COVID-19 Updates

Holiday Message
In observance of the U.S. federal Labor Day holiday, we will not publish on Monday, September 7, 2020. Service will resume on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. We wish our readers a safe and happy holiday.


Parkinson Renews Call For Prioritizing COVID-19 Vaccine For LTC Residents, Staff

Provider Magazine (9/3, Connole, 151K) reports, “The head of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has renewed his call for the nation’s long term care facilities to be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.” During “a public listening session organized by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), AHCA/NCAL President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Parkinson stressed the importance of getting a vaccine to long term care providers that have been on the front lines of the pandemic protecting one of the nation’s most vulnerable populations.” Parkinson said, “Members of our country’s greatest generation and the brave men and women who keep them safe deserve our support.” AHCA/NCAL indicated “it will continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, NIH, and CDC to ensure those who most urgently need the protection of a vaccine are able to access it as soon as possible.”

Remaining $2B In Federal Nursing Home Aid To Be Distributed Using Value-Based Structure, HHS Confirms

Skilled Nursing News (9/3, Spanko) reports, “The federal government on Thursday confirmed the value-based structure of the remaining $2 billion in federal aid to nursing homes, with facilities that beat baseline COVID-19 infection and mortality rates set to receive more relief.” The remaining distribution will be structured by HHS “as a kind of monthly contest, with $500 million up for grabs each month through the end of the year, starting in October.” HHS’ formal “announcement confirms the structure that American Health Care Association (AHCA) president and CEO Mark Parkinson described in detail last week during a webinar,” saying, “I think it’s a really exciting program, and frankly, it’s a way to cover some of the testing costs that might not be covered by this tranche of funds that goes out today,” in reference “to the $2.5 billion that went to all operators regardless of performance.”

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/3, Berklan) reports, “Providers will not have to apply for the funding: HHS will measure nursing home performance through required data submissions and distribute funding accordingly.” The providers will be assessed “on two measured outcomes: Their ability to keep new COVID infection rates and mortality rates low among residents.”

In a separate piece, McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/4, Brown) reports, “Providers must have an active state certification as a nursing home or skilled nursing facility and receive reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in order to qualify for the payments through the incentive program.” In addition, “they must also report to at least one of three data sources to establish eligibility: Certification and Survey Provider Enhanced Reports (CASPER), Nursing Home Compare (NHC), and Provider of Services (POS).”

Health Facilities Association Of Maryland Honors Heroic Health Care Workers

WMAR-TV Baltimore (9/3) reports, “On Thursday morning, The Health Facilities Association of Maryland held a celebration for 20 health care workers from skilled nursing centers, rehab centers and assisted living campuses across the state.” These workers “were nominated by their employers and chosen for their heroic performance during this crisis.”

Texas Nursing Homes Must Conduct Twice-Weekly COVID-19 Testing Of Staff Or Face Potential Fines

The Dallas Morning News (9/3, Marfin, 946K) reports, “Nursing homes in almost half of all Texas counties, including Dallas and Tarrant, must start testing their staff twice a week for COVID-19 or face potential fines.” These broad “new rules from the federal government are aimed at reducing spread in nursing homes, where the virus has cut a deadly path.” Although “families and advocates hope the rules will open the door to more visitation, which has been restricted for months,” some “nursing homes leaders warn a lack of testing supplies right now could undermine the government’s efforts and strain resources over the long-term.” According to Texas Health Care Association president and CEO Keith Warren, “Regular testing is a good policy because it helps providers to identify the virus. … But given the limited supply availability, these providers are not going to be in compliance overnight.”

Connecticut Lawmakers Ask Governor To Require Health Care Workers Notify Employers Of COVID-19 Symptoms, Exposure

The Connecticut Mirror (9/3, Carlesso) reports, “Lawmakers are calling on Gov. Ned Lamont to issue an order requiring health care workers to notify their employer if they are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, if they have been exposed to others with the disease, or if they are awaiting results of a coronavirus test.” Connecticut Association of Health Care facilities president and CEO Matthew Barrett “said during a public hearing Wednesday that while many homes have screening procedures in place such as temperature checks and regular testing, employees are not legally required to report when they are sick.” During a hearing before the legislature’s Public Health Committee, Barrett said, “I’m not aware that the employees are compelled to disclose that.” He added, “Sometimes I’ve heard it referred to as kind of an honor system. … The law does not compel the employees [to report] and there are no consequences under the law right now for misrepresenting that.”

Over 60% Of Minnesota LTC Facilities Have Implemented Indoor Visits, Survey Shows

McKnight’s Senior Living (9/4, Bonvissuto) reports, “More than 60% of Minnesota’s assisted living communities and nursing homes have implemented programs allowing indoor visits by family members and people deemed ‘essential caregivers,’ according to a joint survey from” Care Providers of Minnesota and another group. Although “active outbreaks of the virus and staffing shortages have kept some facilities closed to visitors of any kind…a spokesperson for Care Providers of Minnesota, the state affiliate of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, said the associations were ‘pleased to see that a significant majority have implemented the essential caregiver program.’”

Pennsylvania Legislation Aims To Ease LTC Workforce Shortages

McKnight’s Senior Living (9/4, Bonvissuto) reports, “The Pennsylvania Legislature is working on legislation to ease workforce shortages in the senior living industry and create a permanent pathway to employment as the state’s older adult population climbs.” On Thursday, “during a call with the media…Pennsylvania Health Care Association President Zach Shamberg shared information on two companion bills in the state Senate and House of Representatives that seek to address those workforce challenges.” The bills “seek to amend current state law, allowing temporary nurse aides (TNAs) hired during the COVID-19 pandemic to be placed on the state’s Certified Nurse Aide Registry and be eligible for permanent employment at long-term care facilities, including assisted living communities.”


Documentation, Training Important In Face Of Potential Wave Of Coronavirus-Related Lawsuits, Legal Expert Says

McKnight’s Long Term Care News (9/4, Brown) reports, “Providers could see a wave of coronavirus-related lawsuits in the near future as cases rise, which is why a legal expert is stressing the importance of documentation and training to prevent operators from being subject to such cases.” In mid-August, “long-term care stakeholders expressed concern…after data showed that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases had risen in July after being on a steady decline throughout June.” This increase may also “bring a jump in the number of tort litigation cases filed, particularly wrongful death and negligence claims from staff members, residents and visitors.”


CMS Launches Updated Care Compare Web Site

ModernHealthcare (9/3, Castellucci, Subscription Publication, 214K) reports on Thursday, CMS launched an updated Care Compare website “that consolidates its eight online consumer tools to one platform” in an effort “to give users a more streamlined experience using its platform.” The site is available at

FierceHealthcare (9/3, King, 146K) reports, “The site combines the previously existing sites that allow consumers to comparison shop based on the quality metrics for hospitals, nursing homes, home health providers, dialysis facilities, long-term care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, physicians and hospice.” Verma said that instead of having to use multiple sites to research providers the information will now be more readily accessed.

PatientEngagementHIT (9/3, Heath) reports, “Previously, a patient planning a medical procedure would have to manually bounce between the different CMS Compare websites.” The site has also been optimized “for both mobile and tablet use.”

Also reporting are HealthLeaders Media (9/3, Commins, 119K) and Skilled Nursing News (9/3).

Anticholinergic Medications May Speed Up Older Adults’ Mental Decline, Study Indicates

HealthDay (9/3, Norton, 17K) reports that anticholinergic medications may “speed up older adults’ mental decline – especially if they are at increased risk of dementia,” investigators concluded. The study also revealed that “healthy older adults on these medications had an increased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.” The findings of the 688-older adult study were published online Sept. 2 in the journal Neurology.