The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the state government as of 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 24.
Department of Health
- The Department of Health has updated its COVID-19 guidance for hospitals with clarification on testing prior to discharge to another facility and information on reporting requirements for COVID-19 outbreaks.
- The Department of Health and Department of Human Services have issued guidance on how the operations of the Regional Response Health Collaborative Program (RRHCP) will wind down as funding for the program expires on December 30, 2020. They also have posted an updated directory of RRHCP call centers.
- The Department of Health has amended reporting requirements for skilled nursing facilities. Effective December, 24, 2020, skilled nursing facilities will no longer be required to report capacity data into the CORVENA software. Daily reports into SURVEY 123 continue to be required by 8 a.m.
Department of Health – by the numbers
- After a three-day lull, Pennsylvania’s daily count of new COVID-19 cases has risen past 9000 for the past few days.
- Death counts remain as high as they have been at any time during the pandemic: more than 200 deaths a day in eight of past ten days.
- More than 18,300 health care workers in the state have contracted COVID-19.
- Currently, 12 percent of adult ICU beds in the state are unoccupied, as are 17 percent of medical/surgical beds, 20 percent of pediatric ICU beds, 41 percent of pediatric beds, and 32 percent of airborne isolation units.
Department of Human Services
DHS has issued a Medical Assistance Bulletin informing providers that it has added Current Procedural Terminology codes to the Medical Assistance program fee schedule for the administration of COVID-19 vaccines. The new codes take effect retroactive to December 1, 2020.
Department of State
The Department of State has suspended certain limits on the nursing practice limits of student nurses to permit those who have expertise in the technical details of administering vaccines to serve as technicians, separate and apart from their clinical placements but without being licensed, to administer influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, with supervision by a licensed health care practitioner. This waiver extends for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency plus an additional 90 days after the emergency ends.
The Department of State has extended an existing waiver that permits licensed professionals whose endeavors are overseen by 22 of the 29 licensing boards and commissions overseen by department’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs to continue renewing their licenses after January 1, 2021 using continuing education programs through either traditional, in-person courses or distance learning. As a result, licensees may satisfy up to 100 percent of their continuing education requirements for their next renewal with hours obtained entirely through online courses from providers of distance education that meet the applicable board’s continuing education requirements.
Around the State
- Areas of Pennsylvania that were largely spared from this spring’s COVID-19 outbreak are now feeling the pandemic’s effects, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The story highlights the situation in Blair, Mifflin, and Westmoreland counties.
- Several counties are seeing a leveling off in the number of new COVID-19 but continued increases in COVID-related deaths, according to reports in the Bucks County Courier Times, the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, and the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
- The Harrisburg area was the scene of the highest number of citations for violations of the state’s latest COVID-19 restrictions last weekend, the Carlisle Sentinel reports.
Resources to Consult
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention