COVID-19-related developments in Pennsylvania as of 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 2. To receive this daily update directly, sign up for our mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secretary Levine’s Daily Briefing
- The number of new COVID-19 cases yesterday rose 26 percent over the previous day.
- The number of cases among health care workers rose 21 percent over yesterday and accounts for approximately five percent of all COVID-19 cases state-wide.
- Approximately 10 percent of the state’s nursing homes have at least one case.
- Growth is especially strong in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties and in northeastern Pennsylvania.
- The hospitalization rate remains about 10 percent.
- Right now, Secretary Levine said, hospitals are coping well across the state.
- Two field hospitals are being established by the federal government: one in Philadelphia and one in Montgomery County. Decisions about field hospitals are made by the federal government, not the state.
- People entering Pennsylvania from New York City are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.
- The state is aware that some pharmacies are now experiencing shortages of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for off-brand use in fighting COVID-19 and is working to ensure an adequate supply for people who use these drugs for approved uses.
Department of Human Services
During the course of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the state’s CHIP program is permitting families that are unable to provide verification of application or renewal verification the ability to self-attest to the information on the application and to enroll children prior to initial payments during the COVID-19 emergency. Families are still responsible for paying premiums, coverage for those renewing will not be interrupted, and the managed care plans will still verify the information on such applications.
Department of State
- To increase the number of health care practitioners in the state to help respond to the COVID-19 emergency, the Department of State has established a procedure for the short-term licensing of osteopathic physicians and surgeons from other states and Canada. Temporary licenses would expire at the end of the current public health emergency.
- The Department of State has extended upcoming deadlines for charitable organizations to register to be able to renew their ability to solicit donations. Deadlines currently scheduled for the end of May, June, and July have all been extended three months.
Pennsylvania tax revenues were $294.6 million short of official estimates in March, or 6.2 percent, according to figures released Wednesday by the Department of Revenue. This is the first glimpse of the fiscal challenge the state will face in the coming months as a result of COVID-19. Total General Fund revenues for the year are now $45.6 million, or 0.2 percent, below estimate. It is worth noting that March is traditionally the largest revenue month during the fiscal year. In addition to the potential for lost revenue over the next few months, the extension of filing deadlines for personal income tax will shift a significant amount of revenue to the next fiscal year.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The CDC has published official and detailed ICD-10-CM coding and reporting guidelines for COVID-19 and COVID-19-related medical problems. These instructions took effect on April 1 and extend through September 30.
- The CDC has published guidance on the decontamination and reuse of filtering facepiece respirators using contingency and crisis capacity strategies.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
- CMS has been hosting regular calls with a variety of clinicians, hospitals, other facilities, and states in an effort to keep stakeholders updated on our COVID-19 efforts. Those who cannot participate when they are held can find podcasts and transcripts of those calls to listen to or read at their convenience.
- See an updated list of the section 1135 waivers CMS has granted to help states and health care providers respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Today CMS published an informational bulletin authorizing the use of telehealth for the delivery of Medicaid-covered services and treatment for substance use disorders. This bulletin covers two areas: 1) rural health care and Medicaid telehealth flexibilities and 2) Medicaid substance use disorder treatment via telehealth.
Department of Health and Human Services
The department’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will be spending $7.5 million to evaluate health system response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is divided into two pools: $5 million to evaluate innovations and challenges in rapidly expanding telehealth in response to COVID-19 and $2.5 million to active agency grant recipients and cooperative agreements.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
- FEMA has published a fact sheet on COVID-19 emergency medical care that includes a list of eligible medical care activities that may be eligible for some reimbursement under the agency’s public assistance program. Among other things, the fact sheet summarizes the types of applicants that may be eligible for assistance and the types of costs that may be reimbursable.
- Another FEMA fact sheet describes public assistance that may be available to certain non-profit organizations for COVID-19-related costs.
Food and Drug Administration
For researchers, the FDA has developed quality-controlled reference sequence data for the SARS-CoV-2 reference strain in the U.S.
Department of Labor
The Department of Labor has published a temporary rule describing the benefits under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both of which were part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which was signed into law on March 18. The law reimburses private employers with fewer than 500 employees with tax credits for the cost of providing employees with paid leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19. The law enables employers to keep their workers on their payrolls while also ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and public health measures. For more, see a Department of Labor news release describing the new temporary rule and view the rule itself here.
Resources to Consult
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
Pennsylvania Department of Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention