Weekly Updates

02/23-03/01 Updates

Vaccine Information

To better meet demand, states are expanding the list of providers who are able to provide vaccines.

Vaccine Information

(02/24/21) Pharmacy Students, Dentists, Other Health Care Providers Can Administer COVID-19 Vaccine in Kansas
Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order allowing pharmacy students, dentists, paramedics and others in health care professions to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

(02/23/21) Calling All Vaccinators: Closing the Next Gap in COVID Supply and Demand
This article from Kaiser Health News reports that the demand for COVID-19 vaccines is outweighing the supply of vaccines and vaccinators. States have expanded liability protections and the scope of practice for some health professionals, permitting them to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. Some states are allowing dentists, paramedics, pharmacy interns and recently retired doctors and nurses to vaccinate the public. 

Surge Capacity Issues

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing workforce shortages in behavioral health.

Surge Capacity Issues

(02/23/21) Mental Health Experts Say Funding Needed to Address Needs Exacerbated by Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the prevalence of mental health distress in the U.S. The increasing behavioral health demand and existing workforce inadequacies are amplifying calls for Congress to provide additional resources to address a national mental health crisis.

Telehealth

Politicians are debating bills which seek to expand telehealth access and coverage beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telehealth

(02/25/21) Illinois Bill Would Allow Optometrists to Provide Telehealth Services
Illinois State Senator Ram Villivalam filed a new bill that would expand the use of telehealth and include optometric services.

(02/23/21) We Should Keep Expanding Telehealth, Even After the Pandemic
Senators Brian Schatz, Tim Scott, and state officials are proposing ways to permanently lift regulations that place geographic limits on telehealth in the new Telehealth Modernization Act.

Long-term Care

While long-term care facilities are seeing an end to the pandemic-related crisis, those who work in home-based care settings are experiencing difficulty accessing the vaccine.

Long-term Care

(02/24/21) Is the End of the Long-Term Care Crisis Within Sight? New COVID-19 Cases and Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities Are Dropping
A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that the number of residents contracting and dying of COVID-19 in nursing homes has significantly declined after the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine. This analysis compares trends in new COVID-19 cases and deaths among nursing facility residents with trends in all other new COVID-19 cases and deaths excluding nursing facility residents through February 7, 2021.

(02/23/21) Home Health Care Workers Having Little Success Getting Access to COVID-19 Vaccine
Home health care workers are struggling to get COVID-19 vaccines in Florida. It is unclear how many of the 80,000 home health care workers in Florida have been vaccinated but many health workforce agencies in the state are saying only a small portion of their workforce have been vaccinated so far.

Health Workforce Safety

A video from The New York Times covers the trauma of nurses treating COVID-19 patients in the intensive care units.

 FEMA allowed a waiver for protective gear to be exported from the US, even as US workers struggle to find adequate and safe supply.

 Health workforce researchers have issued a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking for better worker protections and guidelines to protect workers from COVID-19 infection.

Health Workforce Safety

(02/24/21) Death, Through a Nurse’s Eyes
This video published in the Opinion section of The New York Times follows two nurses in an intensive care unit in Phoenix, Arizona to give perspective on working with the patients most sick with COVID-19, a year into the pandemic. While vaccinations are easing the pressure on nurses and other health care workers, trauma and grief are still widespread and will likely have lasting negative impacts.

(02/19/21) Feds OK’d Export of Millions of N95 Masks as US Workers Cried for More
During a national shortage of N95 masks, the US government made an exception to an export ban on protective gear, allowing for the export of nearly 5 million masks per month. According to a FEMA letter obtained by KHN, FEMA issued a waiver to the protective gear ban near the end of Trump’s administration.

(02/17/21) Prominent Scientists Call on CDC to Better Protect Workers From COVID
This article from Kaiser Health News highlights key discussion points in a letter sent to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention by a group of research academics in an effort to help decrease the spread of the virus. Some high-profile signers include Rick Bright, an American immunologist; Michael Osterholm, an adviser to the Biden transition team; and Virginia Tech aerosol scientist Linsey Marr. The letter criticizes current guidelines and insists that more workers including EMTs, paramedics, and emergency room staff need access to top-rated N95 masks.

State Workforce Strategies

Colorado has launched an online portal to help improve their public health workforce and connect workers to available jobs.

State Workforce Strategies

(02/24/21) State Launches Portal to Connect Health Workers With Jobs
Colorado has launched an online portal to help connect health care workers with jobs in the state. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown need for improving the strength of the public health workforce and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment hopes this portal may help fill as many as 100 positions.

Regulatory Flexibility

The California Dentist Association is supporting bills to enable dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, among other flexibilities.

Regulatory Flexibility

(02/25/21) Dental Practice Stability, Vaccine Scope Expansion Head CDA’s Legislative Priorities in 2021
California Dental Association is sponsoring four bills in 2021, including a bill that could require dental and medical plans to support their provider networks during future state emergencies and a bill by Assembly member Jim Wood, DDS, to give dentists permanent authority to administer COVID-19 and flu vaccines.