Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak Update #6

NH DPHS Health AlertsOn March 6, 2020, NH DHHS issued a health alert update regarding the corona virus outbreak.

Key Points and Recommendations:

  1. Regarding asymptomatic travelers, the CDC is now advising that all travelers from countries with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice should be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days from their last day in the country. Please review this CDC website.
    • The NH Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) recommends that businesses and healthcare facilities ask their employees about travel to these countries and exclude identified employees from work for the recommended duration. 
    • Household members of people who traveled to these countries, but who themselves did not travel, are not required to self-quarantine. 
    • A self-quarantine guide can be found on the NH DPHS website.
  2. Symptomatic people should call their healthcare provider for a risk assessment. Please do not direct your symptomatic patients to call NH DPHS. Providers should use the updated testing algorithm below to guide testing decisions. If the provider establishes that testing is warranted for COVID-19, please contact NH DPHS at 603-271-4496 (after-hours 603-271-5300). 
  3. Patients who are afebrile with only mild upper respiratory tract illness (e.g., sore throat, rhinorrhea, sinus congestion) and no clear COVID-19 exposure risk likely do not require COVID-19 testing, and should avoid coming into the office if not in need of medical attention. They should be advised to stay home until afebrile for at least 24 hours and respiratory symptoms improve. 
  4. If testing is warranted, sample collection for COVID-19 testing should be performed with recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, gown, respiratory protection (at least as protective as a fit-tested N95 respirator), and eye protection. 
    • According to CDC guidance, evaluation and specimen collection should be conducted in either an Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR), OR an examination room with the door closed; this room should ideally not have exhaust that is recirculated within the building without HEPA filtration. 
  5. For providers and offices that are unable to safely test patients as described, they should work to identify local healthcare partners and facilities that are able and willing to conduct testing. 
    • Do not send a patient to a facility without pre-arrangement
  6. All acute care hospitals should develop plans and procedures to increase safe sample collection capacity for COVID-19. Ideally, sample collection will be conducted in such a way to not require patients to enter the facility. Models explored by other hospitals include developing outdoor sample collecting stations that allow patients to remain in their vehicles (i.e., drive-up service); healthcare providers collecting samples still need to use recommended PPE. For technical assistance to set this up, please contact NH  DPHS at 603-271-4496. 
  7. NH DPHS is also developing a mobile team of healthcare volunteers who will collect samples around the State. 
  8. NH DPHS hosted an informational Webinar on Wednesday March 3rd which was recorded and can now be viewed online. 
  9. We will be hosting weekly calls to answer healthcare provider and local partner questions about COVID-19. The first “chat” session will be held on Thursday March 12th from 12:00 – 1:00 pm (noon hour), and calls will recur weekly thereafter. Call-in information for the Q&A chat session is: 
    • Dial In: (833) 709-6685 

Read the full DHHS Alert