COVID-19 in the News July 21 – July 27

on Tuesday, 28 July 2020. All News Items | Case Management | Documentation | Coding

Severe Weather and COVID-19, Resuming Elective Orthopedic Surgery, COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Renewed on July 25, 2020

MMP remains committed to continuing to monitor for COVID-19 updates specific to our reader base. This week we highlight key updates spanning from July 21st through July 27th.    

Resource Spotlight: CDC Natural Disasters, Severe Weather, and COVID-19

Earlier this month the CDC launched the new webpage Natural Disasters, Severe Weather, and COVID-19.  They note that “planning and preparing for hurricanes and other natural disasters can be stressful, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. Know how the COVID-19 pandemic can affect disaster preparedness and recovery, and what you can do to keep yourself and others safe.”

You can find guidance on the following topics is available on this webpage:

  • Preparing for Hurricanes & COVID-19; Follow tips to help you and your family stay safe during hurricane season this year,
  • Public Disaster Shelters & COVID-19: Follow tips to help you prepare and lower your risk of getting sick with COVID-19 while staying in a shelter, and
  • Professionals & Emergency Workers: Know how to keep your community safe during and after a natural disaster amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


July 15, 2020: Resuming Elective Orthopedic Surgery During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This article can be found in the July 15, 2020 Issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. The guidelines for resuming elective surgery was developed by the International Consensus Group (ICM). Specifically, seventy-seven expert physicians in orthopaedic surgery, infectious disease, microbiology and virology, and anesthesia were involved in this effort. The stated purpose for providing this list of recommendations is to reduce the COVID-19 “pathogen transfer during the reintroduction of elective orthopaedic surgical procedures.” At the outset of this article the authors acknowledge the guidelines are based on current available scientific evidence and may require being altered as new evidence emerges.


July 20, 2020: HHS Protect - Frequently Asked Questions

For a while now, to facilitate the public health response to COVID-19, hospitals have been reporting daily data reports on testing, capacity and utilization, and patient flows. Initially hospitals were advised to send this information to the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). 

Effective July 15, 2020 reporting to the NHSN was no longer an option. Instead, hospitals were to begin submitting data directly to the Federal Government through one of the methods outlined in the COVID-19 Guidance for Hospital Reporting document that was updated on July 10, 2020.

In a July 20, 2020 Press Release, HHS provides Frequently Asked Questions about HHS Protect, “a secure data ecosystem powered by eight commercial technologies for sharing, parsing, housing, and accessing COVID-19 data and driven by four principles: transparency, sharing, privacy, and security.”


July 22, 2020: New Resources to Protect Nursing Home Residents Against COVID-19

Several new initiatives designed to protect nursing home residents was announced in a July 22nd CMS Press Release. CMS Administrator Seema Verma indicates “as caseloads continue to increase in areas around the country, it has never been more important that nursing homes have what they need to maintain a sturdy defense against the virus. These measures will help them do exactly that.”

New Initiatives

  • New Funding: HHS will devote $5 billion of the Provider Relief Fund authorized in the CARES Act to Medicare-certified long term care facilities and state veterans’ home (“nursing homes”), to build nursing home skills and enhance nursing response to COVID-19, including infection control.
  • Enhanced Testing: Rapid point-of-care diagnostic testing devices will be distributed to nursing homes. Along with the deployment of more than 15,000 testing devices over the next few months, “CMS will being requiring, rather than recommending, that all nursing homes in states with a 5% positivity rate or greater test all nursing home staff each week.”
  • Additional Technical Assistance and Support:
    • Task Force Strike Teams were deployed in 18 nursing homes in Illinois, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas between July 18 and July 20 with a focus on the following four key areas of support:
      • Keeping COVID-19 out of facilities,
      • Detecting COVID-19 cases quickly,
      • Preventing transmission, and
      • Managing staff.
    • Nursing Home COVID-19 Training: An online, self-paced, on-demand Nursing Home COVID-19 Training consisting of 23 modules will be made available to all 15,400 nursing homes nationwide. In order for nursing homes to be able to receive additional funding from the Provider Relief Fund Program, participation in this Training is required.
  • Weekly Data on High Risk Nursing Home: “The White House and CMS will release a list of nursing homes with an increase in cases that will be sent to states each week as part of the weekly Governor’s report.”


July 23, 2020: COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Declaration to Renew on July 25th

Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of Health and Human Services declared an initial Public Health Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic on January 31, 2020. A PHE lasts for the duration of the emergency or 90 days and may be extended by the Secretary. On July 25, 2020, the PHE due to COVID-19 has been extended for the second time. You can learn more about Public Health Emergency Declarations in a CMS

Q&A document.


July 24, 2020: Addition of the QW Modifier to Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) Code 87426

MLN Article MM11927 provides information about the addition of the QW modifier to HCPCS code 87426] (Infectious agent antigen detection by immunoassay technique, (eg, enzyme immunoassay [EIA], enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA], immunochemiluminometric assay [IMCA]) qualitative or semiqualitative, multiple-step method; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 9eg, SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19]]/

At the end of this MLN article CMS includes the following note:

“Providers should be aware that MACs will not search their files to either retract payment for claims already paid or to retroactively pay claims. However, MACs will adjust claims that you bring to their attention.”


July 24, 2020: Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) Response to the Public Health Emergency on the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

MLN Article SE20011 has now been revised for the eleventh time. In this latest revision, CMS has added clarifying language to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Waives Coinsurance and Deductibles for Additional COVID-19 Related Services section to show it applies to lab tests regardless of the HCPCS codes used to report those tests.


July 27, 2020: FDA Reiterates Warning about Dangerous Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers Containing Methanol

In a Press Announcement, FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. notes that “Practicing good hand hygiene, which includes using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available, is an important public health tool for all Americans to employ. Consumers must also be vigilant about which hand sanitizers they use, and for their health and safety we urge consumers to immediately stop using all hand sanitizers on the FDA’s list of dangerous hand sanitizer products….We remain extremely concerned about the potential serious risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol. Producing, importing and distributing toxic hand sanitizers poses a serious threat to the public and will not be tolerated. The FDA will take additional action as necessary and will continue to provide the latest information on this issue for the health and safety of consumers.”

The agencies do-not-use list of dangerous hand sanitizer products is being updated regularly. It is important to note that the FDA has indicated that “In most cases, methanol does not appear on the product label.”


Article by Beth Cobb

Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS, is the Manager of Clinical Analytics at Medical Management Plus, Inc.  Beth has over twenty-five years of experience in healthcare including eleven years in Case Management at a large multi-facility health system. 

In her current position, Beth is a principle writer for MMP’s Wednesday@One weekly e-newsletter, an active member of our HIPAA Compliance Committee, MMP’s Education Department Program Director and co-developer of MMP’s proprietary Compliance Risk Assessment (CRA) Tool. You may contact Beth at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This material was compiled to share information.  MMP, Inc. is not offering legal advice.  Every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure the information is accurate and useful.

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