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NIH Launches Pilot COVID-19 Telehealth Program
The National Institutes of Health (NIH), in collaboration with the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has launched a virtual community health intervention program that will provide free COVID-19 health services including at-home rapid tests, telehealth sessions, and at-home treatments in selected communities across the U.S. The Home Test to Treat program will also provide antiviral treatment for people who test positive for COVID-19, to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, or death.
NIH reports that the program, targeted for at-risk populations, will enroll roughly 100,000 participants in the coming year through collaborations with local health departments. Communities across the country will be selected to participate based on “level of community need, access to healthcare treatment, expected COVID-19 infection rates, and socio-economic factors,” NIH reports. In January 2023, local and state officials in Berks County, PA, will be the first to pilot the program.
NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) supported the development of Home Test to Treat through the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx®) Tech program. RADx Tech is one of four programs under the NIH RADx initiative aimed at speeding innovation in the development, commercialization, and implementation of technologies for COVID-19 testing.
“At-home testing for COVID-19 is now widely available in the United States, as are antiviral treatments, and this program combines easy home access to both,” said Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D., director of the NIBIB at NIH and leader of the RADx® Tech program. “The Home Test to Treat program allows those who are sick an alternative to venturing out for testing or treatment, potentially reducing the spread of COVID-19 in the community.”
The White House announced the program in September 2022, as part of the administration’s outlined plan to advance equitable access to COVID-19 treatments.
Access the NIH news article for additional information.
NIH’s COVID-19 Study Looks at Older Adults with Chronic Conditions
Researchers are studying older adults to learn more about the pandemic’s effect on health and health care access. National Institute on Aging (NIA), a division of NIH, is funding a COVID-19 Comorbidities (C3) study to explore how adults age 55 and older with chronic conditions have managed their health care and personal health since the pandemic emerged in the U.S. in March 2020.
The study will chronicle five years of people’s health experiences, including their ability to access medications and follow treatment plans through telehealth. Work builds on a previous NIH-funded study, “Awareness, Attitudes, and Actions Related to COVID-19 Among Adults with Chronic Conditions at the Onset of the U.S. Outbreak,” with findings published in the National Library of Medicine in 2020.
Adults age 55 and older made up 94 percent of U.S. COVID-19 deaths as of 2021. Of those who died, 92 percent had one or more underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk, NIH reports. More than two-thirds of the participants in the study have three or more chronic conditions. The study is focused on the Chicago area, with half who receive care through several Northwestern medical clinics, and the remainder who are patients at two health centers that care for medically underserved communities.
Researchers will hone in on health care records, which can reveal patients’ evolving relationship with their health, e.g., which patients are making use of telehealth appointments and other online tools successfully versus others. They will also look at factors that could improve participants’ circumstances, from increasing social support to improving health literacy, which can influence both mental and physical health, NIH reports.
Read more in the NIH article.
ASHRAE Announces Commitment to Developing an IAQ Pathogen Mitigation Standard
ASHRAE recently announced its goal to support the expedited development of a national indoor air quality (IAQ) pathogen mitigation standard. The association reports that it will set up a balanced team of internationally recognized experts to work on an accelerated timeline to develop the standard within the coming months. Delivery of the standard will include design and operation; alternative paths (prescriptive or performance), in which equivalent clean air would be the goal; and testing, verification, documentation (commissioning), and periodic re-commissioning.
ASHRAE reports that an increased focus on IAQ by governments and the public, along with the convergence of the flu, respiratory syncytial (RSV), and COVID-19, heightens the need for a pathogen mitigation standard to protect the population.
“The health and well-being of building occupants are crucial factors that must be considered during the design, construction, and operation phases of the building process,” said ASHRAE president Farooq Mehboob. “ASHRAE’s long history of leadership in IAQ science and technology will provide broad-reaching guidance through this standard to help ensure the use of best practices for pathogen mitigation, which will assist in creating safer indoor spaces for us all.”
Access more via ASHRAE’s news item.
See more ANSI member efforts in the ANSI COVID-19 Resource Webpage Highlighting Standardization Community Response.