COVID-19 in the News October 6th – 12th

on Wednesday, 14 October 2020. All News Items | Case Management | Documentation | Coding

COVID-19 Can Spread by Airborne Transmission, Reporting COVID-19 Data Elements Required, Regeneron Seeks Emergency Use Authorization

MMP remains committed to continuing to monitor for COVID-19 updates specific to our reader base. This week we highlight key updates spanning from October 6th through October 12th.

 

Resource Spotlight: CDC Updates Guidance on How Coronavirus Spreads

On October 5th, the CDC updated their guidance on how Coronavirus spreads. The CDC’s How COVID-19 Spreads webpage opens by noting the spread of COVID-19 is mainly through close contact (within about 6 feet) and that people who are infected but asymptomatic can also spread the virus. The next sentence in the opening paragraph reminds the reader how much is still unknown about this disease as the CDC states “we are still learning about how the virus spreads and the severity of illness it causes.”

New to this page is the fact that the CDC is now on record as stating they believe “COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission” The following example provided by the CDC brings to mind the choir practice in March that resulted in multiple people testing positive for COVID-19, including three patients being hospitalized and two dying.

“There is evidence that under certain conditions, people with COVID-19 seem to have infected others who were more than 6 feet away. These transmissions occurred within enclosed spaces that had inadequate ventilation. Sometimes the infected person was breathing heavily, for example while singing or exercising.

  • Under these circumstances, scientists believe that the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles produced by the people with COVID-19 became concentrated enough to spread the virus to other people. The people who were infected were in the same space during the same time or shortly after the person with COVID-19 had left.”

 

September 29, 2020: CMS Updates COVID-19 Testing Methodology for Nursing Homes

Although this update occurred in late September. After talking with my mother, who is now a permanent resident of an Assisted Living Community where a Skilled Nursing Unit (SNF) is housed on the opposite side of the building, I felt it was important to share. Especially after my mom mentioning during a phone conversation that she is getting testing weekly for COVID-19 and the employees are getting tested twice a week.

The September 29th updated guidance came about in response to CMS receiving concerns from some governors of rural states that the frequency guidelines were not working well for some rural areas and updates the August 26th guidance.

 

October 6, 2020: CMS Interim Final Rule (IFC) –Requirements & Enforcement Process for Reporting COVID-19 Data Elements

CMS summarized the IFC as follows:

“CMS is committed to continuing to take critical steps to ensure America’s healthcare facilities are prepared to respond to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-10) Public Health Emergency (PHE). On September 2, 2020, the Federal Register published an interim final rule with comment period (IFC) (85 FR 54820). CMS has released new regulatory requirements for all hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) at 42 C.F.R. §§482.42(e) and 485.640(d), respectively, to report information in accordance with a frequency and in a standardized format as specified by the Secretary during the PHE for COVID-19. Failure to report the specified data needed to support broader surveillance of COVID-19 may lead to the imposition of the remedy to terminate a provider’s participation from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

You will find a link to the memorandum sent to CMS Locations State Agencies, Hospitals/CAHs, and other stakeholders as well as Hospital Mandatory COVID-19 Reporting Enforcement Workflow pdf document on this CMS webpage.

 

October 6, 2020: FDA Launches New Webpage: COVID-19 Vaccines

In their October 6, 2020 COVID-19 Daily Roundup, the FDA announced the launch of a new webpage, COVID-19 Vaccines, to highlight new information as it becomes available. On this webpage, Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., FDA Commissioner, and Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research indicate that “We are committed to expediting the development of COVID-19 vaccines, but not at the expense of sound science and decision making. We will not jeopardize the public’s trust in our science-based, independent review of these or any vaccines. There’s too much at stake.”

 

October 7, 2020: Regeneron Seeks Emergency Use Authorization Request

Regeneron announced their submission to the FDA for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for their REGN-COV2 investigational antibody combination for COVID-19. The announcement goes on to indicate that “if an EUA is granted the government has committed to making these doses available to the American people at no cost and would be responsible for their distribution. At this time, there are doses available for approximately 50,000 patients, and we expect to have doses available for 300,000 patients in total within the next few months.”

 

October 7, 2020: FDA Recommendations on Instructions for Patients Self-Collecting Nasal Samples for COVID-19 Testing

In an FDA Letter to Health Care Providers, the FDA is recommending that “providers provide visual (written or video) step-by-step instructions, in addition to verbal instructions, to patients who, in a health care setting, are self-collecting anterior nares (nasal) samples for SARS-CoV-2 testing…the instructions provided to patients should incorporate the following information:

  • The entire tip of the swab (usually ½ to ¾ of an inch) should be placed inside the nose, and the side of the swab tip should be rubbed with moderate pressure against as much of the wall of the anterior nares region as possible, moving the tip through a large circular path inside the nose.
  • At least four of these sweeping circles should be performed in each nostril using the same swab. This should take approximately 10-15 seconds per nostril.
  • Simply twirling the swab against one part of the inside of the nose or leaving the swab in the nose for 10-15 seconds, is not proper technique and may result in an insufficient sample.”

The letter also includes links to additional resources and how to report problems with SARS-COV-2 testing to the FDA.

 

October 7, 2020: AMA Press Release – New CPT codes for Multi-Virus Tests Detect COVID-19 and Flu – Approved for Immediate Use

The AMA announced an update to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) code set including “new code additions and editorial revisions for reporting medical services sparked by the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The following two new codes allow for detection of COVID-19 and common viral infections, including influenza A/B and respiratory syncytial virus.

  • 87636 - Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]) and influenza virus types A and B, multiplex amplified probe technique
  • 87637- Infectious agent detection by nucleic acid (DNA or RNA); severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (Coronavirus disease [COVID-19]), influenza virus types A and B, and respiratory syncytial virus, multiplex amplified probe technique

It is important to note that revisions to the code set have been approved for immediate use.

 

October 8, 2020: New Repayment Terms for Medicare Loans made to Providers during COVID-19

The recently enacted “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act” amended the repayment terms for the Expanded Accelerated and Advance Payments (AAP) Program. CMS released a Special Edition MLNConnects providing details regarding the new recoupment terms giving providers and suppliers one additional year to start their loan repayments. “CMS issued $106 billion in payments to providers and suppliers in order to alleviate the financial burden health care providers faced while experiencing cash flow issues in the early stages of combating the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency.” This article includes links to a Fact Sheet (PDF) and FAQs (PDF) document providing more information about the repayment terms.

Palmetto GBA, the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) for Jurisdictions J and M also released an

Article on October 8th letting providers know that they will be issuing “letters to any provider or facility that received an APP with full details regarding repayment of their accelerated or advanced payment. The letter will include a list of the provider’s accelerated or advance payment(s), including the amount(s), the date(s) that repayment will begin, and the related Accounts Receivable (AR) number(s). If a provider received accelerated or advance payment(s) in multiple disbursements, each disbursement amount will be listed, along with the corresponding date that repayment for each disbursement will begin.”

 

October 8, 2020: MLNConnects Notification – COVID-19: Optimizing PPE and Child Health and Wellness

CMS provided the following information in their Thursday October 8th edition of MLNConnects:

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) released:

For More Information:

 

October 8, 2020: SNF and LTCH Quality Reporting Programs: COVID-19 Public Reporting – Revised

Also included in the Thursday October 8th edition of MLNConnects, are updated COVID-19 public reporting tip sheets for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) and Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs).

 

October 9, 2020: CMS Takes Action to Protect Integrity of COVID-19 Testing

CMS notes in an October 9th Press Release that “since August 12, 2020, CMS issued 171 cease and desist letters to entities across the U.S. that were testing for COVID-19 without an appropriate CLIA certificate. Of those 171 letters, 34 percent went to facilities conducting laboratory testing without a CLIA certificate and 66 percent were issued to laboratories performing COVID-19 testing outside the scope of the existing CLIA certification. The letters ordered these laboratories to stop immediately to safeguard the integrity of COVID-19 testing, and protect patients from potential endangerment if provided inaccurate or unreliable test results. Following receipt of the letter, laboratories are required to provide CMS an attestation certifying they have ceased testing.”

 

CDC COVID Data Tracker – United States COVID-19 Cases

Data DateTotal CasesTotal DeathsDeaths per 100,000 PeopleCases in Last 7 Days
September 8, 2020 6,287,362 188,688 57 282,919
September 14, 2020 6,503,030 193,705 59 241,814
September 20, 2020 6,748,935 198,754 60 281,490
September 28, 2020 7,095,422 204,328 62 310,020
October 5, 2020 7,396,730 209,199 63 301,438
October 11, 2020 7,694,865 213,614 65 335,009
Resource: CDC COVID Data Tracker at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/?deliveryName=USCDC_2067-DM37553#cases_totalcases

 

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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