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COVID-19 pandemic: NIH website pulls together online training resources for frontline workers

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Washington — The National Institutes of Health has launched a website featuring educational resources intended for workers who are at greatest risk of exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a March 23 press release, the worker-based training initiative is aimed at preventing and limiting exposure among hospital employees, emergency first responders and other at-risk workers, and is being administered by NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

As of March 24, the website had 30 training resources from various colleges and universities, as well as other government agencies. Links to NIEHS Worker Training Program resources also are included.

The WTP, which awards grant money for training and development of educational resources, will serve as a clearinghouse, with the objective of growing the number of up-to-the-minute resources available.

Initially, the focus of the initiative is to build a virtual safety training delivery platform with the help of private-sector e-learning companies to allow for rapid delivery of web-based training for high-risk professionals, including emergency medical personnel, firefighters, law enforcement officers and environmental cleanup workers, as well as high-risk employees in custodial service, food processing and delivery, water and sewage treatment, sanitation, and health care facilities.

“These men and women are so dedicated, and as they work so hard to serve and protect the public during this COVID-19 pandemic, I want to make sure they know how to protect their own health, too,” Joseph “Chip” Hughes, chief of the worker education and training branch at NIEHS, said in the release. “We don’t need them getting sick, or taking the virus back to their families or their communities.”

 

This effort was made possible by supplemental appropriation funding of $10 million as part of an $8.3 billion federal emergency funding package included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 18. The law directs federal agencies, such as NIH, to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through their work.

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The illness is reportedly linked to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, China, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. In the United States and its territories, as of March 24, 44,183 people in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands had been diagnosed and 544 had died, the agency states.

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