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Feb. 23rd 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 Feb. 22nd, 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.

Nursing Home Updates

State Issues New Nursing Home Visitation Guidance

New nursing home visitation guidance was posted to the Governor’s website on Feb. 22nd and distributed by the Department of Health (DOH) with minor revisions on Feb. 23rd. As of the time of this writing, there is no new visitation guidance for adult care facilities (ACFs). The new nursing home guidance takes effect Feb. 26th. Click here for more information.

State and City Move Forward With Vaccine Programs Post-Pharmacy Partnership

DOH provided nursing homes with an overview of the enrollment process for the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Provider Program during a webinar held on Feb. 17th. Click here for more information on the webinar, as well as information about vaccine partnerships under development between local health departments (LHDs) and long term care facilities and a Feb. 23rd webinar on COVID-19 vaccines for New York City (NYC) nursing homes post-federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care program.

NHSN Reporting for Nursing Homes

We remind nursing home members that homes are required to continue to submit data at least weekly through the surveillance pathways of the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) COVID-19 Module. The requirement to submit data at least weekly covers the following “pathways”:

  • Resident Impact and Facility Capacity
  • Staff and Personnel Impact
  • Supplies and Personal Protective Equipment
  • Ventilator Capacity and Supplies
  • Therapeutics (i.e., Monoclonal Antigen Therapy)

The document that outlines the mandatory reporting requirement is available here. Because the Therapeutics module was added to the same section, we believe that it is mandatory as well. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) memo (QSO-20-29-NH) that outlines the regulatory reporting requirements and penalties is available here. Complete LTC COVID-19 Module information and instructions are here.

Please note that reporting point of care test results through NHSN is now optional. While mandatory when first implemented, this has changed, and there is no longer a federal requirement for nursing homes to report antigen test results to NHSN. However, New York requires this reporting to the State that in some cases can be accomplished by reporting to NHSN. In New York State, nursing homes that use antigen tests are required to report the results to the State through DOH’s Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS). However, if a nursing home prefers, it can request permission to report through NHSN instead of ECLRS. Providers can do that by contacting ECLRS and verifying that they are receiving the data from NHSN.

The reporting of COVID-19 vaccination data through NHSN is also optional. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages use of this reporting functionality, but it is not mandated by CMS. (Vaccination module is here.)

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 test positivity rates continue to trend lower, although a number of counties remain above 5 percent. Nursing homes across the state are still required to test staff twice per week, and updated visitation guidance dated Feb. 23rd requires nursing homes to consult the federal positivity rates to guide the approach to visitor testing. Homes in counties where the positivity rate is below 5 percent are encouraged but not required to test visitors. Homes in counties where positivity rates are between 5 and 10 percent are required to have visitors present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours or be administered a rapid test on site. For homes located in counties where positivity rates exceed 10 percent, visitation is limited to compassionate care.

Current daily county-level data for New York State are here, and ZIP code-level data for NYC 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 links to updated cluster maps and the address look-up tool are here.

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Updates

HCBS Vaccination Update

The latest vaccination updates for HCBS providers – including information on new Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) vaccine questions for certified home health agencies (CHHAs) and hospices, a statewide home care vaccination survey conducted by LeadingAge NY and our association colleagues, and home care worker vaccine information sessions being conducted this week by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) – are summarized here.