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March 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 March 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.

Cross-Sector Updates

New Law Provides Paid Time Off for COVID-19 Vaccination

Last week, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill requiring employers to provide paid time off for employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The new law amends the Labor Law to provide that every employee be provided a paid leave for a sufficient period of time, not to exceed four hours per vaccine injection, unless such employee shall receive a greater number of hours pursuant to a collectively bargained agreement or as otherwise authorized by the employer. Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against any employee who requests or obtains paid leave pursuant to the legislation.

The entire period of the leave shall be provided at the employee’s regular rate of pay and shall not be charged against any other leave the employee is otherwise entitled to, including sick leave. The bill is effective March 12th and will sunset on Dec. 31, 2022. It is not retroactive for those vaccinated prior to March 12th.

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

Reporting Requirement Updated for Vaccine Tracker

An overview of the modified Vaccine Tracker reporting requirement for providers participating in the State’s COVID-19 vaccine program is provided here.

LeadingAge NY Fights for Funding for ACF/AL COVID-19 Relief

LeadingAge NY has been advocating for financial relief for all of our members given the extraordinary COVID-19-related costs and losses over the past year. In partnership with other associations, we sent this letter to Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and other key leaders in the Legislature. The letter urges them to allocate $75 million to ACFs, assisted living residences, and assisted living programs to help address these ongoing COVID-19 expenses. LeadingAge NY members are encouraged to reach out to their representatives today to echo this request as the budget is actively being negotiated, with a final agreement expected in the next week or so. Specifically, please ask your representatives to reach out to their leaders and request support for a $75 million allocation for ACF/AL providers from the federal funds New York is receiving.

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. Based on that data, a number of counties, primarily downstate, have positivity rates exceeding 5 percent, but no county in the state exceeds 10 percent. However, nursing homes across the state are still required to test staff twice per week. Updated visitation guidance dated Feb. 23rd requires nursing homes to consult the federal positivity rates to guide their approach to requiring visitors to be tested. Note that the ACF visitation guidance issued March 3rd, while different from the nursing home guidance, also refers ACF providers to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) county positivity rates.

The county positivity data posted by CMS are lagged by a week and are updated each Monday or Tuesday (e.g., data for the two-week period ending March 16th are posted on March 23rd). 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. Members should note that although state data are more current and comprehensive (e.g., they include both PCR and antigen tests, where CMS positivity rates are calculated exclusively on PCR tests), the visitation guidance specifies that providers use CMS positivity rates to guide their approach to visitation.

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 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.

Affordable Housing/Independent Living Updates

New HUD Guides on Rights and Responsibilities, Tenant Finances

On March 22nd, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Multifamily Housing released a new guide for tenants and owners, “Rights and Responsibilities for Tenants and Property Owners,” and a new guide for tenants, “Managing Your Finances During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Both are available in English and Spanish. Click here to access the guides and for more information from LeadingAge National.