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COVID-19 Update: Monday, February 22

The following is the latest COVID-19 information from the federal and state government as of 4:30 p.m. on Monday, February 22.

Pennsylvania Update

Governor Wolf

Governor Wolf has renewed his declaration of a state of emergency in Pennsylvania because of COVID-19.  See the announcement of the renewal and the renewal declaration itself, which covers a period of 90 days.

Department of Health – by the numbers

  • The number of new daily cases continues to decline
  • In the past week the number of COVID-19 deaths has fallen significantly.
  • More than 24,000 health care workers in Pennsylvania have contracted COVID-19, as have nearly 79,000 residents and employees of long-term-care facilities across the state.  The continual increase in these numbers since the start of the pandemic has slowed considerably.
  • For the week from February 12 through February 18 the state’s overall COVID-19 test positivity rate fell to 6.5 percent; it was 8.0 percent the week before that.  This marked the ninth consecutive week the rate fell.
  • The number of Pennsylvanians hospitalized with COVID-19 is just 60 percent of what it was at the beginning of February; the number in hospital ICUs is 64 percent of what it was at the beginning of the month; and the number on ventilators is 57 percent of what it was three weeks ago.
  • Currently, 24 percent of adult ICU beds in the state are unoccupied, as are 21 percent of medical/surgical beds, nine percent of pediatric ICU beds, 32 percent of pediatric beds, and 40 percent of airborne isolation units.
  • As of February 22 the state’s vaccine dashboard shows that 916,000 Pennsylvanians have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 541,000 have received both doses of vaccine.  These numbers do not include Philadelphia, which operates its own COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • The vaccine dashboard shows vaccine totals by county.

Department of Human Services

DHS has posted a COVID-19 vaccine FAQ.

Department of State

The Department of State has authorized licensed pharmacists to delegate authority to administer COVID-19 vaccines to other licensed health care practitioners whose scope of practice includes the administration of injectable vaccines, such as LPNs, RNs, physicians, and physician assistants.  Under ordinary circumstances pharmacists may only oversee other pharmacists and pharmacy interns involved in providing immunizations and may not delegate the task of immunization.  This waiver applies solely to COVID-19 vaccines and lasts only for the duration of the governor’s disaster emergency declaration plus an additional 90 days thereafter, unless terminated sooner.

General Assembly

Efforts are under way in the state legislature to introduce bills creating a system of centralized registration for COVID-19 vaccines in Pennsylvania.  Learn more from memos seeking co-sponsors for such legislation that are currently circulating in the state House and the state Senate.

Around the State

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

FAQ

Federal Update

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

  • CMS has updated its FAQ on Medicare COVID-19 billing issues with 13 new questions addressing vaccines, monoclonal antibody treatments, and ambulatory surgery centers functioning as acute-care hospitals during the public health emergency.  The questions, all labeled “2/19/2021,” can be found on pages 27-28, 135-137, and 152-153.

Department of Health and Human Services

  • HHS has updated its Provider Relief Fund FAQ with an updated question about how applicants should set up an account of behalf of multiple subsidiaries as part of applying for a Phase 3 distribution.  Find the updated question on page 42.

HHS and CMS COVID-19 Stakeholder Calls

HHS Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice

HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response sponsors COVID-19 Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice that are interactive virtual learning sessions that seek to create a peer-to-peer learning network in which clinicians from the U.S. and abroad who have experience treating patients with COVID-19 share their challenges and successes.  These webinar topics are covered every week:

  • EMS:  Patient Care and Operations (Mondays, 12:00-1:00 PM eastern)
  • Critical Care:  Lifesaving Treatment and Clinical Operations (Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 PM eastern)
  • Emergency Department:  Patient Care and Clinical Operations (Thursdays, 12:00-1:00 PM eastern)

Go here for information about signing up to participate in the sessions and go here for access to materials and video recordings of past sessions.

CMS Stakeholder Calls

CMS hosts recurring stakeholder engagement sessions to share information about the agency’s 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 participants an opportunity to ask questions of CMS and other subject matter experts.

CMS COVID-19 Office Hours Calls

Tuesday, February 23 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM (eastern)

Toll Free Attendee Dial In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:  2528725

Tuesday, March 16 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM (eastern)

Toll Free Attendee Dial In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:  4177586

Audio Webcast link:  go here

Tuesday, April 6 at 5:00 – 6:00 PM (eastern)

Toll Free Attendee Dial In:  833-614-0820; Access Passcode:  2769397

Audio Webcast link:  go here

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Food and Drug Administration

 

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