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COVID-19 Update: May 14, 2020

COVID-19 update for Thursday, May 14as of 2:30 p.m.

Pennsylvania Update

Governor Wolf

The Wolf administration released an updated Carnegie Mellon University Risk-Based Decision Support Tool report for May 12.  The support tool is used when making decisions about which Pennsylvania counties to reopen.

Department of Health

On its message board for licensed entities (go here and click “message board”), the Department of Health sent the following reminder to skilled nursing facilities:

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, the Department is aware that some skilled nursing care facilities may struggle with adequate staffing.  Despite this challenge, the facility remains responsible for providing adequate care and maintaining a safe environment for residents.  The Department will continue to uphold its regulatory responsibilities but will not cite a facility based solely on a request for assistance from federal, state, and local resources such as the National Guard, the Department’s consultant, ECRI, Inc., or others. The Department expects facilities to reach out for assistance during this unprecedented time.

Department of Health Daily Briefing

  • With 275 new deaths to report, most of which are the result of reconciling past case data, Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 death toll now exceeds 4000 people. All were adults.
  • More than 12,600 residents of long-term-care facilities and nearly 2000 employees in those facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, as have more than 4000 health care workers.
  • Secretary Levine discussed strategies for pediatricians to provide well-child visits and ensure that children stay current with their immunizations.
  • Department of Health officials are contacting the state’s six children’s hospitals about whether they have seen any cases of a COVID-19-related inflammatory syndrome that shows similar symptoms to Kawasaki disease, which is a childhood illness. Despite published reports, Secretary Levine said she is unaware of any such cases in the state.
  • Secretary Levine announced that CVS will begin performing drive-through testing at some of its locations using self-swabs. She does not know the criteria CVS will employ for whom it tests.  Rite Aid testing locations will test anyone.
  • Secretary Levine said there have been no troubling spikes in case counts in counties that have moved from red to yellow but warned that only five days have passed since those reopenings.
  • Next week the state will begin considering criteria for moving counties and regions from yellow to green.
  • Secretary Levine expressed no opinion when asked about HAP’s complaints about the governor’s veto of telehealth legislation, the state helping hospitals with loans instead of grants, and other matters.
  • The state has no plans to reopen any areas on anything less than a county-wide area.

Department of Human Services

  • DHS reissued its comprehensive guidance document for hospitals to reflect a requirement to test patients for COVID-19 prior to discharge to a nursing care facility, personal care home, or assisted living residence.
  • DHS issued new guidance documents for nursing homes summarizing several recent health alerts on topics such as testing protocols for residents returning from a hospital, cohorting patients, and periodic screening of residents and staff. Find those documents here and here.

Federal Update

Department of Health and Human Services

HHS is sending out its largest distribution of remdesivir this week. As of this week, HHS will have sent out 40 percent of its current supply.  The drug is being sent to state health departments, which will distribute it to hospitals.   Hospitals are being asked to update their data on COVID and suspected COVID inpatients and ICU patients on a weekly basis via the teletracking portal.  The next deadline is Monday, May 18 at midnight.  Once the federal supply is exhausted the federal government will not receive any additional donated doses of the drug.

Federal Emergency Management Agency

FEMA has updated its policy on COVID-19 medical costs eligible for public assistance under the agency’s FEMA Public Assistance Program. Eligible recipients for these funds include state, local, tribal, and territorial entities and certain private, non-profit organization-owned and/or operated medical facilities.

Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued a policy memorandum describing temporary policy changes for certain foreign medical graduates during the COVID-19 emergency.  The temporary policy addresses situations in which H-1B foreign medical graduates are temporarily unable to work full-time due to quarantine, illness, travel restrictions, or other consequences of the pandemic during the COVID-19 emergency.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

CMS has issued a new toolkit on state actions and best practices to mitigate the prevalence of COVID-19 in nursing homes.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

OSHA has issued an alert with information to keep nursing home and long-term care facility workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

SAMHSA is inviting applications for $40 million in grants to support states and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic in advancing efforts to prevent suicide and suicide attempts among adults 25 and older in order to reduce the overall suicide rate and number of suicides in the United States.

National Institutes of Health

The NIH announced that a clinical trial has begun to evaluate whether hydroxychloroquine, given together with the antibiotic azithromycin, can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Food and Drug Administration

  • On Friday, May 15, the FDA will hold a virtual town hall for researchers, clinical laboratories, and commercial manufacturers to discuss the production and use of 3D-printed swabs during the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more here.
  • The FDA has issued EUAs for four specific commercial diagnostic tests for COVID-19; find them here, here, here, and here.

Resources to Consult

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services

Main COVID-19 Page

COVID-19 Provider Resources

Press Releases

Pennsylvania Department of Health

Main COVID-19 Page

PA Health Alert Network

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Main COVID-19 Page

FAQ

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Filed in Coronavirus, COVID-19.

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