Why COVID-19 Situational Awareness Still Matters as National Emergency Ends
February 28, 2023
With the COVID-19 public health emergency ending May 11, it is a good time to reflect on what we have accomplished during the past three years.
Our facilities have stepped up in a variety of ways, from assisting in testing and vaccine administration to managing patient surges and staffing challenges to navigating supply chain issues, early and often, as products hit the growing list of shortages.
While the newest COVID-19 variant, Omicron XBB 1.5, is responsible for an estimated 85 percent of cases across the U.S., hospitalizations continue to trend downward as we approach the end of the winter. All news seems to be pointing in a positive direction.
During the fall and early winter, facilities were dealing with different viruses—namely RSV and influenza. Specifically, these viruses strained pediatric capabilities. Pediatric hospitals as well as hospitals with pediatric capabilities rallied to meet the demand. Now we see both of these pathogens decreasing as well.
It’s easy to fall into a sense of security over these positive trends, but the pandemic has taught us to stay on guard for changes that could affect our facilities. In recognition of these recent trends, the CDC has produced some new interactive dashboards to assist in awareness of these viruses.
Each of these platforms gives a different perspective on rates of illness, illness burden in the community, and impact on emergency departments. Some of this data can act as an early warning system to allow facilities to prepare for trending illnesses.
Consider leaning into some of these new resources for situational awareness. Becoming adept at using this type of data now can be helpful in monitoring for future surges. Reflect also on the team that has been formed during the past three years to monitor and respond to COVID-19, the flu, and RSV.
Situational awareness does not have to stay in the lane of one person or department. Emergency managers, infection preventionists, employee health providers, and nurses in administration and on the frontlines all have important perspectives to share. Use the expertise of those who have been in the trenches with you in preparing for future pathogen outbreaks.
For more information, contact Ryan Weaver, MBA, BSN, RN, CPPS, manager, emergency management.