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January 4, 2021

State Round Tables to Encourage Long-Term Care Staff to Take COVID-19 Vaccine. Unfortunately, the hottest story of the day is the low percentage of facility staff participating in the vaccination clinics conducted so far. Some providers have had success with staff vaccinations, and staff concerns simply mirror those of the general public. Nonetheless, the general expectation is because long-term care has borne the brunt of COVID-19 and is at the head of the line for vaccinations, staff members would be eager to be immunized. As we reported previously, the low proportion of staff taking the vaccine drew the attention of Governor Mike DeWine and his Administration. In an effort to increase the uptake rate, the Administration scheduled nine vaccine round tables specifically targeted at long-term care facility staff: three each tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday at 8:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. Please see this flyer for more information and for registration links. The information also went out via the Enhanced Information Dissemination and Collection system (EIDC).

Vaccine Fireside Chat Recording Available. On a related note, last week, AHCA/NCAL, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a video "fireside chat" in which physicians from each organization addressed concerns staff members may have about the vaccine. A recording of the program now is posted at this link. You will need to use the following passcode: vC9!zPQ. (please note the concluding period is part of the passcode).

Latest CMS Positivity Ratings: More Counties Open for SNF Visitation. Another hot topic is when Ohio long-term care facilities will reopen for family visits to residents, outside of compassionate care visits that were required all along. For SNFs, the issue is controlled by a CMS directive that requires in-person visitation in SNFs located in counties with low or moderate COVID-19 positivity levels (green or yellow) and, according to the prevailing Health Department (ODH) interpretation, prohibits it in counties with high positivity (red). In addition, visitation turns on whether or not the facility had new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. Today, CMS released its latest positivity ratings for counties across the country. The Ohio table lists the following counties as yellow, meaning in the absence of a current outbreak, SNFs in those counties must allow visitation beyond compassionate care: Adams, Ashland, Ashtabula, Carroll, Clinton, Hardin, Harrison, Henry, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Knox, Lawrence, Logan, Madison, Mahoning, Meigs, Miami, Monroe, Morgan, Morrow, Noble, Paulding, Perry, Pike, Preble, Putnam, Seneca, Shelby, Tuscarawas, Van Wert, Vinton, and Wyandot. Most of these counties are yellow because they are rural, not because they have positivity rates below 10%.

Cuyhoga County Vaccine Scheduling Link. ODH guidelines prioritize Phase 1A providers who are not a part of the Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care, such as home health, hospice, and some DD providers, for COVID-19 vaccination by their local health departments. Each local health department is responsible for developing an outreach approach for these providers. Cuyahoga County, for example, created a vaccination scheduling application. We encourage members who have not done so already to reach out to their local health departments to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations for their staff. As a reminder, Ohioans in the community over the age of 65, including home-bound individuals and those receiving home and community-based services, will be vaccinated in phase 1B. OHCA will continue to monitor updates on Phase 1B vaccine distribution for information relevant to people our members serve.

Monoclonal Antibody Education Session January 6. Now that long-term services and supports providers have access to monoclonal antibodies, you may have questions about using this treatment and how it may relate to vaccine administration. On Wednesday January 6 at 2:00 p.m., the University of New Mexico’s Project ECHO will host a free mini-series program addressing common questions and concerns about monoclonal antibody treatments. The program will include:

  • Preliminary analysis of the first 1,500 patients who received treatment in Michigan.
  • Discussion of how monoclonal antibodies fit in with the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in SNFs.
  • An opportunity to ask questions of a panel of experts, including representatives from CDC, AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, and providers currently utilizing the treatment.

For registration and connection information, click here.

Vaccine Provider Frequently-Asked Questions. ODH circulated a set of frequently-asked questions for COVID-19 vaccine providers addressing requesting vaccine allocations, vaccination reporting, and other matters. While this information is relevant mainly to vaccine providers, we encourage members to enroll as providers so they are prepared to administer vaccinations in the future.