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December 16, 2020


SNF Testing Schedule Out. At about 10:00 p.m. yesterday, the Department of Aging (ODA) sent out a notice about the SNF testing schedule for December 21, 2020, to January 15, 2021. Instead of a link to the entire schedule for all facilities in a pdf, the message linked to the ODA schedule utility, where you can search for your facility. The utility now includes both SNFs and assisted living communities, although the assisted living schedule has not been updated beyond the end of 2020. The message from ODA included an attachment that points out enhancements to the utility. The text of the message read:

The next test schedule for December 21, 2020 through January 15, 2021 is available by viewing here, including lab assignments as they may have changed (see attached).

The “courier date” identified in the test schedule is the date in which specimens will be couriered to the reserved lab. Please ensure that all collected specimens are packaged correctly and stored in a refrigerator until the courier arrives, which will be no earlier than 12pm.  If courier does not contact the facility by 4pm on the “courier date”, notify COVIDTesting@age.ohio.gov immediately.  The courier will not pick up specimens for facilities assigned to MAKO Medical as they will ship specimens directly via FedEx.

No PCR specimens are planned for collection and courier services on December 24, 2020, December 25, 2020, December 31, 2020, and January 1, 2021 so that all can enjoy their holidays.

Lastly, the test schedule is reflective of the testing option selected by your facility which provides supplies in alignment with the testing option below.  See chart below.

Testing Option

Supplies Provided

Antigen Only*

4 Antigen/staff to test routinely and antigen supplies for outbreak testing of residents

PCR Only

4 PCR/staff to routinely test and 4 PCR/residents for outbreak testing needs (test on same day)

Alternating PCR & Antigen*

2 PCR and 6 antigen/staff to routinely test and antigen supplies to test residents for outbreak testing needs

*A partial shipment of antigen supplies will be supplemented after consideration of HHS direct allocations to facilities.

Continue to visit our website to obtain resources surrounding the state-supported testing program.

Reach out to COVIDTesting@age.ohio.gov with questions.  

PRF Phase 3 Payments Begin. Providers who applied and qualified for payments under the Phase 3 General Distribution of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Provider Relief Fund (PRF) began to receive payments this morning. Later, HHS posted an announcement about the payments. According to HHS, they eventually will total $24.5 billion across the country, with disbursements going to over 70,000 providers. Approximately 35,000 who applied were determined ineligible. Eligibility is based first on applying and second on whether the provider's lost revenue and increased expenses in the first half of 2020 exceeded previous funding they received. According to HHS, each eligible provider will receive 88% of the difference. Not all providers received payments today. HHS stated in the release that they will continue to make payments through January 2021. According to AHCA/NCAL's Scott Tittle, the first round of payments will cover about half of the eligible providers.

Vaccine News. Many more members reported receiving COVID-19 vaccine clinic dates today from their partner pharmacies. In a stakeholder meeting, the Department of Health's (ODH's) Lance Himes said there is a Part A and a Part B to the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care. Part A consists of SNFs, Part B consists of all other congregate facilities included in the Partnership. Late today, we received from ODH lists of the congregate settings that are in the Partnership and those that are not. If you need to find out if your facility is in or out, please contact Pete Van Runkle.

According to Mr. Himes, the Part A facilities are being scheduled for clinics now, using the first 88,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. This fits with the fact that members who reported to us getting clinic dates were SNFs, while on our ID/DD and assisted living member calls today, no one said they had been scheduled. Any remaining Part A centers and many in Part B should be covered in the second shipment of Pfizer vaccine, around 70,000 doses that the state expects next week. Others in Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution, including most facilities not in the Pharmacy Partnership, are to turn to their local health department for vaccination. We anticipate local health departments will start to get Moderna vaccine next week, assuming it is approved. Moderna's application for Emergency Use Authorization goes before the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee tomorrow. You can view Moderna's briefing document here.

Overall Cases Down Today; Weekly LTC Totals Up. Ohio reported 5,409 new COVID-19 cases today, considerably below recent levels, but apparently there were technical difficulties that prevented full reporting. Hospitalizations also dropped off somewhat from yesterday's record high. In long-term care, however, the ODH dashboard reported another record number of cases, 8,426, for the past week. 5,155 of these were residents. The 286 reported COVID-19 related deaths associated with long-term care were 74 more than last week.

Still Unable to Connect with NHSN on SAMS 3? We are Here to Help. If you are still having difficulty connecting with the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) to obtain your Secure Access Management System (SAMS) Level 3 grid card, OHCA together with AHCA/NCAL is now in a position to help. The most frequent issue members report is not hearing anything back from NHSN after emailing nhsn@cdc.gov requesting “Enhancing Data Security.” According to AHCA/NCAL, the problem with not hearing anything back appears to be centered around the SAMS Level 3 Access Invite not being sent to the right person, the link expiring, or the email itself getting stuck in the individual’s spam/junk folder. NHSN still encourages all providers who submit a request for enhanced data security first to check their spam folder to see if they can find an email from SAMS-no-reply@cdc.gov with the subject line “SAMS Partner Portal—Identify Verification Request.” Please allow 7-9 days to receive a reply. However, if you follow these instructions and still do not receive the SAMS Level 3 Access Invite email, please email your facility name to Diane Dietz at ddietz@ohca.org. Within the email, please indicate who requested the enhanced data security and to whom (the name and email) you wish the SAMS Level 3 Access Invite to be sent. AHCA will forward that information on to a key contact within NHSN so the SAMS Level 3 Access Invite email can be sent directly.