COVID-19 Update
January 6, 2022
Vaccination Mandate Comparison Chart
The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) published a handy Comparison of Vaccination Regulations chart. The chart addresses the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Interim Final Rule (IFR) on vaccination, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) and the New York City-specific vaccination requirements. 
OSHA Healthcare ETS Expires
The OSHA Healthcare ETS expired on December 21, 2021. This ETS is different than the OSHA Vaccination and Testing ETS. OSHA had until December 21 to adopt the temporary standard as permanent. Failing to do so, the temporary standard has expired and our programs are no longer subject to compliance with it. 
We covered the OSHA Healthcare ETS and its applicability in our June 15, 2021 COVID-19 Update. Please see that update for additional details.
OSHA is retaining some of the requirements of the Healthcare ETS, as some of the standards are governed by a separate OSH ACT. Specifically, the record keeping and reporting requirements remain in effect. For your reference we have captured them here

Programs that were subject to the Healthcare ETS were not subject to the New York Hero Act, as only one standard had to be followed at a time. With the expiration of the Healthcare ETS, those programs that were subject to the rule now must comply with the provisions of the HERO Act. We covered the HERO Act in our September 9, 2021 COVID-19 Update. As a reminder, the New York State Commissioner of Health designated COVID-19 as a serious risk of harm to the public health on December 15, 2021. This designation will continue until January 15, 2022, at which time a determination will be made on continuing the status. While this determination is in effect, all employers subject to the HERO Act requirements must implement them.  

OSHA's announcement of the expiration of the ETS can be read here. 

OPWDD Guidance on CMS IFR Vaccination Mandate
As we have been discussing during our weekly calls, the CMS vaccine mandate was challenged in court. As of December 15, 2021, the injunction that barred enforcement of the CMS rule was lifted for New York. On December 28, 2021, CMS announced new timeframes to be used by regulatory surveyors evaluating compliance with the CMS rule. OPWDD published updated guidance on the CMS vaccine mandate. Most notably, the guidance includes a section on the timing of compliance with the rule. The first date that Chapters should be aware of is January 27, 2022, by which all covered employers must develop and implement policies addressing staff vaccination at covered facilities. Please see the guidance for additional details on the specifics regarding policy and procedure content.

OPWDD Guidance on OSHA Vaccination ETS
OPWDD also published guidance on the OSHA Vaccination ETS in response to the recent court decisions that reinstituted the OSHA Vaccination ETS. Most importantly, the first date of compliance is this coming Monday, January 10, by which Chapters will need to have a policy and procedures in place.

To assist Chapters in development of policy, we have pulled the relevant regulations. Chapters will need to be familiar with these, as they not only are the source material for the standard, but are also referenced in the guidance as relevant to the development of a provider’s policy.

The following regulations are also relevant to the development of a policy that must be made known to the subject employees:

(iv) You must not discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee for reporting a work-related injury or illness

(g) Whoever knowingly makes any false statement, representation, or certification in any application, record, report, plan, or other document filed or required to be maintained pursuant to this Act shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment for not more than six months, or by both.

From Title 18-Crimes and Criminal Procedure
CHAPTER 47-Fraud and False Statements

OPWDD Revised Protocols for Direct Care Staff to Return to Work
In response to the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated recommendations on isolation and quarantine duration, OPWDD published revised protocols for direct care staff to return to work. The revisions largely bring the protocols in line with the CDC recommendations. Chapters will need to review and revise their policies and procedures accordingly.

NYS DOH Interim Updated Isolation and Quarantine Guidance
Following the CDC updated recommendations for a reduced period of isolation and quarantine, the New York State Department of Health has published Interim Updated Isolation and Quarantine Guidance.

This and all related updates will be cataloged on The Arc New York COVID-19 Resource Page for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.
CONTACT: Josh Christiana, Director for Quality, Compliance & Chapter Relations
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