Coronavirus update for Tuesday, May 19 as of 2:30 p.m.
Governor Wolf has vetoed three COVID-19-related bills.
- Senate Bill 317 would have authorized counties to develop and implement their own mitigation plans and decide when businesses within their county could reopen and would have prohibited state agencies from promulgating regulations until 90 days after the COVID-19 emergency declaration is terminated except with permission from the legislation
- House Bills 2388 and 2412 would have permitted various industries to reopen in red phase counties.
See the governor’s news release announcing the vetoes and also find links to his veto messages for each of the bills.
Department of Health
The department announced that the CDC has sent three teams to Pennsylvania to help with the state’s response to COVID-19. The teams arrived last week and will stay for two weeks, with two teams assisting with long-term-care facilities and one team helping to address food facility outbreaks. They will teach infection control practices, provide training on the use of personal protective equipment and outbreak response, and assist with developing the state’s testing strategy for nursing homes.
Department of Health Daily Briefing
- The state continues to report high death figures as the number of new cases continues to decline. Secretary Levine explained that this results from a combination of the continued reconciliation of past case data and deaths resulting from times when the case counts were higher. The death figures should eventually reflect the declining case counts, she said.
- The state has seen its first pediatric death from COVID-19.
- More than 16,000 residents and employees in 557 long-term-care facilities in 44 counties have been diagnosed with COVID-19. More than 3100 of those residents have passed away from the disease.
- Secretary Levine discussed the work of the three teams from the CDC (described above) and said the teams working with long-term-care facilities would be developing facility-specific testing plans for nursing homes.
- The department’s web site now has case and death data for all long-term-care facilities regulated by the Department of Health and Department of Human Services.
- Secretary Levine said the state is ahead of its schedule for increasing testing in Pennsylvania.
- Contact tracing is under way in all of the yellow counties with adequate staffing but the state is also working to increase that staffing.
Department of Human Services/Office of Long-Term Living
Noting that federal guidance directs nursing homes to restrict visitors and non-essential personnel to protect residents, OLTL announced that Pennsylvania has received approval to use funds from civil money penalties for the purchase of technology that enables residents to engage in virtual social and telehealth visits in the absence of visitors. Facilities interested in pursuing such resources can learn more from this FAQ for state Medicaid agencies and use this application template.
Department of Health and Human Services
- HHS has updated its FAQ for the distribution of CARES Act money through the Provider Relief Fund on three occasions in the past two weeks. Go here to see the changes, which are identified within the document.
- HHS is providing $11 billion in new funding to support COVID-19 testing to states, territories, and tribes. States must submit to HHS their projected month-to-month testing plans and capabilities for the rest of calendar year 2020.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS issued recommendations on the safe reopening of nursing homes. See CMS’s announcement, the recommendations, and an FAQ.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC updated its interim infection prevention and control recommendations for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
- The CDC has updated its advice on strategies for optimizing the supply of personal protective equipment.
Food and Drug Administration
- The FDA published guidance on the implementation of acceptable full-length and abbreviated donor history questionnaires and accompanying materials for use in screening donors of source plasma.
- On Wednesday, May 20, the FDA will hold a virtual town hall meeting for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers that are developing or have developed COVID-19 diagnostic tests to answer technical questions about the development and validation of such tests. The FDA will hold another such town hall next Wednesday, May 27.
National Institutes of Health
The NIH has launched a multi-pronged study to understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic during and after pregnancy. The study will be conducted by researchers in the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network, a group of 12 U.S. clinical centers funded in part by the NIH.
Resources to Consult
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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