Mac’s Safety Space: Public health emergency—over & (probably not) out

By Steve MacArthur, Hospital Safety Consultant

This one should be relatively brief, but I think we’ve all learned over time that my version of brevity can be all but…

As we rapidly approach May 11 and the official termination of the Public Health Emergency relating to COVID-19, I realized that I’ve been “sitting” on some COVID stuff that I wanted to get to you folks before it became too long in the tooth (so to speak—other than risk assessment stuff, there don’t seem to be as many “evergreen” topics as there used to be). The world’s response over the last three years or so is likely going to inform the management of a lot of things beyond “emerging infectious diseases,” particularly as a function of, but not limited to, occupational exposures.

I keep seeing little news items of COVID cases bubbling up in various locations around the globe (actually, not just around the globe, but closer to home:  — overall, the numbers are trending down, but moderate to high transmission rates are occurring in about 50% of the counties in the US). So it seems likely that our response protocols vis-à-vis COVID are already shifting into chronic versus emergent strategies. I’m sure there are learned studies regarding the flu epidemic of last century and the actual recovery time (this usually happens before events take on the rosy hue of nostalgia—but I digress).

One of the other numbers of note on the CDC COVID page is that fewer than 20% (as of this writing, it’s a shade under 17%) of the eligible folks in the US have updated boosters, which means that there’s still meaningful direction to be gleaned from the general infection control recommendations updated last Fall ( ). Whether we like it or not, there is still cause for the use of N-95 respirators to be used, as well as face/eye protection.

I absolutely understand that there’s probably a fair amount of fed-up-edness when it comes to PPE, but occupational safety is still going to be a strong influencer, particularly as OSHA moves ever closer to the establish of a final COVID rule as well as the management of occupational exposure to emerging infectious diseases (not to mention workplace violence, but that’s for another day): .

That’s a lot of stuff to consider/manage, but the slate of regulatory razzamatazz seems to be growing larger by the moment. More to come, no doubt…

About the Author: Steve MacArthur is a safety consultant with Chartis Clinical Quality Solutions (formerly known as The Greeley Company) in Danvers, Mass. He brings more than 30 years of healthcare management and consulting experience to his work with hospitals, physician offices, and ambulatory care facilities across the country. He is the author of HCPro's Hospital Safety Director's Handbook and is contributing editor for Healthcare Safety Leader. Contact Steve at