Health Care Providers

Public Health Reminder

Phase 3 of the Plan for Florida’s Recovery took effect September 25, 2020 for all Florida counties.

  • Elective surgeries can resume and citizens are encouraged not to delay medical care which may put their health at risk, as there is ample capacity at health care facilities.
  • Medical services, including elective procedures, surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental offices, orthodontic offices, endodontic office and other health care practitioners’ offices may fully re-open.
  • Hospitals are required to assist nursing homes and long-term care facilities in protecting the vulnerable. They must maintain adequate bed capacity and PPE. They must also have the capacity to immediately convert additional surgical and intensive care beds in a surge situation and must not have received or sought any additional federal, state or local government assistance regarding PPE after resuming elective procedures.

 

Healthcare providers are on the front lines of caring for patients with confirmed or possible COVID-19 and therefore have an increased risk of exposure to this virus. Providers can minimize their risk of exposure when caring for confirmed or possible COVID-19 patients by following Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.

All health care providers should be prepared to identify, collect specimens, and care for persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. Health care providers should immediately notify infection control personnel at their health care facility if they identify a person meeting the PUI for COVID-19 criteria.

 

Clinical Screening Tool for Identifying Persons Under Investigation

Symptomatic individuals should be asked to wear a surgical mask upon arrival. Initiate contact and airborne precautions, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Clinical Screening Tool for Identifying Persons Under Investigation for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Updated: May 11, 2020.

Take steps to ensure rapid safe triage and isolation of patients with symptoms of suspected COVID-19 or other respiratory infection (e.g., fever, cough). If an examination room is not readily available, ensure the patient is not allowed to wait among other patients seeking care. Health care personnel should adhere to Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions. See Guidelines for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings.

It is important to set up separate, well-ventilated triage areas, place patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in private rooms with the door closed and with private bathrooms (if possible). Reserve AIIRs for patients with COVID-19 undergoing aerosol generating procedures and for care of patients with pathogens transmitted by the airborne route (e.g. tuberculosis, measles, varicella).

 

Priorities for COVID-19 Testing

HIGH PRIORITY

  • Hospitalized patients with symptoms.
  • Health care facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms.
  • Residents in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings, including correctional and detention facilities and shelters, with symptoms.

PRIORITY

  • Persons with symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, and/or sore throat.
  • Persons without symptoms who are prioritized by health departments or clinicians, for any reason, including but not limited to public health monitoring, sentinel surveillance, or screening of other asymptomatic individuals according to state and local plans.
Testing

Collection of diagnostic respiratory specimens (e.g. nasopharyngeal swab) should be performed in a normal examination room with the door closed.

  • The health care provider is responsible for specimen collection, handling and shipping. Please follow CDC guidance.
  • High priority specimens should be processed within your health care facility, if available; a commercial laboratory (e.g., LabCorp and Quest), or the Florida Bureau of Public Health Laboratory (BPHL).
    • Before sending specimens to BPHL, contact your local county health department (CHD) Epidemiology Contacts.
  • Priority specimens can be processed within your health care facility, if available; or a commercial laboratory (e.g., LabCorp and Quest).
  • Health care providers may consult a local CHD for additional guidance as needed.

 

Additional Guidance

Providers are encouraged to frequently monitor Florida Department of Health and CDC websites for updated guidance on COVID-19.

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Related Outreach Materials

The Florida Department of Health is actively working with private and public partners to monitor COVID-19. The Florida Department of Health has set up testing sites throughout the state.

The Florida Department of Health is communicating regularly with the public and health care providers with updates on COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. The COVID-19 Call Center is available 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121.

Read about Governor DeSantis’ Plan for Florida’s Recovery.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are reliable and up-to-date sources of information about this evolving outbreak.

For Florida specific information, please consult the Florida Department of Health website: https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/.