infections and their accompanying family members with potential exposure are now asked to wear masks while visiting health facilities.
Here is another example of an updated recommendation based on lessons learned during the COVID pandemic. As we saw during the respiratory virus season of 2022-23, COVID-19 can coexist with influenza and respiratory syncytial virus infection (RSV) outbreaks to cause a ‘tripledemic’. The CDC asked healthcare facilities to consider reinstating broader masking requirements during the normal respiratory virus season of October thru April.
Ventyv® products are essential for your infection prevention program
In the CDC guidelines for infection control and prevention, disposable medical gloves are among the Fundamental Elements Needed to Prevent Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings. Establishing a relationship with a trusted supplier ensures that appropriate, quality medical gloves are always available at your facility to keep your staff and patients safe.
Sri Trang USA, a leading global manufacturer of disposable medical gloves, has the quality products your organization needs. We can support your facility’s infection prevention program with a wide variety of Ventyv® brand products, from nitrile and latex exam gloves to surgical gloves to chemo-rated gloves.
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