Developments in the fight against COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that emerged from China and is now present across the globe, are occurring on a daily, oftentimes, hourly basis.
To consolidate information for the public and its members, last week MHA created a COVID-19 webpage
, and delivered the first COVID-19 Update newsletter to its membership.
Last Thursday, CMS issued two calls to action to 1) ensure that all healthcare providers are implementing their infection control procedures, and 2) ordering all State Survey Agencies and accrediting organizations to focus their facility inspections exclusively on issues related to infection control and other serious health and safety threats, beginning with nursing homes and hospitals.
Last Wednesday, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health held a hearing on the state’s response to COVID-19. Among those who testified were Paul Biddinger, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital; Michael Mina, M.D., from Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and Davidson Hamer, M.D., from Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine. Administration officials and representatives of local public health agencies also testified.
Legislators learned that hospital emergency preparedness teams have been prepping for such events, especially since the Ebola scare of 2014. Local public health experts called for an enhanced communication campaign in multiple languages to educate the public on the issue, while medical experts and epidemiologists iterated that the hope for a quick vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is misplaced; 12 to 18 months is the most optimistic timeline for a vaccine, but 18 to 24 months is more realistic. (It’s also possible that a vaccine will simply not work.)
Another item discussed at the Wednesday hearing is the possibility that accustomed “social norms” may be eliminated because of the virus. A quick hug between friends or a friendly handshake between those meeting for the first time may be replaced by a nod, a bow, or an elbow bump going forward.
The best place to keep abreast of rapidly developing news is through the DPH
websites. Both are updating their sites several times a day. MHA’s site is also refreshed regularly.