COVID-19 Update: Friday, September 4

The following is the latest coronavirus information from the state and federal governments as of 1:30 p.m. on Friday, September 4.

Pennsylvania Update

Independent Fiscal Office

The Independent Fiscal Office reports that Pennsylvania collected $2.55 billion in General Fund revenue for August, an increase of $355.5 million (16.2 percent) over August 2019 collections.  The IFO estimates that roughly $235 million of the $355.5 million increase was associated with extended tax due dates related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Personal income tax revenue, sales, use, and hotel occupancy revenue, and corporate net income tax revenue all exceeded estimates.  See the IFO’s full August report here.

Department of Health

The Department of Health has revised its guidance for skilled nursing facilities with a recommended testing plan for facilities not experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, safe access for compassionate care, access to the facility for resident advocates, and a revised timeline for lifting restrictions after a mitigated outbreak.  See a news release describing the new guidance and go here to see the guidance itself.

Department of Health – by the numbers

  • In the past three days the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania surpassed 135,000 and the number of COVID-19 deaths rose past 7700.
  • Thursday marked the first time since late July that the state registered more than 1000 new cases in a single day.
  • Despite this, the number of Pennsylvanians currently hospitalized with COVID-19 is, with one exception, lower than it has been since before June.
  • Fewer of these patients are on ventilators today than at any time in the past three months.
  • More than 9800 health care workers in the state have contracted COVID-19.
  • More than 21,300 residents of long-term-care facilities and 4600 people who work in those facilities have contracted COVID-19 in 942 such facilities in 61 of the state’s 67 counties.
  • 26 percent of the beds in Pennsylvania’s acute-care hospitals are currently unoccupied, as are  22 percent of adult ICU beds, 15 percent of pediatric ICU beds, 38 percent of pediatric beds, and 41 percent of airborne isolation rooms.

Department of State

Because of the challenges of finding continuing education opportunities to fulfill professional requirements during the COVID-19 emergency, the Department of State has authorized the granting of continuing education credits for nursing home administrators, physical therapists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, speech language pathologists, and audiologists who serve as poll workers in this November’s election.  See the Department of State notice here.

Federal Update

Provider Relief Fund

  • Reminder: Applications are currently open for Phase 2 general distribution funding for Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), dental providers, certain Medicare providers, and assisted living facilities.  All groups have until September 13, 2020 to submit their tax identification number for validation and apply for funding from the phase 2 general distribution.  Go here for more information.
  • HHS announced that assisted living facilities may apply for funding under the Provider Relief Fund phase 2 general distribution allocation. Go here to see HHS’s announcement.
  • HHS has announced some of the details of an upcoming $2 billion Provider Relief Fund performance-based incentive payment distribution to nursing homes. HHS will measure nursing homes against a baseline level of infection in the community where individual facilities are located.  Learn more from HHS’s announcement of this distribution.
  • HHS has updated its Provider Relief Fund FAQ with new and modified questions.
    • Changes marked 9/1/2020 can be found on pages 22, 23, 29, and 32. The new information focuses largely on the newly announced distribution for assisted living facilities, criteria for eligibility, and applying to participate in the distribution.
    • One change, marked 9/2/2020 and on page 23, describes how HHS identified assisted living facilities that are eligible to receive distributions from the Provider Relief Fund.
    • Five changes, marked 9/3/2020 and found on pages 2, 9, and 17, address HHS requests for additional financial information, how to report Provider Relief Fund grants on Medicare cost reports, and the responsibility of parent organizations to send to their subsidiaries grants intended for those subsidiaries.

Find all of these changes in the Provider Relief Fund FAQ.

American Medical Association

The American Medical Association has updated codes and guidelines for office and other outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) services. Some of the changes were introduced earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 emergency.  The AMA has recommended to CMS that it implement these changes on January 1, 2021.  Learn more in this AMA news release.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has updated the article “Quarterly Update for Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule and Laboratory Services Subject to Reasonable Charge Payment” in its online publication MLN Matters to reflect an update that includes additional COVID-19 codes. Some of those codes took effect on August 10 and others take effect on October 1.
  • CMS has updated the article “Update to the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) Diagnosis Codes for Vaping Related Disorder and Diagnosis and Procedure Codes for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)” in its online publication MLN Matters to include new procedure codes.

Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

The FDA has issued guidance to health care providers on the use of convalescent plasma for treating patients with COVID-19.

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


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Filed in COVID-19, DSH hospitals.

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2012 Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania