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Dec. 28th 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 Dec. 27th, 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

DOH and CDC Issue Return to Work Guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health (DOH) updated and issued guidance on Dec. 23rd and 24th, respectively, reducing the time that personnel must be excluded from work as a result of a COVID-19 infection or exposure. The state and federal guidance differ in scope and approach. Click here for more information.

CDC Updates Isolation Recommendations for General Public

In line with other updates, the CDC has revised its recommendations for self-isolation and quarantine for the general public that may have been exposed to COVID-19. The CDC is shortening the recommended isolation time for asymptomatic individuals who test positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five days, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. Boosted or recently vaccinated individuals who are exposed to COVID-19 should wear a mask around others for 10 days and test for COVID-19 on day five. Unvaccinated or un-boosted individuals who have not been recently immunized (more than six months ago for Pfizer or Moderna, more than two months ago for Johnson & Johnson (J&J)) should remain home for five days, wear a mask for an additional five days, and test on day five.

The changes are driven by evidence that indicates that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the one to two days prior to onset of symptoms and the two to three days after. The full general public document is available here. Please note that the guidance that applies to health care workers and other critical workforce members is covered in a separate Intelligence article here.

Vaccination Update

The latest vaccination information, including updates on new State vaccination guidance, the enforcement status of federal vaccine mandates, and vaccination support for New York City (NYC) long term care facilities, is summarized here.

EO on Staffing Shortages Extended; New EO Provides for Virtual Legislative Session and Additional Testing Capacity

On Dec. 26th, Governor Hochul issued Executive Order (EO) 4.3 extending the multiple staffing flexibilities provided by EOs 4, 4.1, and 4.2 through Jan. 26, 2022. Members can learn more about these flexibilities in previous Intelligence articles here.

The Governor also issued EO 11 over the holiday, providing the Legislature with the ability to work virtually at their discretion. The order also allows health care providers, including long term care facilities, to contract with a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA)-certified lab that is not licensed in New York State. This may be helpful if current labs are not providing prompt results. The Governor’s press release states: “Amid an increased demand for testing, Governor Hochul’s Order will permit certified clinical laboratories to use out-of-state facilities for New Yorkers’ COVID-19 testing to mitigate testing capacity issues.”

Provider Relief Reporting Deadlines

On Dec. 16th, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), began distributing Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 4 General Distribution payments to health care providers who experienced revenue losses and expenses related to COVID-19. Click here for more information, including a review of upcoming reporting requirements and deadlines.

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

CMS Issues Nursing Home Visitation FAQs

On Dec. 23rd, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) surrounding nursing home visitation. The document provides additional details about certain scenarios that nursing home leaders continue to have questions about. Click here for more information.

Nursing Homes Are Reminded About Resident, Family, and Representative Notification Requirements

Nursing home members are reminded that to ensure that you are not cited under 42 CFR § 483.80 – Infection control, your facility is required to:

  • Inform residents, their representatives, and families of those residing in facilities by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the occurrence of either a single confirmed infection of COVID-19, or three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occurring within 72 hours of each other. This information must:
    • Not include personally identifiable information;
    • Include information on mitigating actions implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including if normal operations of the facility will be altered; and
    • Include any cumulative updates for residents, their representatives, and families at least weekly or by 5 p.m. the next calendar day following the subsequent occurrence of either: each time a confirmed infection of COVID-19 is identified, or whenever three or more residents or staff with new onset of respiratory symptoms occur within 72 hours of each other.

The full CMS QSO 20-29-NH is linked here.

FDA Approves New Pill Form Antivirals for COVID-19

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for two pill form antivirals for COVID-19, providing some additional tools to long term care providers to care for residents and patients with COVID-19. The pills can be taken at home, unlike monoclonal antibodies that have to be administered by infusion in a clinical setting. Click here for more information.

Abbott BinaxNOW Expiration Dates List

Linked here for member reference is the list of Abbott BinaxNOW rapid test expiration dates by LOT number from the Abbott website. The expiration dates have been extended up to 12 months. LeadingAge NY will keep members informed of any updates we receive on this important topic.

LeadingAge NY Continues to Press for ACF/AL COVID-19 Relief

Throughout the year, LeadingAge NY has been working in partnership with other associations to push for $75 million in COVID-19 relief for all ACF and assisted living providers. We have received support for this ask from many key leaders in the Legislature, and a sign-on letter in the Senate was sent to DOH and the Governor’s Office. Additionally, Assemblymember and Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried sent a letter to the Governor and the Commissioner of Health in support of this request. With the New York State budget process upon us, we are again meeting with key members of the Legislature, the Division of the Budget (DOB), and the Governor’s Office to urge them to include funding for ACFs and assisted living in the budget process. Members should continue to raise this issue in any conversations you have with your representatives.