Weekend Update

From Washington, DC,

  • The Government Accountability Office posted a report on public health preparedness.
    • “Health and Human Services was initially charged with coordinating the federal response to a 2022 global outbreak of mpox—a smallpox-related virus.
    • “State and local jurisdictions cited challenges in the federal response such as difficulty accessing and using vaccines and tests, which may have led to unnecessary suffering. We added HHS’s leadership and coordination of public health emergencies to our High Risk List earlier in 2022 due to similar issues in past responses.
    • “We recommended that HHS adopt a coordinated, department-wide program that incorporates input from external stakeholders to identify and resolve challenges.”
  • FedSmith offers its take on OPM’s benefit administration letter about tightening FEHB eligibility oversight.
    • “OPM will use its newly completed FEHB Master Enrollment Index (MEI) to run queries that can spot certain enrollment irregularities in existing enrollments. If any are found that raise questions, OPM will notify agencies to review those enrollments.”
    • In the FEHBlog’s view, the Master Enrollment Index will not be reliable until OPM starts using the HIPAA 820 electronic enrollment roster transaction which will allow carriers to reconcile individual enrollments with premiums received.

From the public health and medical research front,

  • The Washington Post reports on ongoing efforts to create a global pandemic preparedness accord.
    • “The United States has signaled its support for a legally binding agreement, including leveraging its purchasing power to expand access to medicines around the world. But the United States, like many European Union countries, is the object of mistrust because it is the seat of the powerful pharmaceutical industry, which is reluctant to relax control over manufacturing know-how.”
  • Fortune Well discusses how to keep your water bottle clean.
    • “Like many people, Carl Behnke regularly totes a water bottle around throughout his day. From the office to the gym and back home again, Behnke is rarely without it. But Behnke is also an associate professor in the school of hospitality and tourism management at Purdue University, and when he discovered a “biofilm” on the inside of his water bottle while cleaning it, it got his wheels turning. “I realized I probably wasn’t as diligent about cleaning my water bottle as I should be,” he explains. “And that made me curious: if someone who knows about food safety isn’t diligent, what about everyone else?”
    • “That question led to a study, conducted by Behnke and a cohort of academics and scientists into how reusable bottle contamination levels are affected by usage and cleaning behaviors. The group set about to measure contamination levels of water bottles, and to understand how those levels are affected by usage and cleaning behaviors. If you’re regularly drinking water from a reusable bottle, their findings might prompt you to reconsider your own water bottle handling practices.  * * *
    • “Dr. Yuriko Fukuta, assistant professor of medicine—infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, agrees. “We’re constantly touching our water bottles with our mouths and hands, so it’s easy to transmit bacteria to them, and then it just grows,” she says “In some cases, this can make you sick, especially if you have a weaker immune system.” * * *
    • According to Fukuta, your best bets are bottles with a wide mouth, which make them easy to clean and dry, those with a built-in straw that keeps your hands away if possible.
    • If your goal is to keep your water bottle from turning into a germy breeding ground, the simplest approach is Behnke’s, which he changed after conducting the research. “I rinse my bottle once a day,” he says, “and wash it once a week, using good detergent, a bottle brush, and a spray of Clorox bleach.”