COVID-19 UPDATE #117
December 21, 2020
AHCA/NCAL WEBINAR AND CMS-CDC CALL ON THE MODERNA VACCINE | TOMORROW
Tomorrow, December 22, 2020, there will be an Office Hours: What You Need to Know About the Moderna Vaccine webinar hosted by AHCA/NCAL at 11 AM PST. You can register to participate here. As well, CMS and the CDC will host a Nursing Home Stakeholder Call: Vaccination Among Residents and Staff at 10 AM PST tomorrow, December 22, 2020. You can join that call by dialing (833) 614-0820. The conference ID is 7979889.
HHS ASPR IMPLEMENTS SPEED TO ASSIST IN ALLOCATION OF MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES
Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness (HHS ASPR) implemented a federal program called Special Projects for Equitable and Efficient Distribution (SPEED) for the allocation of the COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies (mAb). SPEED is aimed at assisting states in the identification of non-hospital/non-hospital-affiliated facilities who care for and serve priority populations, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, for allocating mAb for administration to their patient population. SPEED is separate from the state-based mAb allocation system but is complementary.  

The SPEED Program includes: 
  • ​Home infusion in nursing homes and assisted living facilities 
  • ​Home infusion providers in 46 states and DC will dispense and provide nursing support for administration of mAbs to residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities 
  • Partner: National Home Infusion Association  
  • Email: info@nhia.org  
  • Website: https://www.nhia.org/news/bam-pilot-program/   

  • ​Direct allocation to long-term care pharmacies 
  • ​Long-term care pharmacies will be pre-positioned with mAbs to deploy when cases occur in nursing homes and assisted living communities served by each pharmacy 
  • Partners: American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and AMDA-The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine  
  • ​Website: https://www.ascp.com/page/mab  

To participate in the SPEED program or for more information on SPEED, contact asprstakeholder@hhs.gov​.
OSHA RELEASES RESOURCE FOR UNDERSTANDING COMPLIANCE WITH OSHA's RESPIRATORY PROTECTION STANDARD
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a new resource to help employers understand compliance with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the increased demand and shortage of PPE, particularly N-95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) and fit-testing supplies, many employers have had to utilize contingency and crisis strategies. In order to ensure adequate protection for workers during the use of contingency and crisis strategies, OSHA has issued temporary enforcement guidance to its Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs). The guidance allows the CSHOs to exercise enforcement discretion when considering issuing citations in cases where employers are unable to comply with certain provisions of the Respiratory Protection standard. This discretion is applied only when circumstances beyond the employer’s control prevent compliance with certain parts of the Respiratory Protection standard and the employer makes objectively reasonable efforts to obtain and conserve supplies.  

It is important for employers to understand that the OSHA temporary enforcement guidance does not offer blanket waivers or exemptions for complying with any OSHA standards or provisions of such standards, including the Respiratory Protection standard (e.g., annual fit-testing requirements). Non-compliance still violates the standard but the temporary enforcement guidance provides CSHOs discretion on a case-by-case basis. Each temporary enforcement guidance memorandum has specific criteria that must be followed. More information, including some of the criteria (e.g. having a Respiratory Protection Program), can be found in the new two-page resource​. ​
FDA APPROVES EMERGENCY USE AUTHORIZATION FOR MODERNA COVID-19 VACCINE
We continue to receive good news on the COVID-19 vaccine front. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna's request for emergency use authorization (EUA) of its COVID-19 vaccine. It is incredible to think we now have two vaccines. It’s something to once again celebrate. 

We know everyone is working hard to plan for, if not already implement, vaccine clinics at your facilities. This has been a complex and long process, but we are making it happen and literally saving lives every single day. WHCA and AHCA/NCAL will continue to advocate for prioritization of long term care residents and staff at the highest level for both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines so we can begin to put this pandemic behind us.  

In addition to the Moderna EUA fact sheet, AHCA/NCAL has continued developing numerous resources to help you execute these clinics and communicate with staff/residents about the importance of getting this vaccine. As part of the #GetVaccinated campaign, you have access to media resources, talking points for staff and residents, social media content, bilingual letters for obtaining consent, graphics to help develop collateral such as buttons and stickers, and so much more. We highly encourage you to view the campaign and utilize these resources.  

AHCA/NCAL will host the next COVID-19 vaccine office hours tomorrow, December 22, 2020, at 11 AM PST. Their team will be available to answer your questions about the Moderna vaccine, so be sure to register today. Recordings of the recent vaccination office hours, focused on preparing for and promoting high vaccination rates in your building, are available here.   
DOH PROVIDES TIP SHEET ON COMBATING LONELINESS THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS
The Department of Health (DOH) has provided a tip sheet to help providers support residents and families during this holiday season when loneliness can be challenging. There are many reasons why people experience loneliness. Isolation is not always the main cause of loneliness. Individuals can sometimes feel lonely even in groups and when around others. It is common for older adults to feel lonely, especially in a long-term care facility when they may be surrounded by others, but not closely connected to them. Approximately 4% to 9% of older adults in long-term care settings suffer from constant loneliness, and an additional one third may experience some degree of loneliness. There are similar outcomes for people with developmental disabilities who receive support services in long-term care settings. We appreciate the DOH providing this valuable resource to assist providers as they support their residents during this time.
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.