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COVID-19 in the News October 20th - 26th

Published on 

Tuesday, October 27, 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 October 20th through October 26th.

Resource Spotlight: Tips for Voters

As we are just days away from the election, the CDC has created a Tips for Voters to Reduce Spread of COVID-19 webpage which includes 6 steps to follow before you vote and 6 steps to take the day you vote. For those of you who plan to vote in person, the CDC provides a checklist of recommended items to bring with you to your voting site, including:

  • Necessary documentation such as your identification (check with your voting site),
  • A mask,
  • An extra mask,
  • Tissues,
  • Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol,
  • Water,
  • Black ink pen, and
  • Bring prepared items with you (e.g., registration forms, sample ballots)

October 20, 2020: New FAQs added to COVID-19 FAQs on Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) Billing

Three new FAQs were added to this now 150 page document on October 20, 2020. Two pertain to Medicare Telehealth (questions 46 and 47 in the Medicare Telehealth section of this document). The third FAQ is related to Medicare beneficiary SNF benefits as follows:

Question: If a new benefit period was granted pursuant to the section 1812(f) waiver, and the PHE ends in the middle of that new benefit period, would the beneficiary be entitled to the full 100 days of renewed SNF benefits, or would that entitlement end on the day the PHE ends?

Answer: If a beneficiary has qualified for the special one-time renewal of SNF benefits under the benefit period aspect of the section 1812(f) waiver while the section 1812(f) waiver is in effect, that reserve of 100 additional SNF benefit days would remain available for the beneficiary to draw upon even after the waiver itself has expired.

New: 10/20/20”

As a reminder, Secretary Azar issued the most recent continuation of the Public Health Emergency (PHE) due to the COVID-19 pandemic on October 2, 2020 with an effective date of October 23, 2020.

October 21, 2020: CDC Guidance: Test for Current Infection Updated

The CDC webpage Test for Current Infection has been updated and lists the following considerations for who should get tested:

  • People who have symptoms of COVID-19,
  • People who had had close contact (within 6 feet of an infected person for a total of 15 minutes or more) with someone with confirmed COVID-19,
  • People who have been asked or referred to get testing by their healthcare provider, local or state health department.

October 21, 2020: Expanding Access to COVID-19 Tests and Vaccines

HHS issued guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) authorizing qualified pharmacy technicians and State-authorized pharmacy interns to administer, childhood vaccines, COVID-19 Vaccines when available, and COVID-19 tests. All those authorized to administer tests and vaccines are subject to several requirements. HHS provides a link to the guidance document in their Press Release.

October 22, 2020: Nursing Home COVID-19 Preparedness for Fall & Winter Web-Based Training

The Thursday October 22nd edition of the CMS MLNConnects newsletter informs providers about web-based training available to Nursing Homes to help them prepare for COVID-19, provide resident-centered care, and prevent and control infection. You can visit the Quality, Safety & Education Portal to access free scenario-based trainings for managers and frontline staff. See the flyer for more information.

October 22, 2020: FDA Approved First Treatment for COVID-19

The FDA announced their approval of the “antiviral drug Veklury (remdesivir) for use in adult and pediatric patients 12 years of age and older and weighing at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds) for the treatment of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization. Veklury should only be administered in a hospital or in a healthcare setting capable of providing acute care comparable to inpatient hospital care. Veklury is the first treatment for COVID-19 to receive FDA approval.” 

Reminder, effective August 1, 2020, CMS implemented 12 new ICD-10-PCS codes related to COVID-19 became effective, including the administration of Remdesivir.

October 22, 2020: Relief Fund Eligibility Expansion and Updated Reporting Requirements

Relief Fund Eligibility Expansion: HHS announced the expansion of Providers eligible to receive Phase 3 Provider Relief Funding. The announcement includes a list of eligible providers “regardless of whether they accept Medicaid or Medicare.” Note, applicants have until 11:59PM EST on November 6, 2020 to submit an application for payment consideration.

Reporting Requirement Update: An update to the reporting requirements was also included in the announcement. “In response to concerns raised, HHS is amending the reporting instructions to increase flexibility around how providers can apply PRF money toward lost revenues attributable to coronavirus. After reimbursing healthcare related expenses attributable to coronavirus that were unreimbursed by other sources, providers may use remaining PRF funds to cover any lost revenue, measured as a negative change in year-over-year actual revenue from patient care related sources.” Note, this announcement includes links to a policy memorandum and the amended reporting requirements.

CDC COVID Data Tracker – United States COVID-19 Cases

Data DateTotal CasesTotal DeathsCases in Last 7 Days
September 8, 20206,287,362188,688282,919
September 14, 20206,503,030193,705241,814
September 20, 20206,748,935198,754281,490
September 28, 20207,095,422204,328310,020
October 5, 20207,396,730209,199301,438
October 11, 20207,694,865213,614335,009
October 26, 20208,617,022224,601488,498
Resource: CDC COVID Data Tracker at
Article Author: Beth Cobb, RN, BSN, ACM, CCDS
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 Protection Assessment Tool.

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.