COVID-19 update for Wednesday, May 13 as of 2:30 p.m.
Governor Wolf announced that gender identity, sexual orientation, and expression will be included in the state’s COVID-19 data collection.
Department of Health
The Department of Health announced its plans for distributing 1200 doses of remdesivir that it has received from the federal government. See its announcement, including links to the department’s distribution formula and a list of the 51 recipient hospitals.
Department of Health Daily Briefing
- The state’s new COVID-19 case count was down over the past 24 hours but the death count climbed as a result of continued reconciliation of past data.
- More than 12,400 residents of long-term-care facilities and 1800 employees of those facilities have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- As have more than 4000 health care workers across the state.
- Secretary Levine announced that the state has distributed more than 1200 doses of remdesivir, a drug that preliminary clinical trials suggest can help people recover from COVID-19 (see link above for the department’s formal announcement). The federal Department of Health and Human Services is managing distribution of the drug among the states and has assured that Pennsylvania will receive more in the future.
- Pennsylvania now has the laboratory capacity to do much more testing.
- The state is now able to test those who in the past were considered likely cases of COVID-19 but were not tested because of the scarcity of testing supplies.
- But while the state’s goal is broad surveillance testing, that is not yet possible.
Department of Human Services
- DHS has posted a notice that nurse aide testing is suspended until May 16, 2020 or until conditions are deemed safe to reopen.
- DHS’s Bureau of Human Services Licensing has published an FAQ on how economic impact payments made under the federal CARES Act might affect the Medicaid eligibility of residents of personal care homes and assisted living facilities who participate in programs operated by the department’s Office of Long-Term Living. The FAQ also addresses how such facilities must handle those payments on their residents’ behalf.
State Board of Medicine
The State Board of Medicine has suspended a regulation requiring physicians to provide paper prescriptions within 72 hours of issuing emergency prescriptions by telephone during the COVID-19 emergency.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro has announced that his office has opened criminal investigations into “several” nursing homes for possible criminal neglect of patients and residents.
- Yesterday the Senate unanimously passed SB 1122, which would appropriate $507 million in federal CARES Act money to state long-term care budget lines. This was added as an amendment to a bill that directed $34 million in CARES Act money to firefighters and EMS service. Find further information in the fiscal note on the bill.
- Senate leaders said that in light of the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic and state revenues, they are working on a five-month state budget that would run from July through November and would therefore require additional budget legislation to cover state spending as of December 1, 2020.
- House Speaker Mike Turzai has introduced HB 2510, the Senior Protection Act, which would spend $500 million in federal CARES Act money to address the spread of COVID-19 in long-term-care facilities. Unveiled earlier this week, the bill focuses on three areas: enhancing testing capabilities, infection control, and advancing clinical practices including the use of telemedicine. According to the Speaker, this would be accomplished by utilizing Pennsylvania’s academic medical centers (AMC) to ensure greater protection of seniors.
- The House is expected to return to session on Thursday, May 14.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS has posted an FAQ on price transparency and requirements for providers to make public their cash prices for COVID-19 diagnostic testing.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has updated its FAQs for health care personnel working among and around patients who have or are suspected of having COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its resources for hospitals and health care professionals preparing for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- The CDC has published information providing a framework for health systems providing non-COVID-19-related services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The CDC has updated its FAQ for laboratories that perform or wish to perform COVID-19 tests.
- The CDC has updated its information for pediatric providers.
- The CDC has posted information about COVID-19 and patients on home dialysis.
- The CDC has published guidance on serving patients in memory care units of long-term-care facilities and dealing with COVID-19 in this context.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA has updated its information for blood establishments regarding the COVID-19 emergency.
- The FDA has issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for a commercial nurse call system for use by providers for remotely monitoring and communicating with patients on ventilators.
- The FDA has issued an EUA for a commercial cardiogram system to be used as a diagnostic aid for identifying potential cardiac complications associated with COVID-19 or underlying conditions that may affect the clinical management of patients who have or are suspected of having COVID-19.
- The FDA has issued an EUA for a specific commercial diagnostic test for COVID-19.
Government Accountability Office
- The GAO has published a brief review of the science underlying social distancing.
Resources to Consult
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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