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Feb. 9th 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 Feb. 8th, is available here. If you have questions for next week’s update, which will be held on Tues., Feb. 16th at 11 a.m. due to Presidents’ Day, please send them to Ami Schnauber, and be sure to check your email for the access information, or contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

Update on Work Exclusion Rules for Staff with Repeat Positives

The Department of Health (DOH) has updated its advice on work exclusion of health care personnel who experience persistent or repeated positive COVID-19 test results within 90 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis. Click here for more information.

Some Third Vaccine Clinics Won’t Give First Doses

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) previously indicated that Walgreens and CVS would be moving forward with allowing staff to receive first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in third clinics delivered through the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care program, some states, including New York, are not recommending the practice. Please see LeadingAge National’s new article and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the subject here and here.

Persons with Comorbidities and Underlying Conditions Added to Vaccine Eligibility List

The State has announced that individuals with comorbidities and underlying health conditions will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination starting Feb. 15th. While most staff and residents are already eligible, this may help with vaccination of some of the younger patients of home and community-based services (HCBS) providers receiving care and services in the community. Click here for more information.

Influenza and COVID-19 Vaccinations Must Be Reported Within 24 Hours

Members are reminded that an Executive Order issued on Dec. 13th requires all providers vaccinating any child or adult with the influenza or COVID-19 vaccine to report such vaccination in the statewide and New York City immunization reporting systems, the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) and Citywide Immunization Registry (CIR), within 24 hours of administration. Click here for more information.

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

Update to Nursing Home HERDS Survey

DOH is planning an update to the Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) survey for nursing homes only on Feb. 10th that will include some new questions regarding vaccination status and will eliminate some questions. The Department is also setting up a mechanism for the morning of Wed., Feb. 10th to get questions answered by DOH staff in real time before the survey is due at 1 p.m. Nursing homes should look for an Integrated Health Alerting and Notification System (IHANS) notice this evening, Feb. 9th, for more information.

DOH Clarifies Guidance on Nursing Home Visits by Health Care Providers and Consultants

DOH clarified its position on visits by non-essential consultants and health care providers in recent emails to LeadingAge NY. Based on these communications, we believe that facilities may allow routine, preventive, and non-urgent visits by medical, dental, podiatric, and other health care providers, even if the facility is not open for visitation, subject to testing and screening requirements. In addition, DOH has indicated that non-essential consultants may enter facilities that are not open for visitation, subject to the same requirements. Click here for more information.

What’s the Plan Post-Federal Vaccination Program?

LeadingAge NY has been advocating for several weeks now with DOH and the Governor’s Office to provide a plan for nursing homes and ACFs to obtain vaccination for their staff and residents after the conclusion of the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care program. Click here for the latest information on that process.

Nursing Home NHSN Reporting Updates

On Feb. 5th, the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) issued information outlining some updates and additions being made to long term care (LTC) provider reporting modules. Some of these changes are optional, but two are updates to COVID-19 required reporting.

The largest change is the addition of functionality allowing LTC providers to report staff and resident COVID-19 vaccination counts to NHSN. While the CDC encourages LTC providers to report, this reporting is optional. Instructions, reporting forms, a data tracking worksheet, and training slides are available here. The functionality is similar to that of NHSN influenza reporting, which LTC facilities can use to help monitor influenza vaccination coverage (information here). The NHSN COVID-19 and influenza vaccination modules are optional for LTC providers. However, please keep in mind requirements (described here) for providers to report influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations to New York State.

One change to the mandatory COVID-19 surveillance reporting pathways includes the addition of a new section for providers to report weekly usage and inventory of monoclonal antibody treatments. The CDC also updated the Resident Impact and Facility Capacity Pathway form and instructions to collect the vaccination status of any new positive residents. The forms and instructions for the mandatory pathways are available 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 have decreased noticeably in recent weeks, with only two counties in the state (Orange and Hamilton) exceeding 10 percent based on federal data. Nursing homes across the state are still required to test staff twice per week, and members should keep in mind the federal requirement that 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 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 links to updated cluster maps and the address look-up tool are here.