Elevating the Post-Acute and
Long Term Care Profession

June 7, 2021

Positivity Inches Up. This week's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) positivity numbers reversed the trend of weekly improvement, as seven Ohio counties went from green to yellow. In addition, three rural counties (Harrison, Lawrence, and Monroe) have positivity percentages about 10%, but CMS designates them as yellow because they have too few COVID-19 tests to be considered red. In addition, Holmes and Mercer Counties are above 8% positivity. This week's changes are:

  • Belmont County: green to yellow.
  • Champaign County : green to yellow.
  • Jefferson County: yellow to green.
  • Mercer County: green to yellow.
  • Miami County: green to yellow.
  • Monroe County: green to yellow.
  • Scioto County: green to yellow.
  • Van Wert County: green to yellow.
This movement was in spite of the fact that on Saturday, the state reached Governor Mike DeWine's goal of a daily average of fewer than 50 new cases per 100,000 population over the previous two weeks. Today's total daily case number was 255, with the three-week average sitting at 632.

First New Alzheimer's Drug Approved Since 2003. Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval (not an Emergency Use Authorization) for Aduhelm (aducanumab), a treatment for early-stage Alzheimer's Disease. FDA approved the medication, which is an intravenous infusion given every four weeks, despite the opposition of its Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee in November 2020 because of different opinions about the drug's effectiveness. Aduhelm is intended to slow the disease progression, not to improve cognition. The Alzheimer's Association supported approval.

IPRO Message About NHSN Access. Several OHCA members reported receiving an email from Danyce Seney at IPRO asking about access to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). The message, which has a subject line of "contact info for NHSN," reads in its entirety, "CMS has requested that IPRO obtain the name and email addresses of facility administrator and DONs’ in effort to provide access to NHSN and SAMs. If you would kindly respond to me via email with the requested information it would be appreciated." Upon our inquiry, Ms. Seney was unable to explain the reason for the message, other than it was requested by CMS. Like other requests from IPRO, this one is voluntary.

More on EEOC Vaccination Guidance. Last week, we carried an article in COVID-19 Update about new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission frequently-asked questions about treatment of vaccinated and unvaccinated employees. One of the answers stated, "[t]he [Americans with Disabilities Act] requires an employer to maintain the confidentiality of employee medical information, such as documentation or other confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination." This guidance appeared to conflict with CMS and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines that allow fully vaccinated health care personnel some additional freedom compared to unvaccinated employees, which would require health care employers to distinguish between the two groups of employees in a fairly obvious way (i.e., being able to gather with other fully vaccinated staff without masks/distancing). Today, AHCA/NCAL's Rae Anne Davis explained that there is a difference between disclosing a person's vaccine status, as contemplated by CMS and CDC, and disclosing their medical documentation (that is, the actual record of their vaccination or a medical reason for not being vaccinated). Under this interpretation, members may continue to make practical distinctions between vaccinated and unvaccinated staff.

Governor Issues Urgent Appeal on Johnson & Johnson Vaccine. Today, Governor DeWine issued a press release asking vaccine providers to administer 200,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that the state has in stock. These doses are set to expire June 23. Remember that as of today, all enrolled vaccine providers, including those in long-term services and supports, can order vaccine through the state's Vaccine Ordering Management System (VOMS). See this Health Department document for ordering instructions. Johnson & Johnson can be ordered in minimum lot sizes of 100.

Complete the Survey: How Is Your LTC Organization Doing in 2021? (from AHCA/NCAL). AHCA/NCAL is asking providers (SNF, AL, ID/DD) to complete a 15-minute survey to gauge how the industry is faring in 2021. Providers will be asked about several topics, including workforce, vaccines, personal protective equipment, and finances. You may download a copy of the questionnaire if you wish to gather the necessary information before filling it out online. 

Your participation will help AHCA/NCAL address questions from policymakers and advocate for ongoing resources to the profession. Please complete the survey by the end of the day on Friday, June 11.  

New Provider Resources from AHCA/NCAL. The national association released two new resource items today, a personal protective equipment (PPE) action brief and a COVID-19 after-action report and improvement plan template.

  • PPE action brief. This document details PPE requirements in different circumstances, as specified in CDC guidelines.
  • After-action template (Word download). The template helps a provider document response to the COVID-19 pandemic to comply with the CMS emergency preparedness requirement, as a substitute for an annual, full-scale exercise.