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Jan. 10th 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 Jan. 9th, 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, which will be held on Tues., Jan. 17th at 11 a.m. due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, or would like the access information, please contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

COVID-19 Rapid Test Kits Available for All LeadingAge Provider Settings and Communities

LeadingAge National has partnered with the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to launch an opportunity for all aging services providers to order free COVID-19 rapid test kits through its website.

All aging services providers in all care settings and communities can now easily sign up to receive free COVID-19 rapid test kits weekly through the site. Click here to submit your requests.

Members should note that LeadingAge National submits the orders to HHS on Thursdays, so please order by Wednesday at the latest. There are two separate survey tools to take orders: one for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 202 programs and then another for all other long term care providers. Test kits are delivered within seven to 10 days. If you have any questions, please submit them to info@leadingage.org.

County-Level COVID-19 Prevalence

With the presence of the more transmissible XBB.1.5 strain of COVID-19 in the state, we want to remind members of the links to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) county-level COVID-19 data. While statewide infection figures are trending upwardly fairly modestly so far this month, January 2021 and especially January 2022 saw large spikes in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. Daily hospital admissions are averaging about 530 statewide after varying between 200 and 400 during most of 2022. They reached nearly 2,000 per day during last January’s surge and roughly 1,200 per day during the January 2021 surge. Statewide COVID-19 testing positivity rates are currently close to 20 percent. They fluctuated mostly between 10 and 15 percent during 2022.

These statewide rates obscure county rates, which are important to track. Members will recall that there are two CDC county COVID-19 measurement approaches. Community Transmission Rates are used for health care facilities and feature a four-color scale. Forty-five counties had high transmission rates at the start of the week. The other county COVID-19 prevalence measurement approach used by the CDC, Community Levels, is for non-health care settings and uses red, yellow, and green coding. The CDC recommends that those in counties with high Community Levels use precautions including indoor masking. The State does not require that areas with high Community Levels implement mask mandates, but county and local governments may do so. At the start of the week, there were 15 counties with high Community Levels. Community Levels are used for non-health care settings like schools and public indoor spaces, so they have no impact on the health care facility masking requirements that remain in place.

Community Transmission Rates focus on the presence and spread of the virus. Community Levels refer to the measures of the impact of COVID-19 in terms of hospitalizations and health care system strain, while also accounting for transmission in the community.

Nursing Home Updates

CMS Focused on COVID-19 Vaccination

On Jan. 5th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) held a National Nursing Home Stakeholder Call dedicated to COVID-19 vaccination and treatment during the winter season. Click here for some of the highlights.