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Sept. 14th 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 Sept. 13th, 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, please send them to Ami Schnauber, and be sure to check your email for the access information, or contact Jeff Diamond.

Cross-Sector Updates

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks State Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers Seeking Religious Exemptions

On Sept. 14th, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) prohibiting the Department of Health (DOH) from requiring health care employers to deny religious exemptions from the State COVID-19 vaccination mandate. Click here for more information.

CMS Expands Vaccine Mandate to Multiple Health Care Providers

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week that upcoming emergency regulations requiring vaccinations for nursing home staff will be expanded to include staff of hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies, among others, as a condition for participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Click here for more details on the expanded CMS mandate as well as information about new vaccination mandates for federal employees and contractors and private sector companies with 100 or more employees.

CDC Issues Updated Guidance on Return to Work After COVID-19 Exposure

The CDC updated its Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 on Sept. 10th. The update consolidates the guidance on infected and exposed health care personnel (HCP) and adds some clarifying language. The guidance, which is specific to health care settings, also provides a helpful table that summarizes the information. Click here for more information.

Do I Really Have to Write Another Plan?

With the Governor’s announcement on Labor Day triggering the implementation of the HERO Act, LeadingAge NY received questions regarding how the HERO Act interacts with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). Here is our thinking on how to approach these requirements if you have health care and non-health care services in your organization.

Coming Soon: New Round of Federal Provider Relief Funding

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week that the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the division of HHS that administers the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), will begin accepting applications for the next round of PRF funding on Sept. 29th. The total funding of $25.5 billion is comprised of $17 billion in PRF Phase 4 General Distribution funding and an $8.5 billion targeted rural allocation enacted by the American Rescue Plan (ARP). Click here for more information.

Nursing Home Updates

CMS Updates Testing Guidance for Nursing Homes

Updated guidance issued by CMS requires twice-weekly COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated staff in nursing homes this week. The guidance, QSO 20-38-NH, implements a new methodology for determining the frequency of routine testing of unvaccinated staff based on a combination of community transmission levels (CTLs) and positivity rates in the facility’s county. It also provides for a new, targeted approach to outbreak investigations and associated testing. Click here for more information.

CDC Issues New Infection Prevention Guidance for Nursing Homes

On Sept. 10th, the CDC issued recommendations for nursing home providers designed to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in long term care facilities. The recommendations address the following:

  • Updated outbreak response guidance to promote use of contact tracing approach. Alternative broad-based approaches to outbreak response at facility-wide or unit level also described;
  • Updated expanded screening testing recommendations for HCP;
  • Updated recommendations for quarantine of fully vaccinated residents;
  • Updated visitation guidance.

Click here for more information.