Dec 6, 2022
Vol 4, Issue 10
Is it COVID-19 or flu? Now families can know for sure.
The “tripledemic” is already threatening in-person learning. Here’s what to know.
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Is it COVID-19 or flu? Now families can know for sure.
Meet BD Triplex. The new test that detects Flu A & B and COVID-19.
What is BD Triplex? BD Veritor Plus Triplex (SARS-CoV2, Flu A+B) or “BD Triplex” is a point-of-care rapid antigen test that can help stop the spread of respiratory illnesses by detecting both COVID-19 and Flu A & B with a single sample. It requires an analyzer to read test results. (If you already have a BD analyzer, you won’t need a new one to run these tests).
Why now? Consider the benefits of BD Triplex! A test that detects Flu A & B as well as COVID-19 can be a useful tool during seasons of high transmission of respiratory illnesses. Flu and RSV transmission rates are the highest we have seen in years, and new omicron subvariants are causing upticks in cases and hospitalizations. When families know for sure if their child has COVID-19 or the flu, they can make informed decisions about staying home…and when school environments are healthy, everyone can get back to learning sooner!
Using BD Triplex is completely optional. Using BD Triplex is completely voluntary, just like regular COVID-19 testing. Our BD Triplex Toolkit includes a link to translated consent forms so families can quickly opt-in to this testing strategy if they choose.
We recognize the challenges and resource requirements involved in offering a new test to your school community. Your Health Commons Program Manager can help you quickly onboard this new test and provide resources for communicating the change to your school community.
Contact your Program Manager if you are interested in learning more.
Next steps! Get started with BD Triplex:
Place your order
BD Triplex test cards and analyzers are now available on the DOH ordering portal. Order tests ASAP so you have enough supplies on hand for January when testing demand will likely increase.
Inform families if your school plans to offer BD Triplex.
Use this customizable email template to share information about BD Triplex with families as well as a new consent form to sign if they want their child to have access to this test. (The email template is in English only but translated versions will soon be added to the folder linked above).
Winter respiratory surge.
Hospitalization rates for three respiratory diseases (Flu, RSV, and COVID-19) are increasing in Washington and the rest of the country. The “tripledemic” is already posing a threat to in-person learning.
Here are a few updates and tips on how to help prepare for a winter respiratory surge.
- Flu hospitalization rates in Washington state are the highest in 10 years for this point in the year.
- RSV hospitalization rates nationwide are much higher than previous years at this point in the year (25 per 100k population), according to CDC surveillance network data.
- COVID-19 hospitalization rates increased from 3.8 to 4.5 per 100k population between November 1st and November 19th but remain below summer peaks (~10.5 per 100k population).
- COVID-19 hospitalizations among children and youth in Washington state increased over the most recent two-week reporting period (November 05 to November 19, 2022), going up from 20 to 24 hospitalizations (1.1 to 1.3 hospitalizations per 100k population).
- See the DOH report, “COVID-19 Cases Among Children and Youth in Washington,” for more details about these age groups. There is also a Spanish language version of this report available.
- COVID-19 case rates in Washington have increased by 33% through November (from 51 to 68 cases per 100k population) but remain below peaks this past summer (~250 cases per 100k).
- Due to an increase in at-home testing, many positive cases may not be reported, distorting the data. Test positivity rates in Washington are steadily increasing after a lull earlier in the fall suggesting that many infections are not being reported. According to the New York Times COVID-19 data tracker, test positivity nationwide has increased by 40% over the past two weeks.
- COVID-19 cases among children and youth in Washington state increased by ~9%, over the most recent two-week reporting period (November 05 to November 19, 2022), going up from 1,205 to 1,312 cases (63.9 to 69.6 cases per 100k population).
- Around 25% of Washingtonians have received the bivalent booster which protects against omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 and may offer protection against newer variants like B.Q.1.1.
- Even fewer children and youth have received a bivalent booster:
- Ages 5-11: 16.3%
- Ages 12-15: 15.9%
- Ages 16-17: 13%
How to prepare for a winter respiratory surge:
- Monitor your COVID-19 Community Level to determine when to start additional mitigation strategies in school such as masking and screening testing.
- Stock up on rapid antigen tests to prepare for higher demand for onsite testing as kids return from Winter Break. Schools must place orders by Dec 7th to receive tests before the break (if ordered on the 7th, they will arrive by Dec 16th).
- Read our Guidance FAQs to learn about the different requirements and recommendations around isolation included in the updated DOH guidance.
- Get the bivalent booster and encourage others to do so!
- Use the DOH RSV toolkit to provide key communications to your school community about limiting RSV transmission and what to do if kids have RSV symptoms.
- Get your flu shot and encourage others to do so!
- Consider adding BD Triplex to your testing strategy. A single test detects COVID-19 and Flu A & B!
- Encourage safe practices like washing hands and staying home when sick.
Know your COVID-19 community levels
County levels for Washington state as of Thursday, December 1, 2022.
As of Thursday, December 1, 2022, two counties, Garfield County and Asotin County, have a COVID-19 community level of medium, according to the CDC.
All other counties have a low COVID-19 community level, except for Whatcom County, which has no data for this reporting period.
Due to an increase in at-home testing, many positive cases may not be reflected in the data. Positivity rates for lab tests in Washington have been increasing over the past several weeks, suggesting that case counts are lower than recorded.
Make sure to monitor your COVID-19 community levels to know when to use additional mitigation strategies in school such as masking and screening testing.
- Masking and screening testing are recommended best practices when your community level is high.
- Masking is recommended for high-risk individuals when your community level is medium or high.
- Scroll down until you see the “State or Territory” dropdown (Washington state should already be selected; if not, select it from the dropdown list).
- Under the “County or metro area” dropdown, select your county.
- Your COVID-19 Community Level data will automatically populate below.
How are community levels determined?
The CDC uses data on weekly case rates, hospitalizations, and hospital capacity (% of inpatient beds used by COVID-19 patients) to determine COVID-19 Community Levels for each county. Learn more about how the CDC calculates community levels here.
Bulk Upload of COVID-19 Results in SimpleReport
The CDC has added a new way to report many COVID-19 test results in SimpleReport all at once, in addition to the existing manual reporting method. The bulk upload option allows users to report results using a CSV file. Users will have access to a spreadsheet provided by CDC that is formatted to meet the data reporting requirements for state and local health departments.
The CDC bulk results upload guide includes a video tutorial, data formatting guide, and step-by-step instructions for preparing and uploading a spreadsheet. Some helpful features of the bulk upload option include:
- An alert if there are missing or incorrect pieces of information when a spreadsheet is submitted and a prompt to correct them prior to resubmitting.
- A search tool to look up the device code that you will use to fill out the equipment model name and tests performed code in the spreadsheet.
If you have questions, please contact your Health Commons Program Manager. If you haven’t used your SimpleReport account for over 60 days, please contact email@example.com to help you reestablish account access.
RSV, covid and flu push hospitals to the brink — and it may get worse
The Washington Post, 20 November 2022. Hospitals across the United States are overwhelmed. The combination of a swarm of respiratory illnesses (RSV, coronavirus, flu), staffing shortages and nursing home closures has sparked the state of distress visited upon the already overburdened health-care system. And experts believe the problem will deteriorate further in coming months.
Flu and RSV are overwhelming children’s hospitals. How many beds are free in your state?
Today, 29 November 2022. Influenza cases, meanwhile, are skyrocketing, with 18.22% of tests for the virus coming back positive compared to 8.16% just four weeks prior, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitalizations at this point in the season are higher than they’ve been in 10 years, driven in large part by kids. About 3,000 people, including 12 children, have died from the flu in the U.S. since October.
Here’s how to know when your child is too sick for school
CNN, 30 November 2022. The public health challenge this year is that while many children were kept home to protect against Covid-19, they were also isolated from RSV, meaning more are having their first — and therefore most severe — infection now, said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
School principals say culture wars made last year ‘rough as hell’
NPR, 01 December 2022. Researchers found that schools in purple congressional districts (where Trump won 45–54.9% of the vote in 2020) were more likely to experience “acute” levels of political conflict than schools in blue districts (where the vote for Trump dipped below 45%) or in red districts (where Trump support exceeded 55%).