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Today's COVID-19 Report: Monday, October 19, 2020

Monday, October 19, 2020

Here are the latest need-to-know updates for Monday, October 19 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New Ohio testing plan to be announced for NF providers

This morning, LeadingAge Ohio, the Ohio Health Care Association (OHCA) and the Academy of Senior Health Sciences leadership learned that Ohio is launching a new testing program in an effort to bring stability and predictability to testing cadences for NFs in Ohio. Nursing home members should watch for an EIDC alert, likely early tomorrow, inviting NF providers to a webinar later in the week. It is very important for facilities to participate in this webinar which Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) Director McElroy anticipates will be held on Wednesday, October 21.

The new testing program is moving toward an October 26 roll out and includes state support for a mandatory weekly testing program --- regardless of the county COVID positivity rate (i.e. color). During the webinar, facilities will learn about the new testing cadence/program, the options available, the implications of opting-in/opting out, confirmatory testing responsibilities, etc.

The state will assume that all facilities opt-in to this initial roll-out of the plan, with facilities receiving four weeks of supplies in its initial roll-out; if a facility accepts the opt-in, the facility will not be permitted to opt-out for 30 days. The webinar will explain the details of a full opt-in option (that is, that the state provides testing supplies for two weeks of PCR testing and two weeks of BinaxNOW testing), partial opt-in options, and full opt-out.

If a NF provider is already scheduled to test next week, the scheduling team at ODH is working to maintain the facility’s existing schedule. For those providers in CMS green counties that have been consistently green and without an ‘outbreak’, this is clearly an onerous change. For those providers in counties where positivity rates have been changing, the Administration is hopeful that the consistency achieved through this approach will ease the testing uncertainty on staff. The state’s provision of all PCR and BinaxNOW cards is intended to bring financial relief, as well. The info above is what LeadingAge Ohio received this morning, but please be aware that info is unfolding rapidly.  More details will be provided at the webinar and updated guidance will be posted on the once final details are provided on the webinar.

Ohio Plan for COVID-19 vaccine program for nursing homes under development

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) on Friday, October 16 announced agreements with CVS and Walgreens to provide and administer COVID-19 vaccines to residents of long-term care facilities (LTCF) nationwide with no out-of-pocket costs. This is part of the Trump Administration's Operation Warp Speed (OWS) goals to vulnerable Americans. LTCF residents may be part of the prioritized groups for initial COVID-19 vaccination efforts until there are enough doses available for every American who wishes to be vaccinated.

The state of Ohio will have its own plan for distribution of vaccines, so all Ohio long-term care facilities will be invited to a webinar to learn the steps for completing provider enrollment with ODH’s portal to become a vaccine provider; the portal will likely include questions specific to the facility, e.g. refrigeration capabilities, staffing capacity for administering vaccines, etc. Ohio plans a phased-in approach to registering in the portal. The Administration indicates that Ohio’s plan will be posted by week’s end.

Amended Director's Order on the Opening of Adult Day Services and Senior Centers

The Amended Director’s Order on the Opening of Adult Day Care Services and Senior Centers was recently published with an effective date of October 17. The amended order was released without the explanatory details below. Unfortunately, there was a flurry of misinformation following its release.

The changes were minimal and include:

  • Making the language consistent regarding mask wearing;
  • Clarifying language that testing of staff and participants must be consistent with guidance from the Ohio Departments of Aging and Health; and
  • Updating the tool that can be utilized to pre-screen participants and staff for COVID-19 before each visit to the facility.

The Ohio Department of Aging (ODH) website has been updated and includes the amended Order, related FAQs, and slide deck. Additionally, information from Friday’s webinar has been posted.

HB770 would allow essential caregivers in nursing homes, assisted living

Late last month, Representative Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville) introduced HB770, which would allow residents of long-term care facilities to name one essential caregiver and one alternate essential caregiver who would be permitted wider access to the nursing home, beyond what is permitted by the Director’s Order. The essential caregiver would, “Provide care and support to the resident, including, but not limited to, meal set up, personal grooming, and companionship.” Furthermore, the facility would be permitted to allow additional essential caregivers, depending on the COVID conditions in the facility and community.

The bill represents Ohio’s attempt to replicate essential caregiver programs in other states, including Indiana, Texas, Florida, and Minnesota, and with 28 cosponsors, reflects concerns voiced by families to legislators in the weeks leading up to the beginning of indoor visitation. A recent Dayton Daily News article highlights the challenges faced by families enduring separation, and LeadingAge Ohio’s work to advance a pilot program that would test this concept before any large-scale rollout. LeadingAge Ohio’s Advocacy Committee is in the process of reviewing the initial draft of the bill, to provide feedback on the legislation's goals as well as ways the legislation might place undue burden on already-stretched providers.

Opportunity for LeadingAge Ohio's Fall Education Fest registrants... You can still attend!

Reminder – it’s not too late to register for the LeadingAge Ohio Fall Education Fest!

With two weeks left in the LeadingAge Ohio Fall Education Fest, members are reporting great value for this virtual education series. Whatever your individual role, there is a specific education track to fit your needs. Four unique educational tracks have been planned for leadership, clinicians, administrators, nurses and front line staff. Special group pricing provides great value and offers something for everyone in joining this one-of-a-kind virtual event. There are still many opportunities for learning and professional development in these last two weeks and late registrants can catch up on recordings of any missed sessions.  

Another benefit to being part of the Fall Education Fest is that each Fall Education Fest registrant will be entered into a drawing for a complimentary registration for the 2021 LeadingAge conference in Atlanta and a guaranteed slot in the HQ hotel. The drawing will take place at the close of the Fall Education Fest and the winner will be notified on how to take advantage of this awesome opportunity.

For Fall Education Fest session information and to register, please click here.

LeadingAge Need to Know: COVID-19 – October 19, 2020

LeadingAge shares the latest coronavirus news and resources with members twice each weekday. This morning's update featured items on new insights and tools and a sample of networking opportunities at the upcoming Annual Meeting Virtual Experience.

Check out the full report here.

                Linkage                         Buerger


Please send all questions to Additionally, members are encouraged to visit the LeadingAge Ohio COVID-19 Working Group facebook group to pose questions to peers and share best practices. LeadingAge is continuing its daily calls for all members.  To participate in these daily online updates, members should register here.  

LeadingAge Ohio is working to ensure that the information in our daily alerts, on our website, and all coronavirus-related communications is as accurate as possible. However, LeadingAge Ohio makes no guarantees about the accuracy of the information. 

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Our national partner, LeadingAge, is an association of 6,000 not-for-profit organizations dedicated to expanding the world of possibilities for aging. Together, we advance policies, promote practices and conduct research that support, enable and empower people to live fully as they age.