COVID-19 Update: Friday, September 11

The following is the latest coronavirus information from the state and federal governments as of 1:30 p.m. on Friday, September 11.

Pennsylvania State Government

Department of State

The Department of State has suspended the initial medical history and physical examination required for prescribing buprenorphine via telemedicine to treat opioid use disorder for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster declaration.

Department of Health

The Department of Health has revised its health alert Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Known or Patients Under Investigation for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in a Healthcare Setting to add information on extended-use eye protection and to update language regarding the use of respirators.

The Department of Health has clarified that it does not need to approve a skilled nursing facility’s testing plan before it is used by the facility and providers should defer to the CMS-reported county positivity rate if there is a conflict between CMS and Department of Health data.  Learn more here.

Department of Health – by the numbers

  • This week’s joint news release from Governor Wolf and the Department of Health revealed that during the week of August 28 to September 3, the number of COVID-19 cases rose 30 percent over the previous week, the state-wide rate for positive tests rose from 3.2 percent to four percent, and community transmission was high in Columbia and Centre counties.
  • Since that time, the number of daily cases has differed significantly from day to day, from some of the state’s highest to some of its lowest numbers in the past six weeks.
  • In recent days the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania surpassed 142,000 and the number of COVID-19 deaths rose past 7800.
  • Despite this, the number of Pennsylvanians currently hospitalized with COVID-19 continues a very slow decline, as does the number of such patients breathing with the help of a ventilator.
  • The number of health care workers in the state who have contracted COVID-19 just surpassed 10,000.
  • More than 21,700 residents of long-term-care facilities and 4700 people who work in those facilities have contracted COVID-19 in 947 such facilities in 61 of the state’s 67 counties.
  • 22 percent of the beds in Pennsylvania’s acute-care hospitals are currently unoccupied, as are  26 percent of adult ICU beds, 13 percent of pediatric ICU beds, 35 percent of pediatric beds, and 42 percent of airborne isolation rooms.

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, hospitals that have changes in ownership, 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 has updated its Provider Relief Fund FAQ with one modified question marked 9/4/2020 on page 32 of the document. The revised response addresses the tax treatment by parent companies of grants awarded to subsidiaries with separate National Provider Identifiers.

American Medical Association

  • The American Medical Association has published an update of the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code set that includes two code additions for reporting medical services sparked by the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more from this AMA announcement.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has published a request for information seeking stakeholder input regarding the ability of CLIA-accredited commercial, academic, medical center, and public health laboratories to feasibly perform more COVID-19 testing if additional testing instruments were made available to them. Interested parties have ten days to submit written comments.
  • HHS has issued new guidance authorizing state-licensed pharmacists to order and administer, and state-licensed or registered pharmacy interns acting under the supervision of the qualified pharmacist to administer, COVID-19 vaccinations to persons ages three or older, subject to certain requirements. See HHS’s announcement of the new guidance and go here to see the guidance itself.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has posted the document “New COVID 19 Testing and Reporting Requirements” that collects and summarizes the latest testing, training, and data-reporting requirements for nursing homes.
  • In late August, CMS published a regulation that required nursing homes to test their staff for COVID-19; that regulation included other testing and reporting requirements as well. The frequency of such testing was to be tied to the degree of community spread of COVID-19, with the details of how that would work to be announced later.  CMS has now published the county-by-county positivity rates on which the frequency of nursing home testing will be based.  Find those rates here.
  • CMS has updated its tip sheets to help providers understand its public reporting strategy for quality programs during the COVID-19 emergency.  Find tip sheets for the following types of providers:
    • For long-term-care hospitals, here and here.
    • For skilled nursing facilities, here and here.
    • For inpatient rehabilitation faculties, here and here.
    • For home health providers, here and here.
  • CMS has published updated provider-specific fact sheets on new COVID-19-related waivers and flexibilities for home health agencies, ambulances, and durable medical equipment.

CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls

CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information related to its response to COVID-19.  These sessions are open to members of the health care community and are intended to provide updates, share best practices among peers, and offer attendees an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.

CMS COVID-19 Office Hours Call

Tuesday, September 22 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll-free attendee dial-in: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 2409459

To join call, go  here.

Lessons from the Front Lines: COVID-19

Friday, September 18 at 12:30 – 2:00 PM Eastern

Toll-free attendee dial-in: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 4446447

To join call, go  here.

Home Health and Hospice Call

Tuesday, September 22n at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll-free attendee dial-in: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 1169237
To join call, go  here.

Nursing Homes Call

Friday, September 18 at 12:30 – 2:00 PM Eastern

Toll-free attendee dial-in: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 4446447

To join call, go here.

Dialysis Organizations Call

Wednesday, September 23 at 5:30 – 6:00 PM Eastern

Toll-free attendee dial-in: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 7026727
To join call, go  here.

Thursday, September 24 at 3:00 – 3:30 PM Eastern

Toll-free attendee dial-in: 833-614-0820; Access Passcode: 5872398
To join call, go  here.

Conference lines are limited, so CMS encourages interested parties to join via audio webcast.  To listen to the audio files and read the transcripts for these and past COVID-19 Stakeholder calls, visit CMS’s Podcast and Transcripts page.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

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



Filed in Coronavirus, COVID-19, Uncategorized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


P:(717)234-6970; F:(717)234-6971
2012 Safety-Net Association of Pennsylvania