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April 13th COVID-19 Update

New updates pertaining to the COVID-19 emergency continue to be announced by both the state and federal government on a regular basis. The latest developments for providers of long-term/post-acute care (LTPAC) and senior services are outlined below.

As a reminder, LeadingAge NY continues to convene weekly webinars on Mondays at 11 a.m. to address emerging questions on COVID-19. A recording of our most recent webinar, held on April 12th, is available here. If you have questions for next week’s update, please send them to Ami Schnauber, and be sure to check your email for the access information, or contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

New York Updates Travel-Related Quarantine Requirements

The Department of Health (DOH) released a new Travel Advisory on April 10th that relaxes travel-related quarantine and testing requirements for fully vaccinated travelers and those who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months. However, the new guidance imposes new, more stringent quarantine requirements on health care personnel (HCP) in nursing homes, enhanced assisted living residences (EALRs), and assisted living programs (ALPs) who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered from COVID-19. Click here for more information.

Vaccination Update

The latest vaccination information, including details on data discrepancies in the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) and the pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, is summarized here.

EO 202.101 Issued

Last week, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order (EO) 202.101 extending all EO 202 provisions, including all compliance, notification, and reporting provisions for long term care facilities regarding COVID-19, as well as flexibilities for telehealth, utilization of out-of-state HCP, and more. The order extends these provisions to May 6th. Members can view various EO 202 and 205 (travel) provisions in Excel format on the Governor’s website here.

BinaxNOW Test Expiration Update

Several members have reported receiving BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card tests that have a fast-approaching expiration date. LeadingAge NY has reached out to DOH to determine if there is a way to obtain tests that have a longer shelf life in the event that you are unable to use them before their expiration date. Members should note, however, that Abbott issued this notice reporting that they have extended the expiration date for some test kits by three additional months. The notice provides specific lot numbers to determine if test kits in your possession now have a longer-than-labeled product expiry date.

Nursing Home and Adult Care Facility (ACF)/Assisted Living Updates

Project ECHO Continuation Phase

Project ECHO has announced that it will offer a “continuation phase” of free COVID Action Network trainings for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other providers that serve patients. LeadingAge NY and the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) are considering continuing their partnership to offer the continuation phase, but we need to gauge your interest. Please respond to this one-question survey to let us know if your organization is interested! The second phase will take place weekly in 60-90 minute interactive sessions and will cover issues such as building sustainable infection control practices, vaccine confidence and post-vaccination practices, support for staff, social isolation and family communications, and leadership communication strategies. Unlike the first phase, participating organizations will not receive a stipend for attendance.

CMS Issues Guidance on 1135 Waivers

On April 8th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued memorandum QSO 21-17-NH announcing that several 1135 waivers will end effective May 10th. The waivers had been granted in response to the COVID-19 emergency, and CMS believes that as nursing homes have developed policies and practices, certain waivers are no longer necessary. Click here for more information.

DOH Rescinds Flexibility in Enforcement of ACF Fire Drill Regulations

On April 8th, DOH sent an email rescinding the flexibility in enforcement of ACF fire drill requirements previously announced. As such, ACFs should resume conducting fire drills and ensure that they are in compliance with all regulatory requirements. It should be noted that flexibility remains in place for nursing homes regarding the enforcement of regulations regarding fire drills; see page 29 of CMS’ COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers document. Click here for more information.

Local Positivity Rates

A document showing the most recent 14-day test positivity rates for each county in New York State based on both federal and state figures is available here. The number of counties with test positivity rates above 5 percent based on federal data increased, and the rate in Orange County continued to exceed 10 percent. The requirement for nursing homes across the state to test staff twice weekly remains in effect. The county positivity data posted by CMS are lagged by a week and are updated each Monday or Tuesday. They are available for download in raw format here. LeadingAge NY extracts the CMS-calculated rates for New York State counties and posts them here, along with positivity rates calculated on state data covering the same two-week period.

Current daily county-level data for New York State are here, 7- and 14-day regional data are here, and ZIP code-level data for New York City (NYC) showing infection rates during the most recent four weeks are available here. Effective March 22nd, the final remaining yellow zone clusters in New York State have been lifted. The State’s regional COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard showing new infections, severity of infections, and hospitalization data is available here.

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Updates

NYC DOHMH Roundtable for Home Care Providers

COVID-19 is the largest, most sustained, and most destructive public health emergency in recent times. Home health agencies have been particularly hit because, for one, it is difficult to implement telehealth practices when the scope of care delivery includes activities like feeding and bathing patients. For another, the home and other congregate settings where home health aides work makes them especially prone to being exposed, or to exposing others.

Home care providers are invited to join the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) for a one-hour roundtable session on Thurs., April 15th to discuss these challenges and what public health agencies are doing to help.

Title of session: Keeping home health aides and their patients safe from COVID-19

Date: Thurs., April 15, 2021

Time: 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET

Venue: Webex (Register here)

Objectives of the presentation include:

  1. Review the critical role played by home health aides in patient care
  2. Describe infection prevention and control in home health settings 
  3. Discuss the role of home health agencies in contact tracing and investigations
  4. Summarize key and provide a list of resources for home care agencies

Any questions may be emailed to agakui@nychhc.org.

Affordable Housing/Independent Living Updates

HUD to Host Free Webinar on Vaccine Confidence on April 14th

To help boost COVID-19 vaccine confidence, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is cohosting a free webinar, “Sleeves Up: Strategies for Promoting COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence,” on Wed., April 14th with representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Minority Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Housing Authority of New Orleans, Urban Strategies Inc., Ashé Cultural Arts Center, and La Familia Counseling Center of Sacramento. Click here for more information.

CDC to Host Webinar on COVID Vaccination & Infection Prevention for Retirement and Independent Living Communities

The CDC is hosting a webinar on “COVID Vaccination & Infection Prevention for Retirement and Independent Living Communities” on Mon., April 19th at 12 p.m. Click here for more information.

Please Take the LeadingAge Quarterly Housing Survey!

It’s time for the LeadingAge quarterly affordable housing survey! Please fill out this five-minute pulse check on a number of issues, including insurance rates at affordable housing communities, COVID-19 vaccines, and operational challenges. The information LeadingAge collects helps our advocacy with HUD and Congress, helps us determine the kinds of materials to produce for our housing members, and helps you understand how your peers are doing during the pandemic. Please complete the survey, available here, by Fri., April 23rd.