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May 25th COVID-19 Update

New updates pertaining to the COVID-19 emergency 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 reviewed 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 24th, 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

The latest vaccination information, including updates on new State vaccine guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) elimination of the minimum interval between COVID-19 vaccines and other vaccines, amendments to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine emergency use authorization (EUA), and the coming expiration of the majority of the U.S. Johnson & Johnson vaccine supply, is summarized here.

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

New NHSN Vaccination Reporting Requirement

We remind nursing home members that homes are now required to report COVID-19 vaccination status for residents and staff on a weekly basis through the CDC’s 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. Note that there are some reporting items that are optional (e.g., reporting by job category).

The CDC will broadcast a recorded training presentation with live question and answer sessions at 3:30 p.m. on May 25th and 27th. Registration is required and 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.

Enforcement of the requirement will begin on June 14th, meaning that 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.”

Free Protect Nursing Homes Tool Now Available

A free new resource for nursing home leaders seeking to control infections in their facilities, ProtectNursingHomes.org, is now available. Built by Yale University, UCLA, and U.S. Digital Response, the site provides rich detail on staff interconnectivity that has long been desired by nursing home administrators and health leads, but that has been difficult to attain. It can be a helpful tool in outbreak management for COVID-19 as well as other infections that more routinely challenge nursing homes. An overview and demo of the Protect Nursing Homes tool, previously featured by the CDC and on a LeadingAge National call, can be accessed here.

Certified Nurse Aide Waiver to End Soon

In anticipation of the certified nurse aide (CNA) training waiver coming to an end soon, LeadingAge NY will offer the Train-the-Trainer: Ready, Set, Teach! program when there is enough interest for the program. The training is done virtually over the course of five days, with each training session running for three hours between 1 and 4 p.m. If you have an interest in having staff trained so they can teach the 100-hour CNA program, please contact Kathy Taylor to be placed on the waiting list. If you have any questions about the programming itself or about the training session on Developing, Conducting, and Running a Successful CNA Training Program, please contact Karen Puglisi.

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. Based on federal data, only a single county had a test positivity rate above 5 percent. The county positivity data posted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (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 New York City 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.

The Department of Health (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. The statewide nursing home staff vaccination rate is 61 percent, although county rates range from 44 to 92 percent. The ACF staff vaccination rate currently stands at 69 percent, while 94 percent of residents are vaccinated. The nursing home resident vaccination rate is 85 percent. The rates are based on daily Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) reporting and can be accessed here.

Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Updates

DOH Seeks Input on Enhanced HCBS FMAP for Waiver Services Providers

The DOH Office of Health Insurance Programs (OHIP) is inviting Nursing Home Transition and Diversion/Traumatic Brain Injury (NHTD/TBI) waiver services providers to meet on Fri., May 28th from 2 to 2:45 p.m. to discuss a letter sent by CMS on May 13th to state Medicaid agencies regarding additional support for Medicaid HCBS during the COVID-19 emergency. The document provides an overview of potential reinvestments of the enhanced federal support for HCBS, as authorized by Section 9817 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Click here for more information and to register for the meeting.