Several public health messages were announced recently by a variety of government agencies, including the White House, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), regarding the COVID-19 public health emergency end dates, available resources for COVID-19 and HIV testing moving forward, and important product recalls.
Federal and State – COVID-19 Public Health Emergency End Date Planned
The Federal Government and State of California have each announced plans to end the COVID-19 public health emergency. President Biden announced plans to end the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11, 2023 (White House Announcement), while Governor Newsom announced an end to the COVID-19 State of Emergency on February 28, 2023 (Governor Newsom’s Announcement).
As COVID-19 continues to adversely affect individuals, everyone is strongly advised to make informed decisions to prevent severe COVID-19 illness. The County Health Officer strongly recommends all county residents consider creating the following COVID-19 Action Plan for themselves:
- Know your risk. Those with a weakened immune system or live with someone who does, are strongly encouraged to take preventive measures to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- Protect yourself. Get an updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, improve ventilation, wash hands often, wear a well-fitted mask.
- Take action if exposed. Monitor symptoms, consider wearing a mask around others when in public and test for COVID if you develop symptoms or if you plan to come into contact with someone who may have a weakened immune system.
- Take action if you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19. Get tested and consider treatment- visit the Test to Treat website to find a location for treatment.
For more information visit: Information for Persons Who Are Immunocompromised Regarding Prevention and Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in the Context of Currently Circulating Omicron Sublineages — United States, January 2023 | MMWR (cdc.gov)
Receiving an updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccine remains the most effective way to prevent severe COVID-19 illness. Eligible individuals who have not yet received their bivalent booster are encouraged to do so. Visit www.vaccines.gov.
Additionally, testing and treatment are important measures to help immediately detect illness and reduce chances of developing severe illness from COVID-19 for those at high risk. CDPH recently launched a public message campaign “Test It, Treat It, You Can Beat It!” Visit CDPH website www.youcanbeatit.org for more information on prevention, testing and treatment.
Increased Community Access to COVID-19 Testing Program
Last month, CDC launched the Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) program. The ICATT program provides access to COVID-19 testing in communities at greater risk of being impacted by the pandemic, for people without health insurance, and for surge testing in state and local jurisdictions.
The ICATT program created the No-Cost COVID-19 testing locator webpage to help residents find COVID-19 testing locations and to provide contact information for the providers. The testing locator searches for testing providers using a ZIP Code or street address and will prompt users to the nearest location(s) to make an appointment for a test.
New At-Home HIV Test Kits Website Launched
To support ongoing efforts to end the HIV epidemic, CDPH, Office of AIDS (CDPH-OA) recently announced the launch of an OraQuick HIV self-testing program to all counties in California through the Building Healthy Online Communities: Take Me Home program (BHOC-TMH).
This program puts an effective free HIV screening tool directly into the hands of Californians (ages 17+) who request it via the BHOC-TMH website. The BHOC partnership developed the National Home Test Kits program for state and local health departments to offer confidential HIV and comprehensive sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing delivered securely and discreetly directly to constituents.
“HIV remains a public health challenge and knowing your HIV status helps prevent new infections,” said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the County Health Officer and HCA’s Acting Chief of Public Health Services. “This new resource supports testing through a secure and discreet at-home option and increases access for people with limited transportation or mobility.”
For more information visit, https://takemehome.org/.
Local support is available at the OC Health Care Agency/17th Street Testing, Treatment and Care Clinic: Call (714) 834-8787 to make an appointment or visit.
Drug-Resistant Pseudomonas Infection Associated with Artificial Tears
On February 1, 2023, CDC issued a Health Alert Advisory about infections with an extensively drug-resistant strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (VIM-GES-CRPA) in 12 states. Most patients reported using more than 10 different brands of artificial tears with some patients using multiple brands. Many patients reported using EzriCare Artificial Tears, a preservative-free, over-the-counter product packaged in multidose bottles.
Patients and health care providers are advised to immediately discontinue using EzriCare Artificial Tears pending additional guidance from CDC and FDA, and patients should follow up with their health care provider for an alternative artificial tears product to use.
Anyone using EzriCare Artificial Tears and who has signs or symptoms of an eye infection, such as discharge from the eye, eye pain or discomfort, redness of the eye or eyelid, feeling of something in the eye, increased sensitivity to light, or blurry vision, should seek timely medical care. At this time, CDC does not recommend testing of patients who have used this product and who are not experiencing any signs or symptoms of infection.
The full CDC Health Alert Notification can be viewed HERE.
FDA Recalls “Diep Bao Cream” for Lead Contamination
FDA recently issued a recall of Shop Me Ca’s “Diep Bao Cream” baby cream because the 10-gram tubes have the potential to be contaminated with lead. Diep Bao Cream was sold nationwide through Shop Me Ca’s Facebook page and Vietnamese Moms’ Facebook groups.
Residents should stop using the product and dispose of it immediately. Consumers with questions may contact the company at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about this recall is available on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.
Adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of this product may be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.
- Complete and submit the report Online.
- Regular Mail or Fax: Download form or call 1-800-332-1088 to request a reporting form, then complete and return to the address on the pre-addressed form, or submit by fax to 1-800-FDA-0178.