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June 1st 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 Tues., June 1st due to Memorial Day, 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.

Cross-Sector Updates

Vaccination Update

Late last week, the State issued guidance emphasizing the importance of accurately submitting all vaccination data in the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) and Citywide Immunization Registry (CIR) to enable interoperability with the State’s Excelsior Pass app. All vaccinators are also required by Executive Order (EO) to report influenza and COVID-19 vaccination data to the systems within 24 hours of administration. All State providers are encouraged to register in NYSIIS and CIR to ensure timely and accurate reporting in the system. Long term care facilities partnering with pharmacies must allow the enrolled vaccinator administering the vaccine to report the data. However, for staff or residents who have received vaccinations out of state, an enrolled facility may update this information in NYSIIS. The guidance offers training in NYSIIS and CIR, more details on utilizing electronic health records with NYSIIS, as well as a NYSIIS connection to qualified entities (Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs)) participating in the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY).

The State also issued multiple updated vaccination guidance documents relating to transport and storage of the vaccine as well as more guidance on ordering vaccine supply. Members are encouraged to review these documents on the State Vaccination Program website here.

NYC DOHMH to Hold COVID-19 Update Webinar for NYC Health Care Providers on June 4th

LeadingAge NY members are invited to join the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH) for a webinar providing updates on the COVID-19 emergency on Fri., June 4th from 1 to 2 p.m. Click here for more information and here to register. Recordings and slides from previous NYC DOHMH webinars can also be accessed here.

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

LeadingAge NY Raises Concerns with Public Health and Health Planning Council

LeadingAge NY submitted comments this week on COVID-19-related regulations that will be discussed at the June 3rd meetings of the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) and its Committee on Codes and Regulations. The PHHPC will be discussing a variety of regulations pertaining to COVID-19 response that were promulgated on an emergency basis and will ultimately have to be formally adopted by the PHHPC at the conclusion of the public health emergency. LeadingAge NY’s comments focus on the regulations governing the personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile required of nursing homes and the regulations requiring nursing homes and ACFs to offer staff and residents an opportunity to be vaccinated within 14 days of hiring or admission. In addition to commenting on the regulations, LeadingAge NY asked the PHHPC to examine the discrepancies between Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Department of Health (DOH) guidance related to visitation, social distancing, and serial staff testing. With widespread vaccination among residents of nursing homes and ACFs, LeadingAge NY is asking the State to align with CMS and allow residents and staff to experience the benefits of vaccination, like their peers in other settings.

DOH Issues Q&A on Antigen Tests

DOH has issued a question and answer document entitled SARS-CoV-2 Point of Care (POC) Antigen Tests Frequently Asked Questions for Health Care Providers, dated May 13th. While not specifically directed to LeadingAge NY members, there is a section specific to nursing homes and ACFs. The information is not new but is a comprehensive resource addressing questions regarding testing, obtaining a limited laboratory license, reporting, specimen collection, use of POC tests for employee screening, etc. Click here to view the document.

Test Positivity and Vaccination 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. For the second week in a row, only a single county (Lewis) had a test positivity rate above 5 percent. The county positivity data posted by CMS are lagged by a week and are updated each Monday or Tuesday. They are available for download in raw format here. LeadingAge NY extracts the CMS-calculated rates for New York State counties and posts them here, along with positivity rates calculated on state data covering the same two-week period.

Current daily county-level data for New York State are here, 7- and 14-day regional data are here, and ZIP code-level data for NYC showing infection rates during the most recent four weeks are available here. The State’s regional COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard showing new infections, severity of infections, and hospitalization data is available here.

DOH posts daily COVID-19 vaccination rates for staff and residents of both nursing homes and assisted living facilities on their website. The site shows county and regional average vaccination rates and contains links to provider-specific listings. Statewide rates did not change from last week, with the statewide nursing home staff vaccination rate remaining at 61 percent. The ACF staff vaccination rate remained at 69 percent, with 94 percent of residents vaccinated. The nursing home resident vaccination rate was 85 percent. The rates are based on daily Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) reporting and can be accessed here.

Vaccination Status Reporting Through NHSN Now Required

Nursing homes are now required to report COVID-19 vaccination status for residents and staff on a weekly basis through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Providers must indicate how many of their total workers and residents received vaccine (by dose and type), for how many the vaccine was medically contraindicated, and whether the facility has sufficient access to vaccine to offer it to staff during the reporting week. Vaccination status must be listed for all staff and residents, whether they received their vaccination at the facility or elsewhere.

Data must be reported for any health care personnel (employee, contractor, student, trainee) who were eligible to have worked at least one day during the reporting week and for any resident who was in the facility for at least one 24-hour day during the week. Detailed reporting instructions and the list of reporting items are posted here in the “Data Collection Forms and Instructions” section. A recording of the educational session recently provided by the CDC is available here. Links to the training presentation slides as well as a helpful set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are available on the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination site.

Providers must submit data during the reporting week ending June 13th to avoid a deficiency citation and penalties. Reporting weeks run from Monday through Sunday, and providers may submit the data on the day of their choice, as long as it is done at least once during each Monday through Sunday week. Reporting of COVID-19 therapeutics administered to residents for treatment of COVID-19 is also now mandatory. Instructions for that pathway are on the main LTCF COVID-19 Module page under “Therapeutics.”

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Updates

DOH Develops Spending Plan for Enhanced HCBS FMAP Funds

DOH held a series of meetings with the various associations last week to discuss the allocation and uses of the 10 percentage point increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for HCBS enacted as part of the American Rescue Plan. Click here for more information.