COVID-19 UPDATE #111
December 9, 2020
COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM: WHAT WE KNOW TODAY | DECEMBER 9
Events on the vaccination front continue to move quickly and information changes hourly. Based upon our interactions with AHCA, the CDC, and the Washington State Department of Health, here is what we know as of Wednesday afternoon, December 9, 2020.

Last Friday, December 3, we provided you with what was then up-to-date information (December 3, 2020) on the rollout of the state’s vaccination program. Today, what we know for sure right now is that in Washington State the first phase of vaccination, called 1a, will focus on workers in healthcare settings serving patients who either have confirmed or suspected COVID-19, along with staff and residents of long term care facilities. We’ll know more about who will be vaccinated in later phases based on input from our community engagement and decisions made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Getting vaccine to the people of Washington is a large, coordinated effort and the timeline for when all eligible people can receive the vaccine is still a work in progress for the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
AMENDED DEAR PROVIDER LETTER UPDATES INFORMATION ON COVID-ONLY FACILITIES
In a Dear Provider letter dated December 8, 2020, all providers are given updated information previously conveyed in a May 4, 2020, Dear Provider letter on COVID-only facilities. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has contracted with multiple nursing facilities to establish dedicated units to care for residents with a confirmed COVID-19+ diagnosis. The intent of establishing these units is to allow COVID-19+ residents from other residential care or acute care settings to temporarily transfer to a setting where they can receive appropriate care in an environment where there will be less risk of COVID-19+ virus transmission to other residents and staff.

The key updates in the December 8 letter are program contact information, a link to the current list of contracted nursing facilities (which will continue to be updated), and instruction that admissions can occur directly between long term care providers and contracted COVID Unit nursing facilities. You will also find a link to CMS COVID-19 Blanket Waivers for Healthcare Providers in the letter. As stated in the letter, if you have questions about the program, you can email Stephanie VanPelt.
WEBINAR TOMORROW: PREPARING FOR COVID-19 VACCINE CLINICS
The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) is offering a webinar tomorrow, December 10, at 1 PM PST to share information about the upcoming vaccine clinics starting soon. The AHCA/NCAL webinar will walk you through how to get ready and promote high vaccination rates in your building.

The webinar is open to everyone. Registration is required, but lines are limited. This webinar will be recorded and made available if you are not able to join live.
CMS ISSUES NEW NURSING FACILITY COVID TESTING FAQ
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released FAQs related to new guidance on testing in nursing facilities. The FAQs address long-standing questions posed from providers on various issues including false negatives with point-of-care antigen tests, triggering of outbreak status, testing of emergency medical personnel, and clarification on turnaround time for tests. 
PROJECT ECHO WEBINAR ON ANTIBODY TREATMENTS
On Thursday, December 10, from 11:30 AM to 1 PM PST, Project ECHO COVID-19 Global Learning Conversations is offering a webinar on antibody treatments. Monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment has been authorized by the USFDA for emergency use application for COVID-19 patients. This session will provide an overview of the results of recent clinical trials, updates on treatment efficacy, and lessons learned from clinical administration in outpatient and long term care settings. Register here.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
WHCA continues to post resources and information as it becomes available on our website. If you have questions or need additional information, please call the WHCA office at (800) 562-6170.