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01/07/2021

Today's COVID-19 Report: Friday, January 8, 2021

Friday, January 8, 2021

Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Friday, January 8, 2021 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and other topics of importance.


A REMINDER TO ALL MEMBERS

Check LeadingAge's FAQs and Resources on COVID-19 Vaccines and Issues Surrounding Vaccinations frequently. The most recent update includes Q&A on implications of mandating the vaccine for staff.
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has released a preliminary toolkit that has been developed with talking points, language tips, social media language, and trusted resources to help you better communicate about the safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines that have arrived in Ohio.

In Today's Report

  • ODH to providers: “Create a backup plan so no vaccines are wasted”
  • Timing of TB Testing following COVID vaccines
  • ODH modifies visitation guidance
  • Provider Relief Updates, including potential for delay in PRF reporting deadline
  • Emergency rental assistance program
  • Join the Advocacy in Action call Monday for latest on LeadingAge Ohio’s biennium budget priorities
  • All-member Q & A webinar - January 12 at 11:30AM
  • Activity professionals networking group continues in 2021: New year, new opportunities and new time
  • Friends of Wii bowling... Time for fun!
  • LeadingAge Need to Know

ODH to providers: “Create a backup plan so no vaccines are wasted”

Over the past few days, the DeWine Administration has become increasingly concerned about wasted vaccine doses when providers overestimate the number of individuals who will receive the vaccine. While nursing homes and assisted living work closely with their Pharmacy Partners to get an accurate estimate in the days leading up to their clinic, they have issued special guidance to other providers, advising them to create a backup list of other individuals who may receive the vaccine, should there be extra/unused doses on the day of vaccination.

LeadingAge Ohio encourages all members to have a list of individuals who may be able to respond quickly in the event of an overage of doses. Individuals who may be considered are those that would fall into the 1B category noted below. Particularly, family caregivers may be willing and eager to receive vaccine doses.

Below is the full notice issued by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH):

ODH offers the following additional guidance for ensuring COVID-19 vaccine is not wasted. In order to mitigate the risk of wasting COVID-19 vaccine, providers should attempt to verify the number of vaccine recipients immediately prior to each scheduled clinic.

To prevent vaccine wastage in the event that you have excess vaccines upon completion of a vaccination clinic and those vaccines are set to expire, it is critically important that providers have a plan in place to immediately identify and administer vaccine to backup recipients. Many providers have implemented waiting lists of eligible individuals for such circumstances. 

To the extent possible, ODH advises that providers administer excess vaccines in the following priority order:

  1. Identify Phase 1A eligible individuals to administer the vaccine to (healthcare providers, EMS personnel, or congregate care residents/staff).
  1. Identify Phase 1B eligible individuals to administer the vaccine to (individuals age 65+, people with severe congenital, developmental, or early onset medical disorders that make them particularly vulnerable, and teachers/staff in K–12 schools that plan to return to in-person classes in March).
  1. Identify otherwise eligible adults not included in Phases 1A or 1B to administer the vaccine to (e.g., priority to adults with underlying medical conditions before adults with no underlying medical conditions).
  1. If more than 20 doses are at risk of wastage, please call the ODH Provider Call Center at the number below to discuss options including, but not limited to, transfer of vaccine to other enrolled providers.

IMPORTANT:  To prevent wastage of COVID-19 vaccine, providers should have a backup recipient plan in place. Where possible, follow the priority guidance outlined above. When not possible due to time constraints or lack of availability of priority individuals, please administer vaccine to any individuals eligible under the appropriate FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

As noted in previous guidance on this issue, if you administer vaccinations under the circumstances outlined above:

  • The vaccine administration must be reported in ImpactSIIS, including race and ethnicity data, within 24 hours.
  • Target population/occupation data does not need to be reported for vaccinated individuals not in Phase 1A.
  • Be sure to include these vaccinated individuals in your follow-up plans for administering second doses.

If you have any questions or issues, please call the ODH Provider Call Center between 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, at 1-844-9ODHVAX (1-844-963-4829) or email COVIDVACCINE@odh.ohio.gov. You also may visit the ODH COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Information Training page for additional information and resources

Timing of TB Testing following COVID vaccines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States. This guidance addresses a number of the frequently asked questions, such as dose intervals, mixing of COVID vaccines, mixing of COVID vaccines with other vaccines, allergic reactions and anaphylaxis, etc. LeadingAge, thanks to the experience of a member, would like to draw attention to a piece about vaccines and TB testing, tucked neatly into the last section of the document title “Laboratory Testing.”

In that section, the CDC recommends that individuals who have received a COVID-19 vaccine should delay TB testing (tuberculin skin test or interferon gamma release assay) until four weeks after receiving the second dose of COVID-19 vaccination. Understanding that this may cause an issue with new hires and annual employee health certifications, LeadingAge reached out to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for further guidance and will share with members once it is received.

ODH modifies visitation guidance

This week, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) released a sixth amended Director’s Order on visitation in nursing homes and similar facilities. The change to the order can be found under section 8. B. iii. b. 2. which now reads: “Residents who are on transmission-based COVID-19 restrictions may receive in-person compassionate care visits with adherence to transmission based precautions.” Previously, the order stated, “Compassionate care visits shall only be conducted in COVID-free areas of the homes.”

All other sections of the Order remain unchanged.

Provider Relief Updates, including potential for delay in PRF reporting deadline

LeadingAge shared the following important updates related to provider relief payment, including anticipated disbursement of Infection Control and Phase 3 payments, and other PRF-specific guidance:

  • Nursing Home Infection Control payments
    The November payments are awaiting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval and once approved, could even begin today. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) anticipates a similar number of nursing homes to be eligible in this round as were eligible for October payments, so roughly 70% of the 13,000+ nursing homes eligible for the program. HHS staff suggested the approach to the remaining payments may have changed and that the remaining $1.2B for the incentive payments will be distributed based upon November and December performance. Originally, the incentive payments were to consist of four (4) monthly payments and one aggregate payment. It sounds like the aggregate payment may no longer be occurring. This will hurt those nursing homes that were left out of early incentive payments because of data reporting issues but had low rates of infection and could have potentially benefitted from a payment that looked at performance over the four-month period.

  • Phase 3 & Phase 4 payments
    HHS has indicated that further Phase 3 payments are delayed; HHS is not expected to release another round of payments until the week of January 25. There will be a Phase 4 application as the recently-passed COVID Relief Bill requires it. LeadingAge reports that the guidance for this next round is being drafted but most likely will need to be completed under the new Administration.

  • Members with TIN validation and other approval issues
    HHS has continued to try to resolve issues but admits that many issues remain. At this point, LeadingAge anticipates having to wait until after the transition to resolve the remaining issues through a future application process or under the Biden Administration.

  • PRF reporting
    LeadingAge reports that is highly likely that the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) reporting deadline will be delayed including the launch of the reporting portal; originally the portal was scheduled to go live in mid-January with the first reports due February 15. While the lawyers are still pushing to meet the original deadlines, HHS leaders are 95% certain that the reporting will be delayed. Congress passed some changes to the program -- especially redefining how lost revenues are calculated -- that will impact the reporting process and may be the cause for the delay. Should the reporting be delayed as staff are predicting, it is possible that the content of those reports and the process could also change under the Biden Administration.

Emergency rental assistance program

The U.S. Department of Treasury (USDT) has published a website for the new $25 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Congress authorized the new program as part of the December 27 COVID-19 relief package. Funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance program can be used for the payment of rent, rental arrears, utilities and home energy costs (and arrears), and other expenses.

Owners who do not receive ongoing rental assistance, including those owners of low income housing tax credit units, and their renters, are eligible for the program. More on the new website and the program are located here.

Join the Advocacy in Action call Monday for latest on LeadingAge Ohio’s biennium budget priorities

Join LeadingAge Ohio Advocacy staff for this month's Advocacy in Action call, Monday, January 11 at 10:00AM to discuss LeadingAge Ohio’s priorities for Ohio’s 2022/2023 biennium budget.

To join Zoom call from your computer:  

https://easyconnecthd.zoom.us/j/9150897248?pwd=UmtubGgzY2hyRk1BaXJEV0EzdWhZZz09

Meeting ID: 915-089-7248
Meeting Passcode: 634189

To join via phone, dial: (646) 558-8656; meeting ID: 915-089-7248.

One-touch dial:16465588656,9150897248#,,,,#

All-member Q & A webinar - January 12 at 11:30AM

LeadingAge Ohio will host its bi-monthly all-member webinar focused entirely on member questions and answers on Tuesday, January 12 at 11:30AM.

During the unscripted, 30-minute webinar, LeadingAge Ohio policy and regulatory experts Stephanie DeWees, Anne Shelley, Kathryn Brod and Susan Wallace will field YOUR questions on the vaccine and all things compliance, including infection control, testing, surveys, reporting requirements, and other fast-moving topics.

Members still have time to send questions in advance to the COVID-19 mailbox. Alternately, members will be able to chat in questions during the webinar. Registration is required, but there is no fee to participate.

Activity professionals networking group continues in 2021: New year, new opportunities and new time

Activity professionals within the LeadingAge Ohio membership are continuing to come together to offer support, share ideas, and discuss resources. On yesterday’s call, Stephanie DeWees, LeadingAge Ohio’s Quality and Regulatory Specialist for Long-Term Care, offered insight on the importance of communication as vaccines roll out across the state and the variance in vaccine confidence amongst staff and residents. CVS, one of the pharmacy partners in the vaccine distribution, compiled a white paper on understanding and addressing hesitancy to the vaccine. DeWees shared the importance of communication including support from the medical director or clinical person. Activity staff shared some creative ideas for holiday celebrations and what education could be offered in 2021 to support efforts to combat social isolation and influence positive mental health.

Resources are continuing to be added to the Activity Professionals networking page on the COVID-19 Hub. These networking calls will continue bi-weekly but a new time has been established to grow participation in this dynamic group. The next call is scheduled for Thursday, January 21, from 12:00PM to 1:00PM. For details on how to join these calls, please contact Jennifer Taylor at jtaylor@leadingageohio.org to ensure activities staff are receiving information on LeadingAge Ohio activities events.

Friends of Wii bowling... Time for fun!

The National Senior League (NSL) will be managing season 11 of the Senior Wii Bowling Championships starting the week of February 15.

The NSL has asked LeadingAge Ohio to forward this invitation to members in hopes of encouraging resident participation in this season’s championships. The NSL has had many coaches say how thankful they and their Wii bowlers were last season for having the opportunity to do something fun in spite of COVID-19. Wii bowlers can easily keep their 6-foot distancing and wear masks as they bowl as a team or teams. The bowlers love to bowl; they only need the opportunity from leaders in their communities to do so.

Registration and additional information is now available on the NSL website or by calling Dennis Berkholtz at 435-714-9491.

LeadingAge Need to Know: COVID-19 – January 8, 2021

LeadingAge shares the latest coronavirus news and resources with members twice each weekday. This morning's update featured a message from LeadingAge Board Chair, Carol Silver Elliott.

Check out the full report here.


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Questions

Please send all questions to COVID19@leadingageohio.org. Additionally, members are encouraged to visit the LeadingAge Ohio COVID-19 Working Group facebook group to pose questions to peers and share best practices. LeadingAge is continuing its daily calls for all members.  To participate in these daily online updates, members should register here.  

LeadingAge Ohio is working to ensure that the information in our daily alerts, on our website, and all coronavirus-related communications is as accurate as possible. However, LeadingAge Ohio makes no guarantees about the accuracy of the information. 

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Our national partner, LeadingAge, is an association of 6,000 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the world of possibilities for aging. Together, we advance policies, promote practices and conduct research that support, enable and empower people to live fully as they age.