11 January 2022

The latest updates on COVID-19, testing, and vaccines curated for L2R school districts.

Omicron Updates

DOH Guidance

Vendors Corner

washington trends

L2R Impact fund

FEMA Reimbursements


Omicron Update

Record cases as pandemic enters third year

The highly transmissible omicron variant has quickly become the dominant strain in Washington state and the rest of the country, driving unprecedented spikes in COVID-19 infections. 

Here’s what to know as we head into the New Year:

  • As of January 1, 2022, the CDC estimates that 95% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States are attributed to omicron.

  • Omicron is the most infectious variant of COVID-19.

  • Although omicron causes less severe disease than other variants, especially for vaccinated and boosted individuals, unprecedented rates of infection have led to a surge in hospitalizations and thus a strain on the healthcare system. 

  • Most people hospitalized from COVID-19 are unvaccinated individuals. In Washington state:

    • Unvaccinated 12 to 34-year-olds are 12 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 compared with their fully vaccinated counterparts. 

    • Unvaccinated 35 to 64-year-olds are 18 times more likely to be hospitalized than fully vaccinated individuals in their age group. 

    • Unvaccinated adults 65 and older are 13 times more likely to be hospitalized compared with their fully vaccinated counterparts.

  • Vaccines are the best protection against severe illness caused by omicron and other variants. Boosters increase protection against infection from all known variants, including omicron, and greatly decrease the likelihood of severe disease if infected.

    Boosters Authorized for Ages 12-15

    Use the Washington State Department of Health vaccine locator to schedule your vaccines and boosters.

    Omicron & Testing

    • Early data shows that rapid antigen tests detect the omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity.

      • The FDA, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is continuing to evaluate the performance of antigen tests using patient samples with live virus. Read the most recent FDA press release on omicron’s “Impact on Rapid Antigen Tests” for more details.

    • The FDA recommends continued use of rapid antigen tests for the detection of all variants of COVID-19 in accordance with the current guidance. 

    • We will continue to update L2R schools on testing guidance with regards to omicron detection as more data is made available.

    The bottom line is the tests still detect COVID-19 whether it is delta or alpha or omicron.” 

    Dr. Emily Volk

    President of the College of American Pathologists

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    Isolation, Quarantine, & Test-to-Stay

    The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has updated state isolation and quarantine guidance in alignment with recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on December 27. Test-to-Stay protocols for Washington’s K-12 schools have been updated to reflect these changes.

    Read the full DOH press release.

    Here’s what you need to know:

    • The recommended isolation time for people with COVID-19 has been reduced from 10 to 5 days if they are asymptomatic on day 5 and continue to mask around others for an additional 5 days. 

    • Unvaccinated individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 and fully vaccinated individuals who have not yet been boosted should quarantine for 5 days after known exposure, followed by strict mask use for another 5 days.

    • Vaccinated individuals who have received their booster do not need to quarantine following exposure but should wear a mask for 10 days afterward.

    • When in doubt, individuals should get tested on day 5 following known exposure and, as always, wear a mask when in public spaces during and after isolation or quarantine is completed.

    What this means for Test-to-Stay

    • Students and staff with any exposure – including in school and out of school settings – are now eligible for modified 5-day quarantine with Test-to-Stay, if they:

      • Are tested at least twice during the 5 days of quarantine; AND
      • Are asymptomatic; AND
      • Continue to wear a well-fitting mask when around others
    • Students and staff may also participate in extracurricular activities and school-related child care during modified quarantine, while adhering to mask and testing requirements, but must continue to quarantine from all social gatherings or community events.

    Reach out to your L2R Program Manager to find out how L2R can support your Test-to-Stay program.

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    Vendor’s Corner!

    Get to know BD Veritor

    L2R offers a range of testing technologies to support your testing programs and help ensure steady supply. Maintaining supply from a variety of L2R vendors is the best way to mitigate shortages.

    In this edition of Vendor’s Corner, we highlight the BD Veritor rapid antigen testing solution.

    Fast Facts:

    • BD Veritor is a DOH-approved rapid antigen testing technology available to L2R schools. 

    • Samples are collected with a shallow nasal swab.

    • Test results come back in 15 minutes. 

    • The BD Veritor™ Plus Analyzer provides quick and easily readable results. 

    • BD offers live trainings for those involved in testing programs and a library of resources for self-guided training. 

    • Orders for L2R schools take approximately 7 days to fulfill.

    Ready to make an order?

    Review the instructions in the BD Veritor Implementation Guide, then complete a DOH order form.

    Interested in a BD Veritor Training?

    Check out these upcoming live training modules from BD:

    “Get to Know BD Veritor” 

      • Wednesday, January 19 at 11:30am and 3:30pm

    “Hands-on Training”

      • Monday, January 24 at 12pm and 3pm

    To sign up, contact Sheridan Bufe at Sheridan.Bufe@bd.com.

    Reach out to your L2R Program Manager to explore how BD Veritor can support your testing strategy.

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    Washington Trends

    COVID-19 cases in children & youth

    Here are the key findings from the DOH report on cases among children and youth (ages 0-19) in Washington state from December 12 to December 26, 2021:

    • There were 11,356 COVID-19 cases (602.3 cases per 100,000)
    • Case rates are increasing, up from 353.1 cases per 100,000 for the period December 5 to December 192021
    • The highest case rates were in educational service district (ESD) 121 in northwestern Washington
    • The highest case rates were among 14 to 19-year-olds (1046.7 cases per 100,000)
    • Hospitalization rates are increasing.

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    L2R Impact Fund

    Still time to apply!

    Funding is available for programs that increase equitable engagement in COVID-19 testing and vaccination services for priority K-12 populations. 

    Visit the L2R Impact Fund page for answers to questions like:

    • Who is eligible? 
    • What type of programs are supported?
    • What are “priority K-12 populations?”
    • What is the application process like?

    Funding must be used by the end of June 2022 so don’t wait to get in touch with your L2R Program Manager about your proposal!

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    Funding for testing staff

    Reimbursement is available to cover costs for testing staff hired after January 1, 2020! Download the one-pager to learn more about this program and how to apply. 

    Eligible expenses also include: 

    • Air filtration system updates
    • CLIA waiver application fees
    • Temporary equipment for testing sites (e.g., tents)

    The deadline to apply for reimbursement has been extended to March 31, 2022.

    As a friendly reminder, the deadline for the Labor Request Support FTE Fund from DOH, in partnership with OSPI, was extended until January 31, 2022. These funds can help cover the costs of staff brought on to support increased testing in schools for sports and other activities.

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    covid-19 News

    Omicron Headlines


    The virus is spreading faster than ever, but new data offer hope.

    New York Times – January 3, 2022

    With growing evidence that the Omicron variant produces less severe illness than in earlier waves, governments are redoubling their focus on vaccinations and boosters, which are increasingly seen as the world’s ticket to “living with Covid.”


    Washington schools chief weighs in on chance of return to remote learning amid COVID surge

    Komo News – January 4, 2022

    Even though 20 percent of the total new cases reported in the state of Washington the week of Dec. 26 were kids 0-19 years old the state superintendent doesn’t see any need yet for a statewide order to return to distance learning.

    The F.D.A. clears booster shots for 12- to 15-year-olds

    The New York Times – January 3, 2022

    Because studies have shown that a Pfizer booster dose increases protection against the Omicron variant, a shorter interval might offer “better protection sooner,” the agency said. Other studies have shown that the potency of two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine ebbs over time.


    What parents should know about sending kids back to school during Omicron

    CNN – January 3, 2022

    While Omicron is more contagious than any previous variant, children who are vaccinated have a major advantage.


    U.S. reaches 1 million daily Covid cases in spread of omicron variant,

    NBC News  – January 4, 2022

    Even as U.S. case counts rose in recent weeks, reported deaths did not appear to be surging — suggesting that the omicron variant leads to a more mild form of Covid-19, especially among people who have been vaccinated.


    FDA authorizes coronavirus vaccine boosters for 12-to-15-year-olds as schools reopen amid omicron surge

    Washington Post  – January 3, 2022

    The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds, part of a broader effort to expand protection as schools, airlines and businesses struggle with massive disruptions caused by a surging omicron variant.


    Mass Seattle Schools COVID tests show 4% positive rate

    Komo News  – January 5, 2022

    Officials say around 4% of more than 14,000 Seattle Public Schools students and staff who participated in the district’s rapid testing clinics this week tested positive for COVID-19.


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