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Dec. 1st 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 described 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 Nov. 30th, 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

DOH Issues Guidance on Universal Use of Eye Protection

The Department of Health (DOH) issued a health advisory on Fri., Nov. 27th (despite the Nov. 24th date of the advisory) recommending universal use of eye protection by health care personnel for all patient interactions, in addition to face masks. The advisory is addressed to nursing home, adult care facility (ACF), home care, and all other health care providers. The Department recognizes that personal protective equipment (PPE) supply shortages might prevent universal use of eye protection in all health care encounters. In this situation, the shortage should be documented, and eye protection should be reserved for and considered required for certain priority circumstances outlined in the advisory. Lastly, the advisory provides information regarding extended use and cleaning and disinfection of eye protection as a contingency strategy for PPE conservation. Click here to view the advisory.

LeadingAge National Releases Pandemic Playbook

LeadingAge National has released a pandemic playbook to provide a comprehensive array of resources to help long term care and senior services providers mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and future pandemics. The playbook compiles research, guidance, and best practices from a variety of government, professional, and scientific sources on topics ranging from crisis intervention, infection control, clinical management, financial strategies, and communication to workforce and wellness.

Nursing Home and ACF/Assisted Living Updates

Testing After Emergency Room Visit and End-of-Life Visitation with COVID-Positive Resident

Recently, members have been inquiring regarding whether residents of ACFs and nursing homes require a COVID-19 test after an Emergency Room visit. Questions have also come up regarding end-of-life visits with COVID-19-positive residents. Click here for more information regarding DOH guidance on these matters.

DOH Issues Additional Guidance on Holidays and Resident Outings

On Nov. 25th, DOH issued additional guidance to supplement its Holiday Guidance for ACFs and Nursing Homes issued on Nov. 24th. The new guidance notes options for residents to get tested, including facility-conducted rapid tests if the facility wants to offer that and has a Limited Service Laboratory (LSL) registration. Facilities with limited supplies of rapid tests should notify the Department at Covid19rapidtest@health.ny.gov, and the Department will attempt to provide supplies to the facility. Facilities using other antigen tests should be aware that only BinaxNOW supplies are available to send to facilities at this time.

The guidance stresses the education of families regarding the Department’s requirements and the options for testing available to them, including if the facility is unable to provide the testing. Members are encouraged to read the guidance carefully if they have not already, as it applies throughout the holiday season.

The Department reminds that facilities that cannot care for a resident are always prohibited from accepting a resident and if they are unable to provide such care must call the Department at 1-866-881-2809.

DOH Offers eFINDS Training and COVID-19 Educational Resources

DOH has issued the December 2020 Aware Prepare, which is a guide to upcoming trainings related to preparedness, readiness, and response. There are a variety of resources that may be of interest to members, including training on the older adult and the emotional impact of infection control measures, infection prevention and control, COVID-19 vaccination implementation, best practices for facilities management during public health emergencies, and more COVID-19 content. In addition, you will also find other emergency preparedness resources, including Evacuation of Facilities in Disasters System (eFINDS) training. Click here to access.

DOH Holds Pandemic and Infection Control Webinar for Nursing Homes

On Nov. 30th, DOH held a webinar for nursing homes covering a wide range of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and infection control. Click here for more information.

Remainder of September QIP Payments Issued

On Nov. 30th, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) distributed the remaining Provider Relief Fund Nursing Home Infection Control Quality Incentive Program (QIP) payments related to the September performance period. The program relies on both infection and mortality rate calculations to allocate funding. The infection rate portion of the funding was distributed on Nov. 2nd; this week’s payment was based on mortality calculations. The payment for the October performance period is expected to be made in the next two weeks and should combine both calculations into a single distribution.

Local Positivity Rates

The most recent listing of 14-day testing positivity rates for each county in New York State from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is available here. As of this week, Allegany County is the only county above the 10 percent CMS threshold, although CMS-reported rates were above 5 percent in 20 counties. Current daily county-level data for New York State are here, and ZIP code-level data for New York City showing infection rates during the most recent four weeks are available here. Metrics related to the State’s micro-cluster initiative are available here, and an address look-up tool is here.

Long Term Care Providers Undergoing OSHA Inspections

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been conducting inspections of nursing homes and assisted living facilities in New York State, and a common citation is a violation of the respiratory protection standard. OSHA published respiratory protection guidance last month targeted at long term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance notes that “[w]henever respirators are required, employers must implement a written, worksite-specific respiratory protection program (RPP), including medical evaluation, fit testing, training, and other elements, as specified in OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard.” Although OSHA has temporarily allowed for some enforcement flexibility regarding respirators, in order for OSHA to exercise enforcement discretion, employers must demonstrate and document good-faith efforts to comply with OSHA standards, as described in various OSHA guidance documents.

Affordable Housing/Independent Living Updates

EO 202.78 Extends Eviction Protections for Residential Tenants

On Nov. 27th, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order (EO) 202.78 to extend the modifications made to the Tenant Safe Harbor Act in EOs 202.66 and 202.71. The purpose of these EOs was to continue to prevent the execution or enforcement of warrants or judgments of eviction for residential tenants suffering financial hardship during the COVID-19 state disaster emergency through Jan. 1, 2021. The bar on the execution or enforcement of these warrants or judgments includes those cases where such warrant or judgment was granted prior to March 7, 2020.