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May 16th COVID-19 Update

New updates pertaining to COVID-19 continue to be announced by both the state and federal government on a regular basis. The latest developments for providers of long-term/post-acute care (LTPAC) and senior services are outlined 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 May 15th, is available here, and a list of the items shared by LeadingAge NY staff in the webinar chat can be accessed here. Please note that there will be no webinar next week due to the LeadingAge NY Annual Conference and Exposition; we will return with a new update after Memorial Day on Tues., May 30th at 11 a.m. If you have questions in the meantime or would like the access information for these webinars, please contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

Health Care Workforce EO Scheduled to Expire Next Week

Executive Order (EO) 4, which declares a statewide disaster emergency due to health care staffing shortages, is scheduled to expire next week, on May 22nd. The EO has been extended monthly since its inception, but the Governor’s plan for the EO as the May deadline approaches is unknown at this time.

The EO allows for several flexibilities to accommodate the long term care workforce, including utilization of recent nursing graduates and out-of-state nurses in facilities and the use of unlicensed staff for collection of COVID-19 tests.

LeadingAge NY continues to advocate for continuation of the order as providers face significant staffing challenges. In addition, we continue to call on the Department of Health (DOH) to eliminate or reduce Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) reporting and relax state COVID-19 guidance across provider types, and continue to request clarification on the provision of Medicaid telehealth past the end of the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE).

For an overview of EOs 4 and 4.1, please see the links in this Intelligence article.

Federal and State Staff Vaccine Mandates Still in Place for Now

LeadingAge NY members should note that despite Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) statements indicating an end to the federal staff COVID-19 vaccine mandate for providers subject to federal conditions of participation, the mandate is still currently in place. After the federal mandate is rescinded, NY providers must still comply with NY's health care staff vaccine mandate. Click here for more information.

DEA Temporary Rule Extends Telemedicine Flexibilities for Prescription of Certain Controlled Medications

Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary rule to extend COVID-19 PHE telemedicine flexibilities for the prescription of controlled medications. Click here for more information.

CDC COVID Data Tracker Debuts New Look, Updated Data Points

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is no longer calculating county COVID-19 transmission rates based on test positivity rates and new infections that health care facilities were required to review weekly. Also gone are COVID-19 Community Level (CCL) calculations that were designed to help guide masking decisions and other infection control activities in the community. As of May 11th, the CDC COVID Data Tracker displays hospital admission, death, and emergency department (ED) visit data as the primary surveillance metrics for COVID-19. Click here for more information.

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

Updated CDC Guidance and Implications for ACF and Assisted Living Masking

While we continue to await updated direction from DOH, ACF and AL providers should make note of updated guidance from the CDC. Click here for more information.

COVID-19 Test Kits Still Available for Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Providers

LeadingAge National has confirmed with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials that distribution of COVID-19 test kits to nursing homes and AL providers will not end, despite the end of the federal PHE.

Providers needing to make adjustments to the amount or cadence of tests received may email the HHS Binax Team at Binax.Team@HHS.gov to enroll, de-enroll, re-enroll, increase, decrease, pause, or unpause their allocations. More information on how HHS will determine maximum allocations in the absence of a Community Transmission Rate metric will be forthcoming from LeadingAge National.

Affordable Housing/Independent Living Updates

HUD Begins COVID-19 Supplemental Payment Approvals, Publishes New Funding for Green Retrofits

On May 11th, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began issuing approval notifications, and in some cases funding allotments, for Round 5 COVID-19 Supplemental Payment (CSP) requests submitted earlier this year. Click here for more information.