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AzHHA Member Advisory - COVID-19: September 25

Arizona universities plan for expanded COVID-19 testing and surveillance

Governor Doug Ducey announced yesterday in a news conference the State of Arizona is investing $14 million to Arizona’s three universities for COVID-19 mitigation. A press release states $8 million will be allocated for additional testing, surveillance and other response efforts including expanding wastewater testing. An additional $6 million will be allocated “for the development of Arizona State University’s groundbreaking point-of-need testing, which will allow people such as first responders, health care workers and those in congregate care settings to get COVID-19 test results within minutes.” 

EMResource and influenza reporting requirements

The EMResource system has been updated to include the new influenza reporting requirements outlined in Executive Order 2020-54. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) says, "in continued efforts to assess and mitigate the burden of COVID-19, licensed hospitals as defined by A.A.C. R9-10-101, excluding Specialty Hospitals only providing psychiatric service, are required to report per Executive Order 2020-54 every 24 hours. For hospitals interested in ADHS reporting to the HHS TeleTracking system on their behalf will need to login to EMResource and indicate they agree to opt-in or out in the “TeleTrack in EMResource” event by Monday, September 28, 2020." More information regarding Arizona hospital reporting requirements can be found on ADHS’ website here.

HHS releases Provider Relief Fund reporting requirements

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released a notice outlining reporting requirements for providers who received Provider Relief Fund (PRF) payments. This notice includes the categories of data elements recipients must submit for calendar years 2019 and 2020 and is a supporting document to its post-payment notice of reporting requirements. HHS states the reporting system will now be available in early 2021.

Significantly, the notice defines lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 as “a negative change in year-over-year net operating income from patient care related sources.” This is a much more restrictive definition than previously understood and could trigger recoupments. AzHHA is monitoring this situation through our partnership with the American Hospital Association and will keep members apprised of developments.

Vaccine developments

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week released the federal government’s initial strategy for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, entitled The Operation Warp Speed (OWS) Strategy for Distributing a COVID-19 Vaccine. The strategy sets forth a series of considerations necessary for the effective, efficient and successful distribution of COVID-19 vaccine doses, once available, as well as four key pillars for the work: continued engagement, distribution, ensuring safe administration and monitoring necessary vaccine-related data.

The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met this week to consider how to prioritize distribution of future COVID-19 vaccines but put off a vote until more information is available about the vaccines in development. State Vaccine Planning Task Force continues to meet weekly in preparation for the upcoming table-top exercise.

FDA clarifies emergency authorization for Abbott point-of-care test

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week reissued its emergency use authorization for the Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test to indicate the product is intended for specimens collected “from individuals who are suspected of COVID-19 by their health care provider within the first seven days of the onset of symptoms.” The revised EUA also clarifies that the test is authorized for emergency use by laboratories certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments that meet the requirements to perform high, moderate or waived complexity tests; and that U.S. testing facilities must report all results to the appropriate public health authorities.

AzHHA hosts lab directors’ call next week

AzHHA will hold the monthly meeting between hospital laboratory directors and Arizona State Public Health Laboratory staff on September 29 at 9 a.m. to discuss ongoing COVID-19 testing developments and supply chain issues. AzHHA members interested in attending the meeting should email Sabrina Romo at sromo@azhha.org.

Laboratory guide explains COVID-19 tests

Working to eliminate confusion about COVID-19 testing in the public, government, and healthcare sectors, Sonora Quest Laboratories put together this Laboratory Guide to show the tests currently available and how they should be used. The guide offers an algorithm for molecular and antigen test comparison.

Arizona universities plan for expanded COVID-19 testing and surveillance

Governor Doug Ducey announced yesterday in a news conference the State of Arizona is investing $14 million to Arizona’s three universities for COVID-19 mitigation. A press release states $8 million will be allocated for additional testing, surveillance and other response efforts including expanding wastewater testing. An additional $6 million will be allocated “for the development of Arizona State University’s groundbreaking point-of-need testing, which will allow people such as first responders, health care workers and those in congregate care settings to get COVID-19 test results within minutes.” Read more here.

AZCHER-procured ventilators arrive in Arizona

Through a generous grant provided by ADHS, AzHHA and the Arizona Coalition for Healthcare Emergency Preparedness (AzCHER) procured over 600 ventilators to support the pandemic-related medical surge in Arizona hospitals. The ventilators began arriving this month with a total of 360 currently in the state. The ventilators are being allocated to county public health departments for distribution to hospitals.

Healthcare leaders unite to encourage the continuation of #MaskUpAZ

On September 21, 2020, Scottsdale City Mayor Jim Lane issued a proclamation rescinding the municipality’s mask mandate. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is said to be considering the status of its current mask mandate. Healthcare leaders are united to promote the mitigation benefits of requiring masks to be worn. In a letter to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, the group states, “We understand there is a small but vocal minority calling for the elimination of the mask mandate in Maricopa. We urge you to continue maintaining the mandate. To lift the mandate would be a devastating blow to the progress we have seen in the past few months of declining COVID infection and death rates in Arizona.”

Healthcare leaders will continue to encourage the use of face masks as an effective way to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. If your county or municipality is reconsidering the mask mandate, please let AzHHA know if we can help provide advocacy and subject matter expertise along with our member hospital. Please join us in amplifying this message or connect with us at communications@azhha.org to learn more. 

Hospitals can sign up for ‘Thank You’ campaign supporting health care workers

Hospitals and health systems nationwide can participate in the non-partisan Spirit of Liberty Foundation’s Operation Thank You relay, in which special aircraft make event stops at 97 locations honoring physicians, nurses and other first responders at local ceremonies. The crew will be in Phoenix September 30-October 1. Find the route, dates and sign-up form here.