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Dec. 21st 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 Dec. 20th, 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

Omicron Update and Reminders on Travel, Return to Work, and Masking in ACFs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued an update on What You Need to Know regarding the Omicron variant. Click here for a summary of the latest information regarding the incidence of Omicron throughout the country. Vaccination, including boosters; masking; and testing remain our greatest tools in fighting COVID-19 and protecting residents and staff. In addition, if you missed the LeadingAge National Town Hall on Omicron on Dec. 21st featuring Admiral Rachel Levine, MD, it will be recorded and made available here.

Given the increase in COVID-19 cases we are seeing, we also wanted to provide a reminder regarding the current travel guidance. New York is now following CDC guidance.

CDC return to work guidance for health care settings after a COVID-19 exposure or positive can be found here.

The most recent adult care facility (ACF) guidance regarding visitation and communal activities is from July and can be accessed here. The Department of Health (DOH) did confirm that while ACF personnel and visitors are directly addressed in the Health Commissioner’s Determination on masking in indoor public places, consistent with the Determination more broadly, masks must be worn by anyone in a common area within an ACF, including residents, unless they are not medically able to tolerate a mask.

CDC Expresses Preference for mRNA Primary and Booster COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

On Dec. 16th, the CDC issued a recommendation stating that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (i.e., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines) are preferred over the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 for all people age 18 years and older. This recommendation is for both primary series and booster doses. Click here for more information.

Nursing Home and ACF/Assisted Living Updates

LeadingAge NY Hosts Monoclonal Antibody Therapy Webinar

On Dec. 21st, LeadingAge NY hosted a webinar on monoclonal antibody therapy in long term care facilities. The presenters were Dr. Dallas Nelson, president of the New York Medical Directors Association and medical director of the University of Rochester Medicine Geriatrics Group, and Nicole Halsey, RN. This potentially lifesaving therapy can be used both for treatment of COVID-19 and prophylaxis in response to exposures. The webinar covered the appropriate candidates for monoclonal antibody therapy, the various therapies available, the administration routes and processes, monitoring and side effects, and billing codes. The slides are available here, and the recording is here.

A monoclonal antibody therapy clinical decision support tool developed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) is available here.

New DOH Prioritization Guidance on Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

On Dec. 20th, DOH issued new guidance providing a framework for providers to identify individuals at highest risk for severe COVID-19 who might derive the most benefit from treatment or post-exposure prophylaxis with monoclonal antibody therapy. Click here to review the document.

DOH, IPRO Hold Educational Webinar on Vaccinations and Immunizations for Nursing Homes and ACFs

On Dec. 21st, DOH and the IPRO Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) hosted an educational webinar on vaccinations and immunizations for nursing homes and ACFs. Click here for more information, including links to the webinar slides and recording.

New Study Links Higher Nursing Home Staff Vaccination Rates to Fewer Resident Cases, Deaths

A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates the extent to which staff vaccination against COVID-19 protects nursing home residents, particularly in communities with high levels of transmission. According to the study, in counties with a high prevalence of COVID-19, facilities with the lowest staff vaccination rates had more than twice as many resident cases and nearly three times as many resident deaths as facilities with the highest staff vaccination rates. This disparity held true even when controlling for resident vaccination rates, previous resident and staff infection rates, facility characteristics, and county. Click here for more details on the study.

Free COVID-19 Testing Program for NYC ACFs and Nursing Homes

NYC nursing home and ACF members are reminded that NYC DOHMH has made available a free COVID-19 testing program for providers located within NYC. The testing is available for residents and staff. Below is information about each of the programs, what is involved, and how to access the resources. Please note that the program for ACFs differs slightly from the nursing home program, and it has been recently updated. Notably, the Agency Chief Contracting Officer (ACCO) has approved to add combination testing for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza to the program.

Members are encouraged to enroll now, even if you do not have an immediate need, to ensure quick access if the resource is needed in the future.