(Updated March 1, 2020)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is aggressively responding to the global outbreak of the novel corona virus, also known as COVID-19, which has been detected in 60 locations internationally, including the United States.
NACHC hosting a webinar, “Prepare Not Panic: COVID-19 CDC Update and the Health Center Response” in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Coronavirus Response Task Force. The webinar will provide information on how health centers can continue to prepare an organized response to COVID-19, share clinical protocols nationwide, and build systems in partnership with federal, state authorities, local public health departments, and community stakeholders to boost the health center response strategy .
“Our focus is to regularly communicate with the health center field and keep them up to date on CDC recommendations, ” said Ronald Yee, MD, Chief Medical Officer of NACHC. “It is important that we educate and not alarm and above all else ensure that health centers have the tools they need to implement clinical protocols in response to COVID-19 if necessary, working in partnership with local public health departments, organizations and community stakeholders.” Dr. Yee also recently gave an interview to Direct Relief about the health center response you can read here.
Among the challenges for health centers is an increase of fears about the disease and walk-in visits. There have also been reported shortages of masks and protective gear. Health center staff are carrying out screening measures – both in exam rooms and over the phone – to assess a patient’s potential risk. Patients who come in with respiratory infections and a history of recent travel to China require consultation with public health officials – and in some cases, immediate transportation to a hospital.
A previous NACHC Blog Post identified actions that can be taken to help respond to this global health threat. However, it’s also important to note that influenza remains an even higher risk for communities. The CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 26 million flu illnesses, 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths from flu. Health officials recommend a vaccination for the best protection against the flu.