People in Action
Investigating the first US case of COVID-19
Medical Officer CDR Satish Pillai, MD, MPH, led a CDC expert team to help Washington state health officials investigate the first identified person with confirmed COVID-19 in the United States. Dr. Pillai met with the patient and healthcare workers and worked with hospital officials to institute infection control measures. He assisted in an extensive effort to identify the patient’s contacts and consulted with the governor and other state officials. This early investigation provided valuable insightsexternal icon to the US Government’s response to the outbreak.
CDC Fort Collins transfers 9 tons of PPE
CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in Fort Collins, Colorado, had a warehouse of personal protective equipment (PPE) stored in case of a bioterrorist attack. When the COVID-19 outbreak began, the Fort Collins lab opened that supply to other public health agencies. “If one piece of PPE saves some someone’s life, then mission accomplished,” said Health Scientist Rusty Enscore, MS, who led an inventory of the equipment. The staff transferred about 18,000 pounds of vital gear to states, including two truckloads—about seven tons—to keep Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) from running out of PPE for healthcare workers and other responders.
Controlling COVID-19 in nursing homes
When a Seattle-area nursing home became the first US long-term care facility to experience an outbreak of COVID-19, Medical Epidemiologist Nimalie Stone, MD, was on the case. Dr. Stone is long-standing leader in preventing infections in long-term care settings, and she has played a critical role in finding solutions that protect those residents. Her efforts have informed CDC guidance for the rest of the country’s long-term care facilities about what to expect and how to prepare to care for residents with COVID-19.
Crafting a strategy on masks
John Anderton, PhD, MPA, led a multidisciplinary effort to introduce wearing of masks as a social norm to fight the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Anderton, a CDC communications officer, crafted the framework to describe how wearing of masks in addition to other CDC recommendations of frequent hand washing, social distancing, and following isolation guidance, might help reduce the spread of illness. That guidance substantially boosted the acceptance of wearing masks in public.
Data in Action
COVID-NET provides national data on laboratory-confirmed hospitalizations. On April 17, data were added on COVID-19-associated hospitalizations by age with race and ethnicity information, and on selected underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. The data show that the percentage of hospitalized patients who were non-Hispanic black (31%) was disproportionate to the percentage of non-Hispanic black residents in the hospitals’ communities (18%).
COVID19Surge is a spreadsheet-based tool that hospital administrators and public health officials can use to estimate the surge in demand for hospital-based services during the COVID-19 pandemic. A user of COVID19Surge can produce estimates of the number of COVID-19 patients that need to be hospitalized, the number requiring ICU care, and the number requiring ventilator support. The user can then compare those estimates with hospital capacity, using either existing capacity or estimates of expanded capacity. The data can help hospitals prepare for possible an increase or decrease in cases.
Research In Action
CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report has published the findings of numerous investigations into outbreaks of COVID-19 since the early days of the epidemic. MMWR authors have documented what underlying conditions can leave people at higher risk for severe illness, how the disease spread to California healthcare workers early in the outbreak, and how COVID-19 spread in Singapore before some people showed any symptoms of the disease.
CDC’s scientific journal Emerging Infectious Diseases has published dozens of studies by researchers worldwide. Published papers have ranged from case studies of patients who fell ill aboard cruise ships, to how air conditioning helped spread the virus from table to table at a restaurant in China.