Lab Matters Summer 2020 | Page 30

PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE Laboratory Biosafety: Lessons Learned From COVID-19 By Michael Marsico, MS, senior specialist, Biosafety and Biosecurity The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 and its resulting coronavirus disease (COVID- 19) present new risks and challenges for laboratory staff. During the COVID-19 pandemic response, public health and clinical laboratories need to ensure they are performing quality testing safely and securely. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Nicole Green, laboratory director We have reached out to high-volume clinical, reference and academic clinical laboratories within our jurisdiction that are performing SARS-CoV-2 testing. Information regarding personal protective equipment (PPE), risk assessments, sample transport and handling, and safety competency was shared as they transitioned from using the public health laboratory to performing in-house testing. Our laboratory also hosted peer-to-peer visits for smaller clinical laboratories to show them workflow including pre-analytical, analytical, and postanalytical processes with an emphasis on staff safety during specimen processing. The laboratories at Huntington Memorial Hospital and Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California were implementing various EUA-approved assays such as Abbott ID Now COVID- 19, Biofire FilmArray SARS-COV2, Biofire FilmArray RP 2.1, Cepheid SARS-COV2, Qiagen Qiastat, CDC 2019 novel coronavirus PCR, and Roche Cobas SARS-COV2. Using resources provided by our laboratory and APHL, they were able to implement safety procedures for a variety of processes, including: • Using bio-transport specimen containers for transporting specimens • Decontaminating specimens upon arrival to the laboratory • Using double gloves with the outer glove being a different color • Wearing a N95 respirator while processing specimens • Donning a face shield and waterresistant, closed front gown over the regular lab coat in the coronavirus testing lab areas • Working within a biosafety cabinet when processing samples. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Laboratories Carrie Anglewicz, biosafety officer and laboratory outreach Michigan’s lesson learned from this pandemic is that education is key to reducing mistaken perceptions. The laboratory safety team learned that some of our non-infectious disease laboratorians were concerned about their safety with SARS-CoV-2 testing in the building. The team quickly realized that transparency in our processes could increase the comfort level in individuals not directly involved with SARS-CoV-2 testing by explaining the safety controls in place to protect everyone. Early in the pandemic, informational sessions were held for building staff to ask questions regarding COVID-19 and our testing processes. The methodology behind the testing, safety practices such as risk assessments, PPE and building engineering controls, were explained to create a better understanding among all laboratorians. Oregon State Public Health Laboratory Robert Nickla, RBP, laboratory response network coordinator Personnel from the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory (OSPHL) have been serving in various roles on the Oregon COVID-19 Incident Management Team (IMT), including participation in the IMT Lab Testing Branch, Logistics and the Safety Officer Team to assist with the development of laboratory and safety-related communications and documents. Early in the response, OSPHL was able to contribute biosafety subject matter expertise to statewide Incident Command System plans such as HERA (Hazard Exposure Risk Assessment) and HASP (Health and Safety Plan), as well as providing input for other related documents such as large-scale specimen collection and transport guidance. OSPHL personnel continue to help the state IMT with technical biosafety and laboratoryrelated input for drafting health alert messages, reviewing laboratory and PPE supplies for statewide purchasing that will be further distributed to county 28 LAB MATTERS Summer 2020 PublicHealthLabs @APHL