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April 5th COVID-19 Update

New COVID-19-related updates for providers of long-term/post-acute care (LTPAC) and senior services continue to be shared on a regular basis by both state and federal authorities. The latest developments are discussed 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 4th, is available here, and a list of the items shared by LeadingAge NY staff in the webinar chat can be accessed here. If you have questions for next week’s update or would like the access information, please contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

Health Care Staffing Emergency Extended

Last week, Governor Hochul extended her declaration of a Statewide Disaster Emergency Due to Healthcare Staffing Shortages through April 30th. Her executive order (EO), EO 4.7, extended the previously granted regulatory flexibilities to help health care facilities and agencies to appropriately staff their services, but did not extend the relief from nursing home minimum staffing and spending requirements. Click here for more information.

CDC and FDA Approve Second COVID-19 Boosters

On April 1st, the Department of Health (DOH) issued updated guidance for vaccination providers recognizing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of second COVID-19 boosters. Additions to the guidance are outlined here.

HRSA to Allow Some PRF Reporting Corrections

LeadingAge National staff have been discussing the possibility of allowing providers to submit missed Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reports and/or correct reporting errors related to the first reporting period (reports due by Nov. 30, 2021) with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Providers who made errors in their first PRF report can contact the Provider Support Line at 866-569-3522 and ask to speak with a Tier 2 representative regarding fixing an error in their first reporting period report. While the extent and types of corrections that will be allowed is not fully clear yet, information is expected from HRSA soon on a late reporting opportunity for “non-compliant providers to complete a report as a result of specific extenuating circumstances.” Any provider who received a March Repayment Letter should wait for further information before returning any relief funding pursuant to the letter. Additional information on the late reporting request process will be posted to the PRF website and emailed to providers who are registered in the reporting portal.

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

PHHPC Approves Extension of PPE and COVID-19 Vaccination Access Regulations

On April 5th, the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) approved the extension of regulations requiring nursing homes and hospitals to maintain personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiles and regulations requiring nursing homes and ACFs to provide access to COVID-19 vaccines for residents and staff. Click here for more information.

DOH Updates Certain SARS-CoV-2 Reporting Requirements for Limited Service Labs

Last week, DOH issued a Health Advisory to clinical laboratories and limited service laboratories to provide updates on SARS-CoV-2 laboratory reporting requirements effective April 4th. Of note is the change that clinical laboratories and limited service laboratories performing COVID-19 testing using waived COVID-19 rapid antigen and rapid molecular tests will be required to report positive results. Reporting of negative and inconclusive results will be optional. When reporting is required, results must be reported to the Department within 24 hours of results being known or determined, through the Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS).

The Advisory also provides information regarding the use of at-home tests. LeadingAge NY has submitted questions to DOH regarding the use of at-home tests as they pertain to nursing homes and ACFs with limited service laboratory certificates. We will keep members apprised of any clarifications we receive.

Community Transmission Rates

Health care providers should continue consulting the COVID-19 Community Transmission Rates posted by the CDC (not Community Levels that also appear on CDC sites) to determine frequency of routine staff testing. The link to the color-coded map, which for New York State counties continues to be largely red (high transmission) and orange (substantial transmission), is here. LeadingAge NY also posts the map on a weekly basis here (please refresh browser to see most recent posting).

NHSN Updates Vaccination Status Tracking Resources

Nursing homes continue to report vaccination status of residents and staff on a weekly basis to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). NHSN had developed Excel worksheets that providers could use to collect vaccination information to help prepare for data submission. These optional Excel data tracking worksheets are being replaced by event-level vaccination forms that are built into the Weekly COVID-19 Vaccination Module. As of March 28th, facilities have the option to use these event-level COVID-19 vaccination forms and select “View Reporting Summary & Submit” to submit these data to the Weekly Modules. Weekly vaccination data can also be directly entered using the data entry screens of the COVID-19 Vaccination Modules or imported through .CSV upload.

If you have been using the Excel tool, you can convert to the event-level forms by exporting the data from the Excel worksheet. A set of slides available here describes the event-level forms and provides instructions for importing the data from the Excel tool. A step-by-step guide for using the event-level forms is posted here.