IHA Daily Briefing: Feb. 11

Thursday, February 11, 2021
National Coalition Urges COVID Survivors to Donate Plasma
More COVID-19 Vaccination Sites, Outreach Teams Added
Chicago, Cook County Not Expanding Phase 1B Eligibility
State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
CDC: Double Masking, Tight-Fitting Masks Effective
HR Webinar Addresses Social Media Search: Feb. 17

National Coalition Urges COVID Survivors to Donate Plasma
Survivors of COVID-19 can save lives by donating their antibody-rich plasma, says the national coalition “The Fight Is In Us.” Coalition members include The Mayo Clinic, Washington State University and the American Red Cross.

Research shows that direct infusions of plasma enhance survival when used in the first three days of symptom onset—and hospitals need a ready supply of plasma.

See the coalition’s website for information on how to donate in the Chicago area. Hospitals can use the coalition’s flyer and presentation for community outreach efforts and planning.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revised and reissued its emergency use authorization for COVID-19 convalescent plasma. The revision limits the authorization to the use of high titer COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 early in the disease course and to those hospitalized patients who have impaired humoral immunity and cannot produce an adequate antibody response. Data indicates that plasma with low levels of antibodies may not be effective in treating COVID-19. The revision was based upon data from new clinical trials analyzed or reported since the original EUA was issued in August 2020.

More COVID-19 Vaccination Sites, Outreach Teams Added
The state announced today that more than 340 new retail pharmacy locations have been added to the list of COVID-19 vaccination sites open to the public. There are now more than 850 vaccination locations in Illinois open to the public. The new sites include 339 Walgreens stores, which will be receiving vaccine from a federal allocation (not from the state's allotment). Four CVS locations are also being added.

The Pritzker administration also announced today the state is deploying three Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) teams throughout the state to serve as community outreach specialists at county-run COVID-19 vaccination sites. These teams are federal resources requested by the state.

“My administration's vaccine plan prioritizes equity and accessibility for all Illinois residents and federal resources like the Disaster Survivor Assistance teams will help support community outreach efforts with a keen focus on underserved populations,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Local health departments are on the front lines of this initiative and it is critical that we provide them any and all support they need.”

The first DSA team will be deployed to St. Clair County this week. These teams will be used to support the county’s call center operations to help individuals make vaccination appointments. The team will also work with various organizations throughout the community to contact seniors and other eligible populations about the availability of the vaccine. In the coming days, the two remaining teams will be assigned to assist the Cook County Department of Public Health. These teams will be used as community ambassadors stationed at health centers to assist patients with scheduling first and second appointments.

Chicago, Cook County Not Expanding Phase 1B Eligibility
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle this morning issued a joint statement, saying that the city and county will not expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines as the state plans to do as part of Phase 1B, starting Feb. 25.

“Our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Lightfoot and Preckwinkle. “That said, our greatest challenge in doing so is the very limited supply of vaccine we are receiving. While we are making progress every day with vaccinating people in 1a and 1b, at this time we are not being supplied with enough doses that would allow us to expand eligibility in these phases. Doing so in Chicago and Cook County would add well over one million additional people to 1b, and the result would be that those currently eligible, including seniors, frontline essential workers and those in our most heavily COVID-burdened communities, would have an even harder time getting a vaccine.”

Yesterday, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that the state is expanding Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccination eligibility in two weeks to include people under 65 who have comorbidities and underlying conditions as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, the state will also prioritize individuals with disabilities.

State, National, Global COVID-19 Updates
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today 2,838 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 102 deaths.

The total number of cases in the state is 1,155,833 with a total of 19,841 deaths. IDPH says that in the past 24 hours, 96,525 test specimens have been processed, with a positivity rate of 2.9%. The preliminary 7-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests from Feb. 4-10 is 3.3%, and the seven-day test positivity rate is 3.9%.

Statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations in the past 24 hours decreased from 2,085 patients to 1,954 patients (lowest level in four months). Of that figure, 448 patients were in the ICU, with 227 patients on ventilators.

A total of 1,929,850 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago. In addition, approximately 456,100 doses total have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities This brings the total Illinois doses to 2,385,950. A total of 1,549,108 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of last midnight, including 226,974 for long-term care facilities. The 7-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 56,094 doses. Yesterday, 69,029 doses were administered.

Today’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) figures showed more than 27.1 million confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. (a daily increase of more than 97,000 cases), with 470,110 deaths (a daily increase of 3,645).

Today’s WHO Coronavirus Disease Dashboard showed more than 106.9 million COVID-19 cases globally (a daily increase of more than 413,000 cases), with more than 2.34 million deaths. The Region of the Americas (includes the U.S.) continues to lead the world with more than 47.6 million cases and more than 1.1 million deaths.

CDC: Double Masking, Tight-Fitting Masks Effective
On Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released experimental findings indicating that double masking – wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask – offers more protection against the coronavirus, as does tying knots on the ear loops of surgical masks.

In a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC says it conducted experiments to assess two ways of improving the fit of medical procedure masks: fitting cloth mask over a medical procedure mask, and knotting the ear loops of a medical procedure mask and then tucking in and flattening the extra material close to the face. In lab tests with dummies, exposure to potentially infectious aerosols decreased by about 95% when they both wore tightly fitted masks. For optimal protection, the CDC says to make sure the mask fits snugly against your face and to choose a mask with at least two layers.

HR Webinar Addresses Social Media Search: Feb. 17
Checking job candidates’ social media activity has taken on a greater importance in employment background checks. Learn how to incorporate social media search as a tool to hire the right candidates and protect your brand reputation.

HireRight, an IHA-endorsed company, will present “The Real World of Social Media Screening,” a webinar on Feb. 17 from 1-2 p.m. The complimentary webinar will explore the social media screening program launched at the biotechnology firm Amgen—and the challenges and successes that followed.

Amgen’s security manager, Will Dobbins, along with HireRight Associate Counsel Alonzo Martinez, will discuss:

  • How Amgen fits social media screening into its screening workflow; and
  • The employer compliance perspective on social media screening.

The webinar builds on a previous program HireRight offered with Fama Technologies, “Protecting Your Brand With Social Media Screening.”

With over 30 years in business, HireRight is a recognized leader in employment background screening solutions. HireRight staff help clients mitigate employee risk, make informed hiring decisions and meet compliance obligations. Register for the Feb. 17 webinar today.