COVID-19 UPDATE #95
November 5, 2020
UPDATE TO SNF PROVIDERS ON REPORTING COVID-19 TEST RESULTS
A Dear Administrator letter to skilled nursing providers dated October 30, 2020, shares an update on reporting COVID-19 test results. The letter reminds providers that in order to report test results to NHSN, facilities must obtain or upgrade NHSN access to Level-3. Upgrading requires completion of the Secure Access Management System (SAMS) identity verification process. Verified users will be mailed a SAMS grid card to use at the NHSN login.

The letter also shares that Residential Care Services (RCS) strongly recommends all facilities have more than one user obtain Level-3 access and be familiar with reporting test results. This will help ensure uninterrupted reporting of test results. There are instructions at the NHSN website for enrolling additional users for the same facility. Do not enroll the facility more than once. Please remember required reporting of all laboratory test results to NHSN does not substitute for reporting positive COVID test results to your local health jurisdiction and positive and suspected positive test results to the Residential Care Services’ Complaint Resolution Unit (“the hotline”).
HHS UPDATES PROVIDER RELIEF FUND FAQs
HHS recently made a significant number of updates to the Provider Relief Fund FAQs. Notable changes include:  
  • New flexibility to update Provider Infection Control and SNF allocation information;
  • Additional reporting guidance; and
  • New CHOW information. 

A document containing the new FAQs is available here. Read more.
DOH PROVIDES INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR SNF COVID-19 ANTIGEN TESTING
The Department of Health (DOH) has provided guidance for skilled nursing providers regarding the CMS requirement for routine SARS-CoV-2 testing of nursing home staff per CMS Memo 20-38. The DOH guidance provides a flow chart of considerations for interpreting antigen test results in skilled nursing. The guidance also provides information on what to do if a health care worker tests positive for COVID-19. 
60 MINUTES REPORTS ON FIRST COVID-19 OUTBREAK IN US
In a 60 Minutes report aired on November 1, it is reported that lack of readiness and a questionable federal inspection helped fuel the first US COVID-19 outbreak. As noted on their website leading into the article and recording from November 1, “When a nursing facility outside Seattle found itself in the middle of the first known US outbreak of COVID-19, the response was hampered by a lack of viable tests and a federal inspection that diverted time away from patient care.”

The interview dives into the lack of testing ability and the interference of a federal inspection in the middle of Life Care of Kirkland’s state of emergency as they were the first to battle the “invisible enemy.” Nancy Butner, NW Vice President for Life Care Centers of America, is featured in the interview and shares insight on the surreal events taking place in the initial days of the outbreak. 
CDC RELEASES GUIDANCE ON HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS
As many begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers considerations to help protect individuals, their families, and communities from COVID-19. The considerations are meant to supplement – not replace – any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which your holiday gatherings must comply. The information addresses holiday gatherings, flu vaccine, things to do if you attend a holiday gathering, and ideas on how to celebrate the holidays this year. This is a good resource to share with your staff and resident families.
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.