Letter to U.S. Governors from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on COVID-19, Flu, and RSV Resources

December 2, 2022

Pricey Governor,

As we have all described, elements of the nation are at the moment going through a confluence of respiratory ailments, such as COVID-19, Influenza (flu), and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), particularly amongst kids, and this challenge is escalating strain on our well being care and hospital units. I produce right now to enhance that the Biden-Harris Administration stands completely ready to continue on aiding you with resources, supplies, and staff, as it has through our fight versus COVID-19.

As we head into the winter months, let me reiterate that there are sources and tools available to you and your team to bolster your potential to react to RSV and other infectious conditions, including flexibilities that have been in position all through the COVID-19 Community Well being Unexpected emergency (PHE). As your federal companion, we stand completely ready to appraise any ask for for federal medical guidance and help – together with requests for health care personnel and products – working in shut coordination with you and nearby jurisdictions to determine the demands and availability of matching resources.

Of observe, the Administration has exercised regulatory flexibilities to aid wellness care companies and suppliers keep on to react to COVID-19. These flexibilities – when vital in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic – can also enable address a lot of of the difficulties you facial area during the unfold of non-COVID-19 health problems, like RSV and flu. They continue to be offered to you and wellness treatment vendors as you all make care readily available in reaction to flu, RSV, COVID-19, and other illnesses.

Extra resources are out there as well, which includes practically $400 million in funding from the Centers for Disorder Control and Avoidance (CDC) to get ready for and reply to community well being threats every yr, such as flu and other respiratory ailments these kinds of as RSV. We also continue to offer information on indicators and care for RSV, flu, and COVID-19, strategies to reduce these diseases, and updates on ongoing exploration and epidemiology to help advise what is taking place in your state. In addition, we have taken motion to watch the offer chain for vital medicine and gadgets, doing the job closely with manufacturers and other groups in the supply chain and leveraging all the available applications to make certain adequate availability.

In addition to these resources and resources, about the earlier thirty day period, we have engaged with your workplace by means of a conference hosted by the Nationwide Governors Association with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell, and subsequent calls with Assistant Secretary for Wellness Admiral Rachel Levine to share the most up-to-date facts on RSV and accessible methods at the Office of Wellbeing and Human Solutions (HHS).

You and your resilient community health officers enjoy a incredible part in keeping our nation healthful. Thank you for your hard do the job and commitment as we continue on to function together to reply to RSV, flu, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses. I seem ahead to hearing from you about how we can very best assist you and your area jurisdictions.

Secretary Xavier Becerra
Office of Overall health and Human Services

Existing Flexibilities in Spot and Offered to be Utilized: The Administration has exercised regulatory flexibilities to enable health and fitness treatment companies and suppliers proceed to answer to COVID-19. These flexibilities – although essential in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic – can also assistance tackle numerous of the challenges brought on by the present-day confluence of COVID-19 with other respiratory and seasonal health problems, such as RSV and flu. These flexibilities remain readily available to you and your jurisdiction’s health and fitness care providers to handle all of these illnesses. As a end result of the COVID-19 PHE, the pursuing flexibilities are out there to states and wellbeing care systems:

  • The Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Products and services (CMS) has issued blanket waivers that let hospitals to monitor or triage sufferers off website provide treatment in momentary enlargement web-sites to enhance surge potential and far more very easily transfer people between services. Suppliers have requested for these flexibilities to aid avoid the spread of infection in crowded areas and far more efficiently deliver secure treatment in the most appropriate settings obtainable. These flexibilities remain obtainable to tackle rising problems, such as the unfold of RSV and flu, when a company establishes that – as a outcome of the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 emergency – conventional regulatory demands could not if not be fulfilled. For illustration, if nationwide staffing shortages that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic would induce a facility to be unable to meet a normal regulatory prerequisite, a provider may avail themselves of the blanket waiver, even if the main use of that waiver is to guide the provider in stopping the unfold of other respiratory ailments, these as RSV and flu. Far more information on these and other obtainable flexibilities is readily available below.
  • Furthermore, we know there is an enhanced interest in the use of telehealth systems to make guaranteed households can get the care they want whilst minimizing their threat of infection. Medicaid organizations have experienced the authority to authorize wellbeing care products and services in Medicaid and the Children’s Wellness Insurance policies Software (CHIP) to be delivered through telehealth for decades. CMS will keep on to really encourage Medicaid organizations to increase telehealth flexibilities throughout and just after the COVID-19 PHE, including by developing a dedicated web-site and toolkit to assist states’ implementation of telehealth technologies.1

Surge Setting up:  The Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Reaction (ASPR) stands all set to consider any official request for federal professional medical assistance – including requests for professional medical staff – doing the job in shut coordination with the requesting point out/jurisdiction to establish the requires and availability of matching means. Methods that can be designed readily available by means of formal requests incorporate:

  • Healthcare devices and gadgets, these as ventilators and PPE through the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)
  • Materials, like for tests supplies for RSV, COVID-19, and flu
  • Federal medical staff such as from the National Disaster Professional medical Program (NDMS) groups, or other contracted staff and
  • United States Community Overall health Support Officers, who are healthcare staff this sort of as nurses and pharmacists.

I stimulate you to converse instantly with ASPR regional team to receive additional details and talk any requests.

ASPR also has technical sources obtainable to all states and jurisdictions. These sources involve strategies for mattress coordination among the services and locations, greatest methods for enhanced use of telehealth for triage to stay away from needless emergency home visits, surge reaction system templates, and medical guidance equipment. ASPR stands completely ready to provide technical aid and support for any wellbeing treatment facility or process that need it in their surge functions organizing. As section of our ongoing outreach to well being care units and jurisdictions, HHS has hosted city halls across all 10 HHS regions and has held normal office hrs as a result of our Place of work of Intergovernmental and Exterior Affairs to share very best practices and mitigation techniques. Much more information and facts can be discovered here.  

Fiscal Means:The greatest class of prevention of respiratory ailment this fall and wintertime proceeds to be popular vaccination against the flu and COVID-19 – which includes making certain suitable people today have acquired an current COVID-19 vaccine that improves defense against COVID-19 and targets the Omicron variant. Vaccination can alleviate strain on hospitals and stop fatalities. The federal authorities has offered significant funding as a result of the American Rescue Approach and other COVID-19 reduction packages that can be utilized to increase and boost vaccination. This assist features almost $400 million in funding from CDC to states to put together for and respond to community overall health threats each and every calendar year, like flu and other respiratory conditions such as RSV. Other methods incorporate the Preventive Overall health and Health Services Block Grant (PHHS).  We motivate you to learn much more about the range of state-based mostly sources listed here: Grant Funding Profiles – CDC.

Trend Knowledge, Research, and Treatment: CDC gives details on signs and treatment for RSV, methods to protect against RSV, and details about ongoing study and epidemiology that could be useful to comprehending what is taking place in your point out. At RSV References and Means | CDC, your staff can also come across focused instructional materials for people today at high-risk for severe RSV infection and for wellbeing care companies.

Offer Chain Checking: The U.S. Foodstuff and Drug Administration (Fda), in coordination with other individuals across HHS, is monitoring supplies of essential medication and gadgets, working closely with makers and other teams in the supply chain, and leveraging all the resources as its disposal to assure satisfactory availability. We persuade you to arrive at out to the FDA’s Intergovernmental Affairs workforce (IGA@food and drug administration.hhs.gov) with inquiries or challenges on offer chains.


1  See https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/downloads/medicaid-chip-telehealth-toolkit.pdf and https://www.medicaid.gov/methods-for-states/coronavirus-illness-2019-covid-19/equipment-and-checklists-for-states/index.html.