COVID-19 Briefs for February 1, 2021

Public Health Emergency to Continue Throughout 2021: According to a letter here from the Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the nation’s Governors, the Public Health Emergency (PHE) is likely to last through this year.

The letter states that when a decision is made to terminate the declaration or let it expire, HHS will provide states with 60 days’ notice prior to termination.

Under the PHE, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has granted regulatory relief to home health and hospices in many areas, including home health homebound status, use of telehealth, assessments, supervision and in-service training.

Please see HCA’s COVID-19 resource page for a summary of all relief and waiver measures for state and federal regulations.

DOH Updates Vaccine Redistribution Guidance

The state Department of Health (DOH) has updated its Vaccination Program Redistribution guidance. This is the process by which vaccine is physically moved and possession is transferred from the enrolled provider that first received it to another enrolled provider, who will store and administer the doses.

Some important points include:

  • The facility that is redistributing the vaccine must have a signed CDC Redistribution Agreement, as well as a completed DOH “Request to Redistribute Vaccine Between Locations” that has been approved by DOH after submission to
  • The facility must maintain all redistribution records as indicated in the agreement.
  • The provider site receiving the vaccine from the provider site redistributing it must be enrolled as a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider.

Other DOH Guidance on Who Can Administer Vaccine and Vaccine ‘Planning’ Requests

DOH has posted guidance on who can administer COVID-19 vaccinations, along with training requirements. These include RNs, LPNs under the supervision of an RN, LPNs without RN supervision at a point of dispensing (POD) site, EMS providers, and others.

DOH has also released guidance on the process of submitting weekly “planning” requests for the COVID-19 vaccine through the New York State Immunization Information System.

CMS Guidance for Managed Care

CMS has updated its “Toolkit on COVID-19 Vaccine: Health Insurance Issuers and Medicare Advantage Plans.”

New OSHA Guidance

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance that includes recommendations as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards which are intended to assist employers in providing a safe and healthful workplace.

In summary, employers should assess the hazards to which their workers may be exposed; evaluate the risk of exposure; and select, implement, and ensure workers use controls to prevent exposure. The guidance includes a table with examples of health care work tasks associated with the exposure risk levels in OSHA’s occupational exposure risk pyramid.

DOH Education on Stress and COVID-19

The state Department of Health offers a program on “How Long Has Your ‘Check Engine’ Light Been On? Enhancing Your Understanding of Yourself and Stress During COVID-19.”

A recording is available from the Learning Management System (requires registration).

The handouts are here.

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