Elevating the Post-Acute and
Long Term Care Profession

June 17, 2021

Governor Announces Rescission of Visitation Orders; State Webinars Postponed. The mystery subject matter of the state's upcoming webinars for assisted living communities and SNFs was at least partially solved today. Governor Mike DeWine announced during the Vax-a-Million drawing that he is terminating the state emergency declaration and Director of Health Stephanie McCloud will rescind the two health orders affecting facility visitation. The state orders conflict in various ways with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) visitation guidelines, creating confusion for providers and families. Governor DeWine highlighted two of those areas in his comments, the orders' requirement to schedule visits and the limit of two visitors at a time. Another key conflict that has been irksome to members is the escorting requirement, which also does not appear in federal guidance and also will go away.

Unfortunately, however, the Governor made it clear that the testing orders will not be rescinded, despite their significant conflict with CMS and CDC guidance on testing unvaccinated staff. The state orders mandate testing unaccinated staff twice a week, while the federal guidance varies the testing frequency based on the county positivity rating. As always, we remind members that the Health Department's (ODH's) survey arm will not cite either SNFs or residential care facilities for following the federal testing guidelines instead of the state orders. On a related note, today the House Government Oversight Committee held its first hearing on House Concurrent Resolution 21, which would rescind the testing orders and other health orders that still stand. As of June 23, the legislature would be able to adopt the concurrent resolution, as that is the date Senate Bill (SB) 22 takes effect. SB 22 authorizes the legislature to override health and other agency orders.

Speaking of the Department of Aging webinars scheduled for tomorrow, they are being posptoned because this evening, Governor DeWine announced that the new federal Juneteenth holiday will be observed tomorrow. As a result, state employees will be off work. Director of Aging Ursel McElroy informed us that tomorrow's webinars will be postponed. The times next Tuesday (8:00 a.m. for assisted living and 2:00 p.m. for SNFs) remain in place for now. Director McElroy said the webinars will cover a number of other topics beside the visitation order rescission.

Long-Term Care COVID-19 Cases Below 200. This week's ODH long-term care dashboard shows more good news, with only 168 current cases in all of the state's SNFs, ICFs/IID, and assisted living communities. This number is again a new low since the beginning days of the pandemic. There were 83 resident cases and 85 staff cases reported for the week ending Tuesday. The totals for the pandemic now stand at 51,398 resident and 38,146 staff infections, with 7,536 deaths.

Get Your Questions About the Vaccine Answered at the #GetVaccinated Virtual Townhall (from AHCA/NCAL). Still not sure about getting the COVID-19 vaccine? AHCA/NCAL will hold a virtual townhall event for long term care staff on Tuesday, June 22, 2021, from 4:30pm ET to 5:30pm ET as part of its nationwide #GetVaccinated campaign.  

The COVID-19 vaccines have made a tremendous impact on the long term care sector, as cases and deaths have dropped to historic lows. Although we have come a long way, we know there is more work to do to improve vaccine confidence.   

AHCA/NCAL is committed to ensuring that all long term care staff are equipped with the with the facts so they can make an informed decision. The virtual townhall will feature a panel of trusted medical professionals, including AHCA/NCAL Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Gifford, who will discuss the importance and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines, and answer questions from attendees. Also hear directly from frontline caregivers in long term care about their experience. 

The event is open to all staff and is free to attend. Click HERE to register. It will also be livestreamed on AHCA/NCAL’s Facebook page.  

If you’re already vaccinated, you can still participate! Tell us in the chat about your experience and why you decided to #GetVaccinated. Or share your story through the #GetVaccinated website. If you have colleagues who have yet to get vaccinated, encourage them to attend!  

AHCA/NCAL’s #GetVaccinated campaign is funded in part by a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help educate and encourage caregivers and staff at long term care facilities to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Visit www.getvaccinated.us for more information.