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A medical practioner gives a patient a COVID vaccination.

ANSI COVID-19 News: CDC Bridge Access Program to Connect Underinsured and Uninsured with Vaccinations; Respirator Fit Evaluation Challenge Winners; and Uptick in COVID Cases

7/31/2023

The ANSI Federation and standardization community are stepping up with guidance, resources, and initiatives to support public health and safety and the nation's recovery. Suggestions for news items may be submitted to [email protected]. All submissions are published at ANSI's discretion.

CDC’s Bridge Access Program to Connect Uninsured and Underinsured Adults with COVID-19 Vaccines

To guarantee that underinsured and uninsured American adults have access to vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that it will debut its Bridge Access Program for COVID-19 vaccines, set to launch this fall.

The program will run under the management and oversight of a team within the CDC Immunization Services Division for a limited time through December 2024. The CDC reports that it will purchase COVID-19 vaccines and allocate them, along with the funding needed to implement the program, through the health agency’s established network of state and local immunization programs.

Local providers will work with state and local health departments to distribute vaccines though providers in networks. The CDC has also published additional information on local health centers and pharmacies to provide free vaccinations.

“Protecting people from COVID-19 remains a top priority for CDC,” CDC director Dr. Mandy Cohen said. “CDC is partnering with state and local public health agencies, health centers, and pharmacies to ensure that all adults nationwide maintain access to lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines. Ultimately, we know that vaccines save money and lives. Vaccination is especially important as we head into fall and winter, a time when COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases are likely to circulate.”

Access more information on the program via CDC’s news announcement.

NIOSH Announces 20 Winners of Respirator Fit Evaluation Challenge Phase l

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has announced winners of the first phase of its Respirator Fit Challenge. The Challenge, launched in January 2023, is implemented by Capital Consulting Corporation with Ensemble Consultancy under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on behalf of NIOSH. The contest calls for submissions of practical solutions that deliver real-time information on filtering facepiece respirator fit.

Phase I winners, who received $5,000 each, submitted 10-page concept papers outlining ideas to improve respirator fit testing, reflecting a diverse range of solution concepts including technologies such as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), infrared imagery and thermal monitoring, fabric-based sensor networks, light sensing (LED), and an app that will combine AI with facial recognition. The technologies were incorporated into “approaches that would deliver immediate evaluation and feedback to end users about the fit of filtering facepiece respirators during use,” NIOSH reported.

The second phase will require the winners to design prototypes based on their initial submissions. Up to 10 teams will be chosen to receive a portion of the $100,000 Phase 2 prize to help them build pre-production prototypes for NIOSH evaluation during Phase 3.

“Respirators are crucial to protect workers and the public from various respiratory hazards, including airborne infectious agents and wildfire smoke,” said Maryann D’Alessandro, Ph.D., director of NIOSH’s National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory. “Many small or disadvantaged workplaces, however, lack the resources for fit testing, and workers at these underserved workplaces and the general public often wear respirators without knowing if they fit properly and provide the expected level of protection. The Challenge aims to address these issues by identifying practical solutions that deliver real-time information on respirator fit.”

Weekly COVID Hospitalizations Rise, New CDC Data Show

New data from the CDC reveal a slight uptick in weekly COVID hospitalizationsup 10.3 percent across the countrymarking the biggest surge since December.

The most recent weekly numbers reveal that there were 7,109 hospitalizations during the week of July 15 in the U.S., up from 6,444 during the previous week. The surge follows months of declines, but data reveal lower rates of hospitalizations recorded last year at the same time.

"U.S. COVID-19 rates are still near historic lows after 7 months of steady declines. Early indicators of COVID-19 activity (emergency department visits, test positivity, and wastewater levels) preceded an increase in hospitalizations seen this past week," CDC spokesperson Kathleen Conley said in a statement published by CBS News. "The U.S. has experienced increases in COVID-19 during the past three summers, so it's not surprising to see an uptick," said Conley.

The uptick comes amid recent findings of higher concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in wastewater in NY, monitored and reported by the New York State Wastewater Surveillance Network.

Access the latest data via the CDC.

See more ANSI member efforts in the ANSI COVID-19 Resource Webpage Highlighting the Standardization Community’s Response

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