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Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

  • 1.  Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

    Posted 03-16-2020 12:40
    The CDC Division of Laboratory Systems is in the planning stages for hosting a series of calls very soon that are open to clinical laboratories across the US, and focused on testing related to COVID-19. Prior to scheduling the calls, the CDC-DLS is asking all of their clinical laboratory organization partners to prioritize topics. They understand there are many laboratory-related questions and topics that could be covered (ex. Include biosafety when collecting or testing specimens, availability of reagents/instruments/swabs, deferral of testing approval/oversight to states, FDA guidance), but need to know any additional topics and rank priorities.

    This is your chance to weigh in.

    What additional topics do you need covered by the CDC experts and what is your number one priority topic.



    Jim Flanigan, CAE
    Executive Vice President
    American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS)
    1861 International Drive, #200 McLean, VA 22102
    o: 571-748-3746 | m: 708-359-5721 | @jimflanigancae

  • 2.  RE: Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

    Posted 03-16-2020 13:31
    We have several topics that we would like to see addressed:

    • Availability of testing - Which labs are maxed out with specimens?  Who is still accepting specimens?  What are the prerequisities required for testing by various laboratories?
    • TAT from reference labs - Who is turning out results the quickest?  
    • Courier logistics - What is the quickest way to get these specimens to the testing sites?  Some of our couriers have a fever now and are finding out when they show up at the hospital to pick up a specimen!
    • Availability of viral transport media - What is the status of media availability?  Are we at risk for a shortage?
    • PPE for staff testing FLU swabs or Resp panels on patients who may also be tested for COVID19 - We need guidance on this topic.  Some of our patients are positive for COVID19 but have coexisting conditions that make them susceptible to other pathogens.

    Karrie Hovis, MHS, CMP, CQIA, MLS(ASCP)CM
    Education Coordinator
    Ochsner Health System
    (318) 617-2336

  • 3.  RE: Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

    Posted 03-17-2020 14:06

    A shout out to Coronavirus Response Coordinator Amb. Deborah Birx, MD - who recognized the contribution of laboratorians to the COVID testing efforts during an interview with a major news morning show this morning.  "Laboratorians are on the front lines, running these assays day and night so that people can get their diagnosis."  I got a number of texts from family and friends saying "Hey....isn't that what you do?"  Yes, yes it is.  More proof of what we already know.....what we do matters to patients and to the world.

    [Rebecca] [Dill-Devor]
    [MLS Supervisor]
    [UIHealthcare Iowa River Landing][Coralville] [IA]

  • 4.  RE: Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

    Posted 03-17-2020 17:51
    I am concerned about the laboratory workforce shortage. Are there enough laboratory professionals for the increased testing?

    Marcia Armstrong
    Professor Emeritus
    Honolulu HI
    (808) 955-2263

  • 5.  RE: Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

    Posted 03-18-2020 08:08
    Marcia:  Of course I have similar concerns, but right now what I am seeing is the following in our health system and in Minnesota.

    • All elective surgeries and many ambulatory surgery center elective surgeries are being canceled across the state.  This is lessening our "normal" laboratory testing workload.
    • We are starting, today, seeing that we are canceling or rescheduling "routine" clinic visits
    • In general we have been seeing lower volumes this week in clinical and anatomic path labs.  It allows us to redeploy people.  It also allows us to be properly staffed as we get sick calls or absences due to needing to stay home with children who are out of school
    • We don't currently test for COVID-19 in our system - we send out, but yesterday the state made a decision to stop collecting ambulatory specimens and only sending out for inpatients, healthcare workers, 1st responders and "ill persons in congregant settings" (i.e. nursing homes).

    Rick Panning
    Senior Administrative Director
    Bloomington MN

  • 6.  RE: Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

    Posted 03-19-2020 21:41
    At UTMB, we are testing for COV-19.  Several of our CLS staff and faculty have volunteered to help the Pathology Laboratory, even as we are putting classes online.  Additionally, we have donated supplies and equipment that were in our student laboratory to help move the testing forward.  As a final step, we are asking our students to consider volunteering to help out the clinical laboratory in any areas where they have already developed competency.  Just some ideas of how us in education can help out clinical laboratory personnel.  Maybe the payback later will be more clinical rotation sites :-)

    Vicki Freeman, Ph.D. MLS(ASCP)SC FAACC
    Chair and Professor, Clinical Laboratory Sciences
    University of Texas Medical Branch

  • 7.  RE: Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

    Posted 03-19-2020 21:47
    ​This is a great idea.  In our market it won't work as we can't let the student back in our facilities or any non-employees.


    Rick Panning
    Senior Administrative Director
    Bloomington MN

  • 8.  RE: Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

    Posted 03-18-2020 11:24
    Aside from the BSL, safety and FDA guidance talks (all top priority), the next topic priority-wise in my mind is: Due to EUA and fast-implementation, we do not have robust sensitivity information about these assays.  What system needs to be put in place for call-back, and/or follow-up testing/repeat testing should we discover high false-positive or false-negative rates during the course of this outbreak?
    Given the severity of follow-up 14 day isolation of those infected and 14 day quarantine for those in contact with the infected, false positives are likely to have just as severe an impact as false-negatives on people's lives.

    Marianne Downes
    Assistant Professor
    West Virginia University
    Morgantown WV
    (130) 429-3163 x3

  • 9.  RE: Topics for CDC Outreach on COVID-19

    Posted 03-19-2020 00:10
    Great Question Marcia!

    I sent several questions to those at FDA and CDC on a recent lab interoperability call.

    1.  With laboratory professional shortages, where will capacity come from if health care workers are ill or quarantined?

    2.  Is there a national registry (i.e. ASCP BoR) where a list of all lab professionals could be obtained?  How many are in positions that are not directly involved in patient care and employers may permit folks to be mobilized in needed in their communities?  May be recent retirees, those in industry or other types of positions.  Know of several who'd be interested in helping out in their communities, but don't know how.

    I've been involved in medical reserve corps and the one in IL where I used to live has been mobilized to address questions.  Mostly staffed by RNs as I was the only lab professional.  Previous to that I was on the one for my county and the UMN.  Did participate in a vaccination drill.  There are often roles we are well suited for even if we can't dispense.   (Not there yet, but in case we are in the future.)

    3.  Asked about informatics barriers.  LOINCs are available on the Pre Release page and been asking IVD vendors to request.  Assisted several who developed their own LDTs for COVID-19 testing choose the right LOINC so they can build in their LIS, EHR, and submit in their ELR messages.  There are also CPT, SNOMED CT, ICD codes.  All will be helpful for public health reporting, but also analytics, monitoring, clinical decision support, etc in our information systems.

    4.  Regarding shortages of resources, whether reagents, supplies like PPE, etc. how do resources get to where they are needed most?  What additional can government do to help manufacturers scale (many are) and get to the front lines?

    For those who have worked on laboratory professional workforce shortages, would there be a way to mobilize lab professionals across the country?  (or legal, regulatory or other aspects that might be barriers?)

    What other needs do laboratories have during the pandemic?

    Grateful for all of you working hard at the front lines across the country during this challenging time.


    Andrea Pitkus
    Clinical Terminology Domain Expert
    University of Wisconsin - Madison
    Middleton WI