Latest Information from Mississippi State Department of Health
Updates for Physicians and Providers
MSDH Health Alert Network Alert - March 19, 2020
Given the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in Mississippi and the shortage of protective medical equipment, elective medical procedures and non-essential medical visits must be postponed at this time.
The following measures must be taken:
- Physician, hospitals and medical centers must defer elective surgical and diagnostic procedures until COVID-19 spread has been diminished and the supply of protective medical equipment is restored.
- Physicians and providers should reschedule non-urgent medical appointments for a later date.
- Dentists must delay non-emergency or routine dental procedures.
- Patients should reschedule any non-essential procedures, surgeries or medical visits until the threat of COVID-19 is diminished.
These measures will protect patients and healthcare professionals by minimizing potential exposure to COVID-19 and preserving valuable protective equipment.
Alternatives to Viral Transport Media for COVID-19 Samples:
FDA has released new guidance that permits the use of saline for the transport of COVD-19 testing samples. The Mississippi State Department of Health will accept samples submitted according to the guidelines below.
Please see the FDA FAQ at: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/emergency-situations-medical-devices/faqs-diagnostic-testing-sars-cov-2
Q: I am having trouble obtaining viral transport media/universal transport media (VTM/UTM) to collect and transport patient samples. Are there alternatives that I can use?
A: While VTM/UTM remains the preferred transport media, FDA believes that the following alternative transport media could be used to collect and transport patient samples for molecular RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 assays in a manner that will stabilize the RNA without meaningful degradation:
- Liquid Amies-based transport media.
- E-Swab by Copan (Catalogue # 481C and 482C) with regular or flex minitip applicator
- Opti-Swab by Puritan (Catalogue # LA-117), swab included in kit (Catalog#3317-H).
- Storage: Up to 72 hours at 4℃, or frozen for longer storage.
If the above are not available, FDA believes that the following could be used to collect and transport samples for molecular RT-PCR sARS-CoV-2 assays:
- Dry swab in saline
- Puritan: 25-3317-H, 25-3316-U, 25-3316-H, 25-3317-U, 25-3318-U, 25-3318-H, 25-3319-H, 25-3320-U, 25-3320-U EMB 100MM, 25-3320-U EMB 80MM, 25-3320-H and 25-3320-H EMB 80MM
- Copan: 501CS01, 503CS01, 516CS01, 518CS01 and 534CS01
- Storage: Up to 72 hours at 4℃, or frozen for longer storage.
Please be aware that the CDC does not recommend use of calcium alginate swabs or swabs with wooden shafts, as they may contain substances that inactivate some viruses and inhibit PCR testing. MSDH is continuing to evaluate other options for specimen collection supplies, and we will update this list accordingly as this information becomes available.
MSDH lab will only accept the approved options above, in addition to the approved VTM/UTM. Do not send unapproved VTM or re-aliquoted VTM.
- Swabs alone are not sufficient for COVID-19 testing. Swabs must be transported in viral media transport tubes.
- Clinics should contact local hospital labs and/or Labcorp for media and swabs. MSDH cannot meet the current demand.
- With increased volumes of testing expected, clinics should start using Labcorp and other private labs as they become available.
- When seeing a febrile patient with respiratory illness, the patient should have on a surgical mask, AND those providing care should wear a surgical mask, eye/face protection (if available), gloves, and a disposable gown.
- MSDH recommends not wearing long sleeve lab coats.
- MSDH recommends frequent hand washing/gel use, especially after removing PPE.
- Try and keep acutely ill patients segregated from those not ill that are in clinic.
- Encourage patients not acutely ill from coming to clinic. Try and help them with their chronic medicine refills and push visits out, if possible and/or consider telemedicine visits for them, if available.
Prior approval from MSDH for submission of samples to the Mississippi Public Health Laboratory is no longer required. See the latest testing priorities in this document. View guidance.
Following the announcement of the first reported coronavirus (COVID-19) case in the state on 3/11/2020, Mississippi State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs, MD, MPH, and Mississippi Emergency Management Association (MEMA) Executive Director Gregory S. Michel held a press conference this morning announcing major updates and new community recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus. “The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) is expanding access to COVID-19 testing. Physicians may now submit specimens to the Mississippi Public Health Laboratory or commercial labs without prior consultation with MSDH, just like any other lab test. This will streamline necessary testing as much as possible,” said Dr. Dobbs.
FAQ's for COVID-19 Public Health Response in Mississippi. View here.
Additionally, Dobbs said the MSDH is expanding recommendations for long-term care visitors and mass social gatherings. “We know that this virus is easily spread person to person, so we recommend limiting visitations and discontinuing any group social activities in long-term care facilities,” he said. Regarding mass gatherings, the MSDH recommends that individuals, communities and organizations take specific steps when determining their safety or the need for cancellation. “Stay informed of the cases in your county and surrounding counties, and maintain social distancing as practical,” said Dobbs. “Our older population and chronically ill individuals should protect themselves by avoiding gatherings of more than 250 people.”
There is no recommendation at this time that schools should close. Complete details of the updated information and guidance are available on the MSDH website. Governor Tate Reeves and Dr. Dobbs have been working closely since the beginning of the outbreak. “With the outbreak of the coronavirus spreading throughout the country and the world, we anticipated it eventually reaching Mississippi and planned ahead. When it comes to the health and safety of Mississippians, we’re not taking any chances,” said Gov. Reeves.
“Thanks to the advance preparation and planning ahead of confirmed cases and Dr. Dobbs’s and Director Michel’s leadership, we are prepared to respond decisively and quickly. Mississippians should not panic — our approach will be calm and steady. We continue to prioritize our effort to protect public health and save lives,” he said. Executive Director of MEMA Greg Michel says MEMA is moving to a Level-One Activation in response to COVID-19. “This is a posturing move to make sure all of our emergency support functions are in place to assist the Mississippi State Department of Health. This activation is not to create panic. We at MEMA are ready to coordinate with our county emergency management agencies and MSDH to ensure there are no unmet needs during the response and recovery from COVID-19,” he said.
New MSDH COVID-19 Reporting Requirements for Hospitals. View here.
New MSDH COVID-19 Reporting Requirements for Nursing Homes. View here.
COVID-19 Health Alert: Postpone Elective Medical Procedures and NonEssential Medical Visits. View here.
COVID-19 Health Alert Update. View here.
Recommendations for Immediate Home Isolation for Individuals Tested for COVID-19. View here.
Instructions for Individuals Being Tested for COVID-19. View here.