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Today's COVID-19 Report: Thursday, February 25

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Thursday, February 25 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and other topics of importance.


Check LeadingAge's FAQs and Resources on COVID-19 Vaccines and Issues Surrounding Vaccinations frequently. 
The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) released a toolkit with talking points, language tips, social media language, and trusted resources to help providers better communicate information regarding the COVID-19 vaccines. 

In Today's Report

  • You asked... we answered regarding use of county color vs. county positivity rates for determining indoor visitation
  • Wallace testifies in House Subcommittee on LTSS budget needs
  • Testing reimbursement for self-insured facilities-nursing homes:  Still awaiting FAQ and re-opening of portal
  • HOME Choice program has new manager
  • LeadingAge asks CMS, CDC, White House to expand visitation
  • Project ECHO – it’s not too late; new cohorts available
  • COVID-19 vaccine town hall for frontline care workers
  • 2021 LeadingAge Ohio Awards program to open next week
  • CompManagement to become Sedgwick
  • LeadingAge Need to Know

You asked… we answered

You asked: Do we use the county color or the county positivity rate for determining indoor visitation?

We answered: The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has confirmed that providers are to use the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) county color to determine visitation. CMS updated their CMS County Positivity Rate methodology during the week of September 14, 2020.  CMS notes that because there are instances where counties with high test positivity rates may reflect low testing levels rather than high levels of viral transmission, additional criteria were added to re-assign counties with low testing volume to lower nursing home staff testing tiers. ODH confirmed with CMS that providers are to utilize the county color to determine visitation.

Wallace testifies in House Subcommittee on LTSS budget needs

Last night, LeadingAge Ohio was invited to testify before the House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services on HB110, Ohio’s operating budget bill for SFY2022-23, as part of an aging panel that included LeadingAge Ohio, o4a, the Ohio Council for Home Care & Hospice, the Ohio Healthcare Association, and the Ohio Assisted Living Association. 

In testimony, Wallace shared LeadingAge Ohio’s priorities including shoring up payment for adult day providers, preserving the Governor’s proposed boost to home- and community-based waivers and state plan home health, and proceeding with rebasing as scheduled for Ohio’s nursing homes.

Wallace's testimony, both in person and the written submission, aslo focused on workforce, and included the following statement:

"Even before the pandemic of the past year, if you asked an aging service provider what their top
concern was, they would say workforce. We were eagerly pursuing legislative solutions on workforce
issues just prior to the pandemic. This is as true for a home health agency as it is for a nursing facility,
and though frontline caregivers are the most-needed, facilities also struggle to fill positions such as
facilities management, groundskeepers, activity coordinators and social workers. The need feels near universal."

Testimony can be viewed on the Ohio Channel. The aging panel begins at 1:16. LeadingAge Ohio’s testimony begins at 1:54. Questions from committee members begin at 2:05.

Testing reimbursement for self-insured facilities-nursing homes: Still awaiting FAQ and re-opening of portal

LeadingAge Ohio is still asking for the Ohio Department of Aging to release an FAQ and the portal for submission for testing reimbursement to be re-opened.  Obviously, we are seeking a further extension of the deadline beyond February 28.  LeadingAge Ohio will pass along updated information as soon as it is available.

HOME Choice program has new manager

LeadingAge Ohio was asked to make sure that members had received updated contact information for Ohio’s HOME Choice program. Jennifer Landau will serve as the new Education & Outreach Manager and can be reached at The Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) reminded providers that “now more than ever it is important to provide safe, effective transitions for individuals who wish to leave a facility and move back to their communities.”

As a reminder, HOME Choice (Helping Ohioans Move, Expanding Choice) is a transition program that assists individuals age 18 and older to move from a long-term care facility, hospital, or ICF – IID into a home- and community-based setting. Services and support provided include Transition Coordination and Community Transition Services. The attached fact sheet has additional details including the program eligibility requirements.

HOME Choice providers partners with staff to identify needs and opportunities as the individual prepares for their move. The first step in this process is an application, and HOME Choice has enhanced its application process. The system can be accessed here.

ODM is planning for virtual meetings in March and April. More information will follow closer to the dates.

LeadingAge asks CMS, CDC, White House to expand visitation

LeadingAge sent a letter to the White House Domestic Policy Council, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to urge expanded visitation in nursing homes. This letter is available here.

LeadingAge discussed actions that nursing homes are currently taking to make nursing home visitation safe, such as having visitation plans to address core principles of COVID-19 infection control, communicating clearly with residents and families about the realities and risks of visitation during COVID times, and working to increase staff vaccination rates. In turn, LeadingAge requested federal leadership to make changes including ensuring prioritization of nursing homes in the Retail Pharmacy Program for continued vaccine access, removing community prevalence-based (county positivity rate) visitation restrictions, expanding visitation options during outbreak, utilizing available resources such as continuing to supply point of care testing to nursing homes, and allowing for the use of Provider Relief Funds to purchase PPE to help lower transmission risks. 

Project ECHO – it’s not too late; new cohorts available

The Alzheimer’s Association and Optum Health launched two new Project ECHO cohorts recently. Providers can still receive CEUs and the full $6,000 payment. 

One group meets on Mondays 12:00–1:30 PM and the other meets on Thursdays from 10:30AM-12:00PM. Those who join soon can make up the first two sessions, which were recorded.  For more information, contact Emily Koebnick from the Alzheimer's Association at

COVID-19 vaccine town hall for frontline care workers
Thursday, March 4 - 7:00-8:30PM

LeadingAge, in partnership with the Black Coalition Against COVID (BCAC), is sponsoring a national town hall with the aging services community to address concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, particularly among direct care workers. The agenda will feature senior leadership from the White House, CDC, Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ medical schools, the National Black Nurses Association, and a variety of nationally recognized experts.

This town hall is open to anyone regardless of background or position in providing care. This national town hall will be broadcast by through its Facebook Live and Youtube streaming services on Thursday, March 4 from 7:00-8:30 PM. For more information, email LeadingAge's Joe Franco.

2021 LeadingAge Ohio Awards program to open next week

Each year the LeadingAge Ohio awards program is a celebration of the individuals and organizations within our membership we are so proud to serve. As we continue to navigate challenges posed by the pandemic, LeadingAge Ohio knows there are amazing stories and examples of caring, compassion and service like we’ve never known. 

Nominations for this year’s awards will open next week with six different categories available. A great way to learn more is to read the 2020 press release and learn more about past award winners. Additional information about the awards program is available on the LeadingAge Ohio website.  For questions, contact Jennifer Taylor at

CompManagement to become Sedgwick

LeadingAge Ohio Partner CompManagement is excited to announce that they will become Sedgwick as of March 1, 2021. Sedgwick’s commitment to Ohio employers remains as strong as ever. With more than 3,000 colleagues in Ohio, Sedgwick will continue to offer the best workers’ compensation program solutions to help providers mitigate risk and reduce costs.
At Sedgwick, taking care of people is at the heart of everything they do, because caring counts®. Under the Sedgwick name, your team will continue to provide you with the best possible service and outcomes and deliver on their mission of taking care of you and your employees. You can learn more about Sedgwick — a leading global provider of technology-enabled risk, benefits and integrated business solutions — at
There will be no staff changes as a result of this merger. Customers will continue to receive the same compassionate, consistent and quality service from the same team you’ve been working with at CompManagement.

LeadingAge Ohio looks forward to a continued partnership with Sedgwick.

Sedgwick formerly CompManagement

LeadingAge Need to Know: COVID-19 – February 25, 2021

LeadingAge shares the latest coronavirus news and resources with members twice each weekday. This morning's update featured information on LeadingAge's letter on easing visitation restrictions. 

Check out the full report here.

                Linkage Solutions                         Buerger


Please send all questions to 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.