This letter includes brief updates on COVID-19 reporting regulations, bivalent boosters, and the ending of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency.
Updates to Virginia’s COVID-19 Reporting Regulations
The State Board of Health’s emergency regulations for COVID-19 reporting expired on January 18, 2023. The Board updated the Virginia Regulations for Disease Reporting and Control (12VAC5-90-80 and 12VAC5-90-90), and the changes went into effect on January 18, 2023. Below, we highlight important updates specifically related to COVID-19 reporting. The updated regulations and the Virginia Reportable Disease List can be referenced on the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) website.
- Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2) was added to the Virginia Reportable Disease List.
- Physicians and directors of medical care facilities are required to report to the health department not only when a person who is infected with or who is suspected of having COVID-19 is treated or examined, but also if the person is hospitalized or admitted into an intensive care unit.
- The report must be sent electronically within three days of the suspicion or confirmation of disease using either VDH’s online Confidential Morbidity Report portal or electronic case reporting.
- The required data elements for reporting were updated to add the patient’s ethnicity and phone number, in addition to the already reportable items, including race.
- Directors of laboratories and other entities that hold a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments Certificates of Waiver (e.g., pharmacists) are required to report positive SARS-CoV-2 tests to VDH.
- The report must be submitted electronically within three days of identification using either VDH’s available portal for laboratory reporting (VDH’s COVID-19 Point of Care (POC) Test Reporting Portal) or electronic laboratory reporting.
- Negative SARS-CoV-2 test results are no longer required to be reported.
- The required data elements for reporting were updated to add the patient’s ethnicity, phone number, and email address, in addition to the already reportable items, including race.
- Severe coronavirus (e.g., infection caused by SARS-associated coronavirus [SARS-CoV] or middle eastern coronavirus [MERS-CoV]) continues to be an immediately reportable condition for physicians, directors of medical facilities and directors of laboratories.
- With the updated regulations, persons in charge of hospitals, nursing facilities or nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and correctional facilities are now required to notify persons practicing funeral services if the deceased person was known to have had a severe coronavirus infection.
CDC Recommends Updated Bivalent COVID-19 Booster for Certain Children Aged 6 Months through 4 Years
On March 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its Interim Clinical Considerations to allow children aged 6 months through 4 years who completed a 3-dose monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech primary series to receive a single bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech booster dose at least 2 months after completion of the primary series. For more information, please visit the CDC website.
COVID-19 Public Health Emergency to End on May 11, 2023
On January 30, the White House announced that both the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency (PHE) will end on May 11, 2023. The end of the PHE could impact costs or insurance coverage of COVID-19 related tests, treatments, and vaccines. Certain Medicare and Medicaid flexibilities or waivers will also end, but the timing of the end might be on or after May 11.
Emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines or treatments will not be impacted. Additionally, the distribution and allocation of federally purchased vaccines and therapeutics are not directly tied to the PHE. They will continue to be available, at no cost, to providers until they become commercially available. Virginia’s COVID-19 testing programs will continue to offer at-home test kits to vulnerable settings or populations as resources allow.
Despite the pending end of the federal PHE, COVID-19 remains an important public health issue. Together with our federal partners, VDH remains committed to monitoring trends and preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19. Please continue to encourage your patients to take measures to protect themselves and their families.
Parham Jaberi, MD, MPH
Acting State Health Commissioner