COVID-19 Updates


Private-Pay Assisted Living Providers Have Until September 13 To Begin Application For CARES Act Funding

Provider Magazine (9/2, Connole, 151K) reports, “In a late Sept. 1 development, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that private-pay assisted living/memory care providers will be eligible to apply for CARES Act Provider Relief Funds under the current Phase 2 General Distribution round of COVID-19 funding.” Similar to “other providers applying for Phase 2 funding, eligible assisted living communities will receive 2 percent of their annual revenue from patient care and will have until Sept. 13 to begin their application, according to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), part of the American Health Care Association.” NCAL executive director Scott Tittle said, “Funding from the federal government will help ensure assisted living providers continue these efforts to keep their residents and staff safe, as well as remain a reliable long term care option for their local communities.”

Prioritizing LTC Residents, Staff For COVID-19 Vaccine Will Prevent Further Deaths, Parkinson Says

McKnight’s Senior Living (9/3, Bonvissuto) reports, “The first available vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 should go to frontline health care workers – including those who work in assisted living communities – and first responders, according to draft recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.” However, “application of the recommendations to older adults in long-term care settings – specifically, senior housing – is unclear, according to industry representatives.” AHCA/NCAL president and CEO Mark Parkinson said, “Long-term care was forgotten at the start of the pandemic, but we cannot be forgotten now. … Ensuring long-term care residents and staff are among the first to receive a vaccine when it becomes available will help mitigate the risk and prevent further deaths.”

Weekly COVID-19 Data Sent To Feds May Now Include POC Testing Info

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/3, Brown) reports, “Providers can now include information about any point-of-care testing when submitting their weekly COVID-19 data to the federal government.” On Tuesday, AHCA/NCAL “detailed the updates to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health care Safety Network (NHSN) Resident Impact and Facility Capacity pathway.” Four new questions have been included in the updates “regarding providers’ use of point-of-care testing.”

CMS’ Special Focus Program Should Be Expanded To Include Lowest 10% Of LTC Facilities As Rated By CMS, AHCA Says

WBRC-TV Birmingham, AL (9/2, Riepenhoff, Molina, Zurik, 58K) reports on CMS’ Special Focus Facility program that “brings increased inspections and heightened enforcement to troubled nursing homes.” According to AHCA, “the Special Focus Program should be expanded to include the bottom 10% of the nation’s long-term care facilities as rated by CMS.” AHCA president and CEO Mark Parkinson said, “What they don’t need is more fines and regulations. … They need someone to come in and help them.”

Florida Governor’s Order Permitting Nursing Home Visits Will Allow For Slow Reopening In Safe Manner, Association Leader Says

Fox News (9/2, Genovese, 27.59M) reports, “By September, it had been about six months since Florida nursing homes had last allowed families to visit vulnerable seniors due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.” On Wednesday, Florida Health Care Association executive director Emmett Reed told Fox news that “the restriction had ‘saved thousands of lives.’” However, Reed “says it is about time to reunite seniors with family members, noting that facilities have made significant progress statewide since March.” Gov. DeSantis announced Tuesday that he would lift the visitation ban. However, Reed “was quick to note that this doesn’t mean facilities will be going back to normal,” and, instead, “Tuesday’s order will allow for a ‘slow reopening, allowing visitation in a safe methodical manner.’”


Fed Shipment Of POC COVID-19 Test Devices To Nursing Homes Should Be Completed By Next Week, Official Says

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/2, Brown) reports, “The federal government plans to complete its shipments of COVID-19 point-of-care testing devices to nursing homes by the end of next week, a top health official revealed Tuesday.” Now, “the distribution process is…ahead of schedule after it was initially expected to be completed by the end of September.” Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D., assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, said, “We’re focusing on nursing homes, the elderly and minorities because they are the most likely to be hospitalized and die. I think it’s very clear that the vulnerable need to be shielded and they need to be our first priority.”


Rise In Staff Cases Of COVID-19 Among Assisted Living Communities “Especially Noteworthy,” Analysis Indicates

McKnight’s Senior Living (9/2, Bonvissuto) reports, “A new analysis of COVID-19 data from assisted living communities finds a ‘significant increase’ in cases among residents and staff members, with the rise in staff cases ‘especially noteworthy.’” According to the Kaiser family Foundation, “four out of five states with the largest increases in staff cases (California, Florida, Nevada and South Carolina) also are considered ‘hotspot’ states with widespread community transmission.” The increase “in staff member COVID-19 cases ‘is most likely to disproportionately affect female, Black and low-wage workers, based on recent analysis,’ the authors said.”

High Number Of Coronavirus Infections May Go Undetected In Health Care Workers, CDC Suggests

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/1, Lasek) reports, “A study spanning major medical institutions has found that a high proportion of coronavirus infections among health care workers may go undetected, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Researchers “analyzed COVID test data from more than 3,200 providers in 13 U.S. medical centers who regularly cared for COVID-19 patients, beginning Feb. 1,” and found that “fully 6% of the providers had antibody evidence of a previous infection.” The findings were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Early COVID-19 Spread In Seattle, Wuhan Were More Extensive Than Reported Initially, Study Shows

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/2, Lasek) reports, “The early spread of COVID-19 in Seattle and the city of Wuhan, China, was far more extensive than initially reported, according to a new study.” Even though researchers “were not surprised to find overlooked COVID-19 cases in both cities, the ratios of SARS-CoV-2 to influenza-positive swabs were surprisingly high, reported Lauren Ancel Meyers, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin.” The findings were published in eClinicalMedicine.

South Carolina Issues Guidance On Limited Visitation At LTC Facilities

McKnight’s Senior Living (9/2, Bonvissuto) reports, “South Carolina released new guidance for limited outdoor visitation at assisted living communities and nursing homes on Tuesday, following criteria from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the state’s own long-term care testing guidelines.” This new “guidance from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control allows visitation based on no cases among staff or residents within the past 14 days and the availability of adequate staffing and personal protective equipment.” Visitation at “assisted living communities can begin…before testing of staff and residents takes place, but testing must occur within 30 days of the issuance of the guidelines for outdoor testing at communities.”