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Eight Counties Red on New CMS Table. In keeping with the upward trend of COVID-19 numbers in Ohio, this week's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) table designates eight counties as red, when only two were red last week. This means that SNFs in those 8, mainly rural counties now are required to test staff twice a week. This requirement only applies to SNFs in CMS red counties, not those in red counties under the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. CMS red county status also is a reason for stopping visitation under federal guidelines, other than compassionate care visits, but it is not mandatory to stop visitation in CMS red counties.

Director of Aging Ursel McElroy explained that the number of SNFs in CMS red counties went from 30 when the testing schedule was prepared last week to 85 now. Of those 85 centers, testing supplies for 28 already went out, so the state will send another shipment to augment the initial one. The supplies for the other 57 buildings had not gone out when the new numbers arrived, so these centers will receive the correct amount in their first shipment.

Also, if you experienced an outbreak after October 14 or going forward, you would not have received supplies for testing residents. Please use your reserve supplies and email COVIDTesting@age.ohio.gov to let the state know of your outbreak. They will replenish your reserve.

Deadline This Week for Coronavirus Relief Fund. The state established this Friday, October 30, as the deadline for applying for the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). This is the state-operated COVID-19 relief effort, not to be confused with the federal Provider Relief Fund. The CRF is open to Medicaid and MyCare Ohio waiver providers (other than Department of Developmental Disabilities waiver providers, who were funded other different mechanisms), ICFs/IID, private-pay assisted living providers, and Medicaid-participating home health agencies and skilled nursing centers. There is still funding available through Friday, so if you haven't applied, please see this Office of Budget and Management web page (scroll down to "Provider Relief Payments"). The state has not yet specified reporting requirements for this fund.

Deadline This Week for Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care. Also this Friday, October 30, is the deadline for the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care. This is the Department of Health and Human Services-sponsored opportunity for facilities to register for COVID-19 vaccinations for their residents, delivered by CVS and Walgreens. If you do not register, you may need to wait longer to have your residents vaccinated. AHCA/NCAL advises that if you are considering selecting your long-term care pharmacy to deliver the vaccinations instead of CVS or Walgreens, you should make sure that your pharmacy has a signed provider agreement for this program and you should enter either CVS or Walgreens as your second choice. The Pharmacy Partnership is open to SNFs, assisted living communities, and ICFs/IID. AHCA/NCAL clarified today that independent living is eligible only if it is part of a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), not a freestanding complex.

SNFs should register through a pop-up application that appears when they log into their National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) account as if they were going to report COVID-19 case data. If you do not see the pop-up, there is a link to the registration form at the top right of the initial NHSN page. Assisted living communities, ICFs/IID, and independent living complexes that are part of a CCRC should sign up through this Redcap survey.