Elevating the Post-Acute and
Long Term Care Profession

April 5, 2021

Latest CMS Positivity Rates. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new county-specific positivity rates today. The Ohio table is more or less stable from last week. Jefferson County went red, as its positivity crept up to 10.2%, joining Belmont, Butler, Clermont, Licking, Portage, Stark, and Summit Counties. Six counties moved from green to yellow: Adams, Gallia, Logan, Lorain, Marion, and Trumbull. On the other hand, Coshocton, Holmes, Lawrence, Morrow, and Washington Counties went the opposite direction. Statewide, the Health Department (ODH) reported a daily case total of 2,918, with 139 hospitalizations and 12 intensive care unit admissions, but the dashboard notes that these figures are for two days, yesterday and today.

Testing Schedule Available. You probably already are aware of this, but after some technology issues on Friday, the Department of Aging posted COVID-19 testing schedule for both assisted living communities and SNFs by Saturday. The schedule runs from this coming Monday, April 12, to May 7, 2021. It reflects the testing frequencies established by the new ODH orders, which differ for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated staff members.

Promoting SNF Vaccination Reporting (from AHCA/NCAL). Long term care facilities can track weekly COVID-19 vaccination data for health care personnel and residents through the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). The modules are located under the Long-Term Care Facilities section titled Surveillance for HCP & Resident COVID-19 Vaccination.    

Attached (Excel download) is a list of all the skilled nursing facilities in Ohio who have not reported any COVID-19 vaccination data to NHSN in the four reporting weeks of February 22 - March 21.  These data were generated Wednesday morning (March 24) so a facility could have reported between now and then.  

This reporting is important for three key reasons. First, it provides facilities the ability to effectively track their own uptake rates, which now links to CMS’ revised visitation guidance. Second, it is important to provide this information to the CDC so they can track the effectiveness of the vaccines in long term care, which is necessary for any further easing of restrictions, such as testing or PPE. Finally, there is a growing push for mandatory reporting of vaccine uptake rates in nursing homes, so this reporting module will likely be required in the near future.  

If you have questions on reporting to the vaccine module in NHSN, please contact covid19@ahca.org. For questions on the dataset, please contact research@ahca.org

ECHO Office Hours to Continue. For those of you who participated in one of the OHCA Project ECHO cohorts, we finally heard that the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality approved the 36 weeks of office hours that make up the second part of the project. OHCA hosted the office hours for the last couple of weeks while awaiting the approval. ECHO office hours give facilities that participated in the first part of the project an opportunity to receive weekly COVID-19-related updates and to ask questions. These sessions are optional and do not carry continuing education credit or reimbursement. We will provide additional details as we learn them. Also, OHCA will discuss with other Ohio ECHO hubs the possibility of holding office hours for their cohorts.

Vaccine News. The Food and Drug Administration recently revised the Emergency Use Authorization for the Moderna vaccine to allow drawing 11 doses from a vial and also to authorize a 15-dose vial. Meanwhile, Pfizer/BioNTech announced that their vaccine is safe and effective for at least six months, with a 91.3% efficacy against COVID-19 and 95-100% against severe disease, depending on which definition is used. The six-month period should not be interpreted as an end point, it is all that can be determined so far. According to ODH, this week's allocation of vaccine to the state is up from 375,000 doses last week to 449,000 this week because of more Janssen shots. This does not count allocations to the federal mass vaccination site in Cleveland or the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

Governor Announces Consolidated COVID-19 Order. Governor Mike DeWine today announced that a number of state health orders were consolidated into a single order. The previous orders were rescinded. While the new combined order covers a number of topics, including mask-wearing, distancing, gatherings, and various public-facing businesses and events, it does not directly affect health care, other than the activities of health care personnel in their private lives.

AHCA/NCAL Follow-Up on OSHA NEP. AHCA/NCAL reported today that more than 1,000 members participated in their webinar last week on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) National Emphasis Program (NEP) focusing on employees in high-hazard industries, including long-term services and supports. AHCA/NCAL plans to schedule a second webinar to answer additional member questions. As OHCA has pointed out, OSHA has not changed or relaxed any of their standards - the NEP is about more vigorous enforcement. AHCA/NCAL provided a list of links to last week's webinar and other member resources relevant to the OSHA NEP: