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Connection Newsletter - COVID-19 Updates

President Biden announced Tuesday additional federal relief for the state including personnel and free at-home COVID-19 tests.

COVID-19 updates

As Arizona hospitals remain on the tipping point of a crisis due to staffing constraints and increased patient counts, President Biden announced Tuesday additional federal relief for the state including personnel and free at-home COVID-19 tests. Only two hospitals are set to receive 20 paramedics: Yuma Regional Medical Center and Canyon Vista Medical Center in Sierra Vista. While we appreciate all federal assistance, AzHHA will continue to advocate for additional resources to meet the needs of our hospitals.

Pima County Tuesday enacted a mask mandate to require, “everyone in the County to wear a face covering indoors when six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained.” The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 for the requirement to go into effect immediately. Read more on the face mask guidance here.

The Arizona Department of Health Services issued its latest vaccination plea Tuesday saying a COVID-19 booster is “more important than ever with Omicron spreading quickly.” The department’s news release outlines the latest data showing three-quarters of eligible Arizonans have yet to get a booster dose.


CMS endorses Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently endorsed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation which indicated clinical preference for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, over Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. This updated CDC recommendation follows similar recommendations from other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom. Although getting an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is clinically preferred, ACIP reaffirmed that getting vaccinated is better than being unvaccinated.    

CMS to consider survey suspension for hospitals experiencing COVID-19 surge 

American Hospital Association this week announced that in conversations with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said, “Hospitals may contact their accrediting organization or state survey agency to request survey suspensions if they are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases.”  

FDA authorizes COVID-19 at home anti-viral pill

U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted yesterday an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s Paxlovid, an oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19. The oral antiviral treatment is not authorized for the pre-exposure or post-exposure prevention of COVID-19 or for initiation of treatment in those requiring hospitalization due to severe or critical COVID-19. In mild-to-moderate cases of COVID, the treatment should be initiated as soon after diagnosis of COVID-19 and within five days of symptom onset. Vaccines continue to be the best resource to prevent COVID-19 or serious illnesses related to the virus.

AzHHA releases DataGen reports

AzHHA hospital members should have received the CY 2022 outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS) final rule and analysis Tuesday as part of AzHHA’s partnership with DataGen. As a follow-up to the OPPS final rule analysis, DataGen will be hosting a webinar to review the final rule. The webinar will be held, January 19 from 1-2 p.m. AzHHA hospital members who would like to register may email [email protected] to request the registration link.

In addition to the 2022 OPPS final rule and analysis, members were sent the following DataGen reports.

  • Critical access hospital and small rural PPS utilization analysis - Sent 10/26/2021

  • Calendar year 2022 Home Health Final Rule - Sent 11/30/2021

  • FFY 2022 Readmissions Reduction Program analysis - Sent 12/01/2021

  • Medicare OPPS Top Surgical Procedures analysis - Sent 12/02/2021

  • Value-Based Purchasing program analysis - Sent 12/21/2021

Rural health grant opportunity

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced a grant funding opportunity on December 17 for Rural Public Heath Workforce Training Network Program. The closing date for applications is March 18, 2022. HRSA will be holding an informational webinar on January 5, 2022 for those interested in learning more.


Editor’s note: AzHHA will not be releasing its weekly distribution of the Connection Newsletter December 30 in observance of the upcoming holidays. We wish you and your family a healthy and happy holiday! Do your part by getting your COVID-19 vaccine or booster. Find a vaccination site by visiting



Upcoming Events

February 7 - Developing a Telemedicine Program

This course is ideal for individuals or groups who have some telehealth experience and are interested in expanding their services. It is also a great course for those new to telehealth who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the growing industry. The course fee is waived for Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Nevada residents. Register here.

Introduction to POLST

Interested in learning how to use the Arizona POLST form with your patients? The one-hour Introduction to POLST workshop equips healthcare professionals with knowledge and resources to begin using POLST, Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, in Arizona. The objectives are to describe what POLST is at the state and national level, explain why POLST is important, define the population for POLST, when to begin the conversation and who completes POLST, describe the process for completing, reviewing and updating POLST and learn the process of submitting healthcare planning documents to the Arizona Healthcare Directive Registry. To register for a workshop, click on a date below.

In the News

'Not the level we need': White House sends help for Arizona's COVID surge, but it falls short of hospitals' requests
12 News

Arizona hospitals expect drop off of travel nurses over holiday season

Arizona adds 223 COVID-19 deaths Tuesday in largest daily report since February

NW Arizona county rejects emergency declaration despite hospital crisis

Pfizer and BioNTech seek full vaccine approval for those ages 12-15
The Hill