COVID-19: Daily Announcements From Federal Agencies

4/3/2020

Alternative Text

NCSL is tracking the impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) may have on state legislatures. Check back often for updated federal agency announcements. We started posting annoucements on March 13.

April 2020

April 3, 2020 | USDA Opens Applications for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program Stimulus Funding: The United States Department of Agriculture announced application details for its Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program, which received $25 million as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act. Grant funding awarded through a competitive process can be used to cover costs associated with acquiring telecommunications technologies that will improve communication opportunities. Applications are due by July 13.

April 2, 2020 | USDOT Issues Non-Binding Guidance to States Concerning Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released Monday-binding guidance to states and localities regarding how the movement of operators of commercial motor vehicles should be handled in light of shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders issued throughout the country. The document draws on lessons learned from state, local and territorial actions to date, as well as federal guidance recommending unrestricted movement and access for critical infrastructure workers.

April 2, 2020 | FTA Releases $25 Billion in Funding Provided in the CARES Act: The Federal Transit Administration announced that they had finalized apportionment of the $25 billion that was included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and that they are available for use for those states and localities that are eligible. The funds were allocated through existing formula grant programs including the Urbanized Area Formula Grants, Formula Grants for Rural Areas, State of Good Repair Formula Grants and Growing and High-Density States Formula Grants using fiscal year 2020 apportionment formulas. FTA also released a frequently asked questions document to help aid recipients understand how the funding can fully utilized.

April 1, 2020 | COVID-19 Ventilator Requests: Given the scarcity of the ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile and the current capacity of the private sector to meet the demand, the federal government has adopted a process to manage federal ventilator resources to ensure the ventilators are shipped to the states in the amount needed to manage the immediate crisis. In the case of ventilators, immediate is defined as requirements necessary to sustain life within a 72-hour window. To submit a request, states and tribes will work through their FEMA/ HHS regional leadership. In order for a request to be processed, the state/tribe must provide detailed responses to the five specific questions

April 1, 2020 | EPA Releases Updated Guidance on Grants Impacted by COVID-19: The EPA distributed a frequently asked questions document providing updated guidance to applicants for, and recipients of, EPA grants and cooperative agreements regarding the impacts of COVID-19. The EPA noted that they will continue to update this document as needed.

March 2020

March 31, 2020 | FEMA Releases Fact Sheet on Eligible Emergency Medical Care Activities for Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Response Assistance: The FEMA COVID-19 Emergency Protective Measures Fact Sheet includes a list of eligible emergency medical care activities. This fact sheet provides additional guidance related to the eligibility of emergency medical care activities as an emergency protective measure under the Emergency Declaration and any major Disaster Declarations authorizing public assistance for COVID-19.

March 31, 2020 | DeVos Announced Deadline Extension for Career and Technical Education (CTE) State Plans: Education Secretary Betsy Devos announced an extension for states that need additional time to submit their state plans for FY 2020-2023 under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education Act for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The Department of Education will allow states and local Perkins recipients to receive their first installment of Perkins V funds on time even if they need an extension. Information on the new flexibilities can be found here.

March 31, 2020 | EPA Provides Additional Flexibilities to Increase Disinfectant Production: The EPA announced that it will temporarily allow manufacturers of disinfectants already approved for use against the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the authority to obtain certain active ingredients from any source of suppliers without receiving agency approval first. This action follows the EPA’s announcement last week on the expansion of the list of disinfectants approved for use against the COVID-19.

March 30, 2020 | FEMA Creates New Supply Chain Task Force: FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service created a Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force, one of eight COVID-19 focused task forces under the National Response Coordination Center. The task force’s primary effort is the sourcing of personal protective equipment, ventilators and other critical resources requested by states, tribes and territories.

March 30, 2020 | FDA and FTC Issued Warning Letters: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warning letters to two companies selling unapproved products claiming to treat or cure COVID-19. One of the companies, Corona-cure.com, was warned for selling the product Coronavirus Infection Prevention Nasal Spray with misleading claims on its website about treating COVID-19. The agencies also warned Carahealth for selling its herbal products with the misleading claims of prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19. There is currently no approved treatment or preventative measure for COVID-19. The FDA and FTC are closely monitoring social media, the online marketplace, and incoming reports for fraudulent COVID-19 products on the market.

March 30, 2020 | Enforcement Policy for Gowns, Other Apparel, and Gloves During the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency: The FDA issued a guidance that will expand the availability of surgical apparel for health care professionals. This includes gowns (togas), hoods, and surgeon’s and patient examination gloves during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

March 30, 2020 | Administration of Children and Families (ACF) Memo on Grant Flexibilities in Conducting Human Services Actives Related to Affect by COVID-19: ACF released a memo providing additional information and guidance for ACF grantees and recipients about new flexibilities around application deadlines, non-competitive continuation requests and extensions on expiring awards.

March 30, 2020 | FAA Temporarily Accepts Expired Certificates: The Federal Aviation Administration announced it will not take legal action, through June 30, 2020 against pilots or flight engineers who hold an expired medical certificate due to the difficulty in renewing during the COVID-19 emergency.

March 29, 2020 | FEMA Extends Grace Period for Flood Insurance Renewal Premiums: FEMA is extending the grace period to renew flood insurance policies from 30 to 120 days for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) customers. To avoid a lapse in coverage. Typically, there is a 30-day grace period to renew NFIP policies, however, due to the widespread economic disruption arising from this pandemic, FEMA recognizes that policyholders may not meet the standard deadline.

March 29 2020 | FDA Enforcement Policy for Sterilizers, Disinfectant Devices, and Air Purifiers During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency: The FDA has issued an effective immediately guidance outlining an enforcement policy to help expand the availability and capability of sterilizers, disinfectant devices and air purifiers.

March 28 2020 | FEMA Announces Free Access to Software Solutions and Licensed Datasets to Aid Non-Federal Governmental Entities for COVID-19 Response: The DHS has an Enterprise License Agreement with the Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) that allows DHS/FEMA the ability to extend that agreement to our governmental partners during an “incident of national significance.” State, local, tribal and territorial governmental entities can now obtain free access to Esri software solutions for up to six months to help them respond to COVID-19. Esri provides geographic information system (GIS) software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications. For those interested, choose “Request Assistance” in the red banner, and then select “COVID-19 Response Package” within “support options.” The package contains software, templates and suggested data schemas. For current Esri customers, you can also access free templates specific for the COVID-19 response.

March 28 2020 | Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data: The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) released all applicable licensed datasets to local, state, tribal and territorial users with COVID-19 operational needs. NGA is providing access to non-federal governmental disaster/emergency response security agencies and personnel who are supporting Homeland Security/Homeland Defense missions per the current Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Data Use Agreement. This expanded access will expire once the current declaration of a national emergency ends. This expanded access covers additional data products such as Licensed Parcel Data, 2020 Roads and Routing Dataset, and Dun and Bradstreet Business Points Data.

March 28 2020 | CISA releases Version 2.0 of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Worker Guidance: The CISA announced updated guidance for CISA’s essential critical infrastructure workers. This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered a federal directive or standard.

March 28 2020 | CMS Fact Sheet: Expansion of the Accelerated and Advance Payments Program for Providers and Suppliers During Covid-19 Emergency: CMS announced an expansion of its accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare health care providers and suppliers to help them with the resources need to combat COVID-19.The program expansion, which includes changes from the CARES Act.  

March 28 2020 | FDA issued an EUA: The FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that will allow hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products to be donated to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). The drugs can be used for certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19 and will be distributed from the SNS to states for doctors to prescribe, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible. The SNS, managed by the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship donated doses to states.

March 27 2020 | FEMA Emergency Administrator Peter Gaynor Sends Letter to Emergency Managers.  Administrator Gaynor announced that he sent a letter to fellow emergency managers outlining critical steps to help the nation respond to COVID-19.

March 27 2020 FEMA Offers Ways for Private Sector to Help Fight COVID-19: FEMA announced that there are ways the private sector can help fight COVID-19. Visit FEMA for details.

March 27 2020 Nationwide Waivers of Child Nutrition Monitoring: The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a memo providing guidance of a variety of waivers of child nutrition monitoring including for Child and Adult Care Food Program, Schools Meals Programs, and the Summer Food Service Program. These waivers were included in the second piece of federal legislation, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and are in effect immediately and will stay in effect until June 30 or until the federal public health emergency expires, whichever is first.

March 27 2020 | Department of Health and Human Services Letter to Child Welfare Legal and Judicial Leaders Addressing Legal and Court-Related Issues During COVID-19: HHS released a letter providing guidance to courts, court improvement programs and administrative offices to provide additional guidance about where the courts have flexibility and where services are required.

March 27 2020 | Federal Transit Administration Extends Grant Application Deadline Amid COVID-19 Pandemic: U.S. Dept of Transportation announced that deadlines for several Federal Transit Administration (FTA) competitive grant programs will be extended for 30 days amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "We understand that many transit agencies are experiencing disruptions to normal operating procedures and, as a result, some potential applicants to FTA’s grant programs may not be able to submit timely applications to FTA’s Notices of Funding Opportunity," said Secretary Elaine Chao.

March 26, 2020 | DHS Extends REAL ID Enforcement Deadline to Oct. 1, 2021: The Department of Homeland Security announced it will publish a notice of the new deadline in the Federal Register in the coming days.

March 26, 2020 Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)- Adjusting Interview Requirements Due to COVID-19 Memo:The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a memo informing state agencies that under the second federal piece of legislation, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, that state agencies will not be required to complete interviews prior to approval of SNAP benefits, provided that the applicant’s identify has been verified and all other mandatory verifications have been completed.

March 26, 2020 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Makes it Easier to Feed Kids and Those Who Need Food During the COVID-19 National Emergency: The USDA shared a press release providing additional flexibilities to make it easier for children, senior and individuals with disabilities to get food during the pandemic by removing certain administrative roadblocks for the local staff who serve the meals. 

March 26, 2020 Federal Agencies Encourage Responsible Small-Dollar Loans to Consumers and Businesses: Five of the nation’s largest federal financial regulatory agencies released a joint statement encouraging banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions to issue small-dollar loans to consumers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Small-dollar loans can play an important role in meeting consumers’ credit needs during a time of unexpected expenses, temporary cash-blow disturbance, or income disruptions. The agencies further encouraged financial institutions to create strategies designed to help borrowers to repay the principal of the loan without needing to re-borrow if they have been affected by the virus outbreak.

March 26, 2020 | Emergency Use Authorizations Update from the FDA: The FDA has been working with over 220 test developers on developing a test that detect the COVID-19 virus. To date, 17 emergency use authorizations have been issued by the FDA for diagnostic tests.

March 26, 2020 | Federal Agencies Collaborate To Utilize 3D Printing Technologies to Respond to Virus: The FDA, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health, and others have agreed to a framework that would facilitate science and regulatory innovation using 3D printing technology to ensure that veterans and the general public have access to the most innovative medical products.

March 26, 2020 | FDA Releases Question and Answers Regarding Hand Sanitizer and How to Increase the Supply: The FDA posted a question and answer section seeking to provide consumer with more information about the effectiveness and availability of hand sanitizer in the fight against COVID-19, and what the agency is doing to increase the supply of it.

March 26, 2020 FDA Provides Temporary Flexibility of Nutrition Labeling on Certain Packaged Foods: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA has released guidance for restaurants who want to sell packaged food to consumers or to other businesses who want to sell to consumers. The guidance indicates that the FDA will not object if the packaged food does not have a nutrition facts label, as long as it doesn’t have any nutrition claims and includes other required information on the label such as a statement of identity, the name of the manufacturer or distributor, an ingredient statement, and other notifications.

March 26, 2020 CMS Releases Temporary FMAP Increase Guidance: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued guidance on the temporary 6.2 percentage-point increase in FMAP. Read the guidance.

March 26, 2020 | EPA Adds New Disinfectants For Use Against the Coronavirus: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) added 70 new surface disinfectants to EPA’s List-N of Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, bringing the total number of products on the list to more than 350. This list only includes surface disinfectants registered by the EPA, though other disinfection products like hand sanitizers and body wipes are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

March 25, 2020 DOE Issues Updated FAQ on Weatherization Assistance: The U.S. Department of Energy issued a memo concerning the department’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and how the program is being impacted by the novel COVID-19 pandemic. The memo contains information on the Impact of COVID-19 on the WAP workforce and clients, and what actions DOE is considering in light of the situation. 

March 25, 2020 Memorandum on Estimated State Education Grants in the Care Act: This memorandum is a preliminary estimate of the grants under the Education Stabilization Fund for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund and an Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, Assuming an Appropriation Level of $30.750 Billion.

March 25, 2020 | FDA Provides Immediate Guidance to Expand Availability of Face Masks and Respirators: The FDA announced new guidance that could potentially increase the availability of general use face masks to the public and particle filtering respirators for health care professionals.

March 25, 2020 |Secretary DeVos Stops Wage Garnishment, Collection Actions for Student Loan Borrowers: The Department of Education has halted all collection actions and wage garnishment for federal student loan borrowers for at least 60 days starting retroactively on March 13. The secretary directed the department to refund approximately $1.8 billion in offsets that have occurred since March 13 to more than 830,000 borrowers.

March 25, 2020 | Department of Labor Issues Additional Guidance on Employment Provisions: The Department of Labor posted a questions and answers page for the most pressing questions around the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

March 24, 2020 | Fraud Alert: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Warns of Scams Targeting Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) Recipients: The USDA issued a warning about potential scams to steal personal information of individuals receiving SNAP benefits after receiving several reports of fraud attempts.

March 24, 2020 | Administration for Community Living (ACL): The ACL has awarded an additional $250 million to grantees in states, territories and tribes to help communities provide meals for older adults especially for home-delivered and packaged meals.

March 24, 2020 | COVID-19: What People with HIV Should Know: The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 for people with HIV is not known. People with HIV may have concerns and questions related to their risk and may find the CDC’s FAQ webpage helpful.

March 24, 2020 | Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Announces Grants to Provide Meals Older Adult: HHS announced $250 million in grants from the Administration of Community Living to help provide food for older adults. This funding was included as a part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. A chart is included to show the amounts appropriated to states for this program.

March 24, 2020 | State and Territorial Agencies and Tribal Agencies Administering and Temporary Assistance for Needy and Families (TANF) Program: The Department of Health and Human Services released a Q&A document about TANF and COVID-19 to summarize the flexibilities in the TANF program respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 24, 2020 | Virtual Recovery Support Resources: In an infectious disease outbreak, when social distancing and self-quarantine are needed to limit and control the spread of the disease, continued social connectedness to maintain recovery is critically important.  This tip sheet describes resources that can be used to virtually support recovery from mental/substance use disorders. It also provides resources to help local recovery programs create virtual meetings.

March 24, 2020 COVID-19-What People with HIV Should Know: The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 for people with HIV is not known, people with HIV may have concerns and questions related to their risk and may find the CDC’s FAQ webpage helpful.

March 24, 2020  | TANF and COVID-19Frequently Asked Questions: The Department of Health and Human Services released an FAQ for states regarding how state and tribal grantees might use TANF to support people affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It also addresses TANF’s administrative flexibilities for both states and tribes. Topics include work requirements and participations rates, benefit alterations, and impacts on corrective compliance plans.

March 24, 2020 | Department of Transportation Announces Waiver of Trucker Regulations: USDOT announced it was waiving a number of regulations that govern the trucking industry workforce in response to the pandemic national emergency and the importance of ensuring supply lines and full workforce given their essential nature.       

March 2020 | Guidance on Temporarily Repurposing Head Start and Early Head Start Centers: The Office of Head Start shared guidance around the temporary repurposing of head start and early head start centers that are closed due to COVID-19 to provide childcare for medical staff and other individuals engaging in responding to the pandemic.

March 2020 | What Types of Ventilators Can be Used to Expand Supply?: The FDA issued guidance to expand the availability of ventilators as well as other respiratory devices and their accessories during this pandemic. 

March 23, 2020 | NIH Launches Resources for Healthcare Workers Dealing with COVID-19: The National Institutes of Health launched a website with key educational resources for coronavirus workers dealing with the spread of COVID-19. It provides worker-based training to help prevent and reduce exposure of hospital employees, emergency first responders, and other workers who are at risk of exposure to coronavirus through their work duties.

March 23, 2020 | HHS Office of Inspector General Issues COVID-19 Fraud Alert: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General released a COVID-19 Fraud Alert to warn about several health care fraud scams that harm patients and the federal programs designed to serve them. The alert has general information about these schemes and how to protect oneself and your community against bad actors.

March 23, 2020 | This Fact Sheet supplements Fact Sheet: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Emergency Protective Measures and provides an overview of the FEMA Public Assistance application process for recipients and applicants requesting reimbursement related to federal emergency and major disaster declarations for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). FEMA is simplifying the Public Assistance application and funding process to address the magnitude of this event and allow local officials to receive eligible funding more quickly.

March 23, 2020 | How has Nursing Home Inspection Guidance Changed? CMS released the findings from their inspection of Kirkland Nursing Home in Washington. As a result, nursing home guidance has changed and CMS has a new inspection process that will focus only on complaint inspections, targeted infection control inspections, and self-assessments.

March 23, 2020 | U.S. Census Adjusted Schedule: The U.S. Census Department has adjusted dates for conducting specific portions of the U.S. Census. It has released a timeline document and an explanatory document for public information.

March 23, 2020 | Coronavirus Rumor Control: FEMA has a rumor control page dedicated to questions on disinformation amid the COVID-19 response.

March 23, 2020 | What is the Latest Information for Individuals, Especially Those At-Risk and Older Individuals? CDC released a self-checker that helps users make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. This system is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19 or other diseases but can advise on next steps. CDC has updated their webpage that identifies the high risk populations including adults older than 65, residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities, individuals with high risk conditions (asthma, heart disease or immunocompromised individuals), and monitoring for people who are pregnant. CDC has also released additional information for older adults as well.  Additional guidance was released for local and state health departments, homelessness service systems, housing authorities, healthcare facilities and others on responding to COVID-19 among people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

March 22, 2020 | FEMA Releases Information Regarding National Guard Title 32 Status: President Donald Trump directed the secretary of defense to permit states to recieve full federal reimbursement, administered by FEMA for use of their National Guard forces. To date, President Trump has approved this authority to the following: California, Florida, Guam, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and Washington. Since then, the Administration has received requests from additional states seeking approval of federal support for use of their National Guard personnel in a Title 32 duty status.

March 22, 2020 | CMS Releases COVID-19 Checklists and Tools for State Medicaid & CHIP Programs: CMS created a toolkit for state Medicaid and CHIP programs consisting of four checklists concerning federal waivers and implementable flexibilities in their program. The four tools permit states to access emergency administrative relief, make temporary modifications to Medicaid eligibility and benefit requirements, relax rules to ensure that individuals with disabilities and the elderly can be effectively served in their homes, and modify payment rules to support health care providers impacted by the outbreak.

March 22, 2020 | Flexibility for Deadlines and Exceptions for Medicare Quality Reporting Requirements: CMS announced it is providing relief for clinicians, providers, hospitals and facilities by granting exceptions from reporting requirements and extensions for clinicians and providers participating in Medicare quality reporting programs with respect to upcoming measure reporting and data submission for those programs. The new deadlines and exceptions for reporting can be found here.

March 22, 2020 | How Can States Apply for COVID-19 Medicaid Waivers?: The agency has made it easier for states to receive federal waivers and implement flexibilities in their Medicaid program by creating four checklists that together will make up a comprehensive Medicaid COVID-19 federal authority checklist. The tools include information on how to apply for an 1115 Waiver Opportunity and Application Checklist, 1135 Waiver Checklist, 1915(c) Appendix K Template, Medicaid Disaster State Plan Template.

March 22, 2020 | FEMACOVID Advisory 3.22.20: Gives a broad update for FEMA actions so far under the national emergency declaration and “leading” the response.

March 22, 2020 | CISA and Treasury–Essential Critical Infrastructure: Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce  and Guidance on Financial Services Sector Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers are intended to support state, local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

March 22, 2020 | FEMA-Application Deadlines Extended for Five Additional Fiscal Year 2020 Preparedness Grant Programs: FEMA has extended the application deadlines for state/local grant programs from April 15, 2020 to April 30, 2020.

March 22, 2020 | Department of Homeland Security Designates Financial Services Sector as Critical Infrastructure: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has identified the financial services sector as critical infrastructure according to a memorandum released by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Sectors deemed critical infrastructure are seen as crucial to continuing functions necessary for public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. Financial services employees will maintain their normal work schedules to ensure that financial transactions are processed, provide consumers with banking and lending services, and to staff data and security operations centers. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released guidance on behalf of the DHS on the critical infrastructure designation.

March 22, 2020 | Federal Regulators and State Banking Supervisors Urge Financial Institutions to Work with Borrowers: The federal regulatory agencies that oversee financial institutions released an interagency statement with state banking regulators urging financial institutions to work constructively with borrowers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The regulators view loan modification as useful to helping loan performance and mitigating negative impacts caused by the virus in the near-term, and will not require the institutions that they supervise to automatically categorize a loan modification as a troubled debt restructuring. 

March 21, 2020 | How to Report COVID-19 Cases? CDC released information for state health departments on how to report COVID-19 cases to better track the impact of the outbreak and public health response.

March 20, 2020 Resources on Opioid Use Disorder Treatment: SAMHSA recognizes the challenges posed to treating Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) by the current COVID-19 situation and is providing this guidance and resources to assist individuals, providers, communities, and states across the country. 

March 20, 2020 | How to Avoid Fraudulent Products?: The FDA has issued a notice warning consumers that there is not presently an approved Coronavirus (COVID-19) home test kit.

March 20, 2020 | Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Announces Upcoming Action to Provide Funding to Tribes for COVID-19 Response: HHS announced that they would be awarding $80 to tribes, tribal organizations and Urban Indian Organizations for COVID-19 relief efforts. Read the full release.

March 20, 2020 | USDOT expands its previously issued emergency declaration for commercial trucking: The U.S. Department of Transportation provided additional relief from regulations. To ensure as little confusion as possible, the agency issued a frequently asked questions regarding the status of trucking regulations in response to the national pandemic. Concurrently it issued guidance to state drivers licensing agencies. 

March 20, 2020 | Secretary DeVos Announces Broad Flexibilities for States to Cancel Testing During National Emergency: U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today students impacted by school closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-2020 school year. Upon a proper request, the Department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year. The annoucement can be found here.

March 20, 2020 | Telehealth Toolkits for General Practitioners and End-Stage Renal Disease Providers: CMS released two toolkits today to help practitioners understand the broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Under this new waiver, Medicare can pay for office, hospital, and other visits furnished via telehealth across the country and including in patient’s places of residence starting March 6, 2020.  A range of providers, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, will be able to offer telehealth to their patients. The toolkit for General Practitioners can be found here and for ESRD providers here

March 20, 2020 | Resources for Business and Employers: Includes cleaning and disinfection recommendations, preparing your workplace for COVID-19, and strategies to respond if employees become infected. The webpage can be found here. As part of this resource, CDC released interim guidance to help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. The guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19. The guidance can be found here.

March 20, 2020 | CMS Approves Washington 1135 Waiver: Washington is the second state to receive 1135 waiver approval from CMS for flexibilities that enable the state to focus its resources on combatting the outbreak and provide the best possible care to Medicaid beneficiaries in their state. For more information on 1135 waivers and how to apply can be found here.

March 20, 2020 | FEMA Eligible Emergency Protective Measures: This fact sheet provides guidance on the types of emergency protective measures that may be eligible under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program in accordance with the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration in order to ensure that resource constraints do not inhibit efforts to respond to this unprecedented disaster. More information can be found here.

March 20, 2020 |FDA Advises on the Use of NSAIDs: At this time, FDA is not aware of scientific evidence connecting the use of NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, with worsening COVID-19 symptoms.  The agency is investigating this issue further and will communicate publicly when more information is available. More information about this issue can be found here.

March 20, 2020 |FDA Allows Expanded Use of Devices to Monitor Patients’ Vital Signs Remotely: FDA issued a new policy that allows manufacturers of certain FDA-cleared non-invasive, vital sign-measuring devices to expand their use so that health care providers can use them to monitor patients remotely. The devices include those that measure body temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure. The guidance can be found here.

March 20, 2020 | Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: The Department of Homeland Security identified essential critical infrastructure workers that are needed to maintain the services and functions that Americans depend on daily. Examples of the workforce include: communications, chemical, nuclear, energy, government facilities, healthcare and public health, defense industrial base, water, and many others. The memo can be found here.

March 20, 2020 | DHS–Border Closures: The U.S. and Canada announce the restriction of non-essential travel across the Northern Border effective March 21, 2020. U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Northern Border statement.  The U.S. and Mexico announce the restriction of non-essential travel across the Southern Border effective March 21, 2020. U.S.-Mexico Joint Statement on Southern Border.

March 19, 2020 | CISA releases Version 2.0 of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Worker Guidance: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s authorities to secure critical infrastructure. Consistent with these authorities, CISA has developed, in collaboration with other federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector, an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list. This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Additionally, this advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion. 

March 19, 2020 | COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Response and 42 CFR Part 2 Guidance: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released new guidance on 42 CFR Part 2 stating that in this state of emergency many providers are using telehealth to stay connected with their patients and when providers need to start providing care through telehealth that they are not always able to get a patient’s signature. 42 CFR Part 2 is a privacy regulation that prohibits health care providers from disclosing any information on a patient who is receiving Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment without the patients written consent, unless there is a medical emergency. The guidance further states that they believe health care providers can make their own determinations as to whether continuity of coverage for a SUD constitutes as a medical emergency and use telehealth to provide care to patients. Read the full guidance.

March 19, 2020 | FEMA–Procurement under Emergency or Exigent Circumstances for COVID-19 // Memo & Fact Sheet: Recognizing that FEMA’s recipients and subrecipients may face exigencies or emergencies when carrying out a FEMA award, this Fact Sheet provides key information to consider when utilizing contracted resources under exigent or emergency circumstances.

March 19, 2020 | HRSA Guidance on Policies for Health Centers: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has updated resources for health centers during the COVID-19 outbreak including guidance for centers requesting changes in scope or temporary privileging of clinical providers.

March 19, 2020 | FEMA–Non-Congregate Sheltering Delegation of Authority Waiver for COVID-19 Fact Sheet: FEMA’s regional administrators have been delegated authority to approve requests for non-congregate sheltering for the duration of the secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration of a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19.

March 19, 2020 | FEMABlood Drive Amplification Request: FEMA IGA again requested national association partners amplify thier request for increased blood donations: “Many of the blood drives that are critical to ensuring an adequate supply of blood to treat patients in hospitals who need emergency surgery or trauma patients have been cancelled at workplaces and college campuses across the country. Administrator Gaynor is requesting your assistance to ensure that your jurisdiction's emergency planning efforts appropriately prioritize the availability and accessibility of blood and blood products.”

March 18, 2020 | Letter to State Child Welfare Leaders: Dr. Jerry Milner, associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau sent a letter to state child welfare leaders informing them of the new flexibilities and changes during this time. Some of these changes included: stopping caseworkers from doing in-person monthly visits and replacing them with monthly videoconferences, Program Improvement Plan extensions for states when working in conjunction with federal agencies, and rescheduling reviews of Title IV-E Eligibility Reviews due to health concerns.

March 18, 2020 | CMS Issues FAQs for Catastrophic Health Coverage: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released an FAQ document that clarifies coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 aimed at providing flexibility to high deductible health plans to provide health benefits for diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 without application of a deductible or cost-sharing.

March 18, 2020 | FDA Issues Guidance on Clinical Trials of Medical Products during COVID-19 Pandemic: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a guidance for industry, investigators, and institutional review boards conducting clinical trials of medical products, including drugs, devices and biological products during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Considerations recommended include, among others, sponsors evaluating alternative methods for assessments, like phone contacts or virtual visits and offering additional safety monitoring for those trial participants who may no longer have access to investigational product or the investigational site.

March 18, 2020 | CMS Updates FAQs for Medicaid and CHIP: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released updated the fequently asked questions (FAQs) that includes answers to states' questions related to the flexibilities the CMS is affording to them in managed care, benefits, financing, 1115 demonstrations and leveraging “1135” waivers offered as part of the president’s declaration of a national emergency. States may submit questions to CMS through their state leads. Read the FAQs

March 18, 2020 | National Park Service to Temporarily Suspend Park Entrance Fees: Secretary of the Interior directed the National Park Service to temporarily suspend the collection of all park entrance fees until further notice. At a majority of park locations where it is currently possible to adhere to public health guidance, outdoor spaces remain open to the public, while many facilities will be closed. 

March 18, 2020 | Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance on Deferring Tax Payments Due to COVID-19 Outbreak: The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance allowing all individual and other non-corporate tax filers to defer up to $1 million of federal income tax (including self-employment tax) payments due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. The guidance also allows corporate taxpayers a similar deferment of up to $10 million of federal income tax payments that would be due on April 15, 2020, until July 15, 2020, without penalties or interest. This guidance does not change the April 15 filing deadline.  View the notice.

March 18, 2020 | FFHS Suspends Foreclosures and Evictions for Enterprise-Backed Mortgages: To help borrowers who are at risk of losing their home, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) to suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days due to the coronavirus national emergency. The foreclosure and eviction suspension applies to homeowners with an Enterprise-backed single-family mortgage.  Earlier this month, FHFA announced that the Enterprises would provide payment forbearance to borrowers impacted by the coronavirus. Forbearance allows for a mortgage payment to be suspended for up to 12 months due to hardship caused by the coronavirus.

March 18, 2020 | TSA Update on State Issued Driver’s License: Travelers with a state driver’s license that expired beginning on March 1, 2020, and who are not able to renew at their state driver’s license agency may still use it as acceptable identification at the checkpoint. TSA will accept expired driver’s licenses a year after the expiration date, plus 60 days after the duration of the COVID-19 national emergency.

March 17, 2020 | CMS Guidance to Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Organizations: Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries that participate in PACE typically have chronic conditions, are older and therefore at higher risk for COVID-19. The guidance offers clear, actionable information to PACE organizations on accepted policies and standard procedures with respect to infection control. Read more information about the guidance.

March 17, 2020 | CDC Provides Updated FAQs for Healthcare Professionals: CDC updated their frequently asked questions for healthcare personnel to include information for pregnant healthcare workers. Read the FAQs.

March 17, 2020 | USDA Announces School Nutrition Partnership for Rural Communities in Response to COVID-19: In collaboration with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo, and other partners the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will deliver nearly 1,000,000 meals a week to students in a limited number of rural schools closed due to COVID-19. The program, called Meals-to-You, is normally a summer food service option that will allow select rural districts the ability to scale up capacity to deliver prepackage, easy to prepare, nutritious meals to students at their doorstep during emergency school closures.

For more information about specifics of the program and how to apply, visit the USDA website and read the Baylor University eligibility guidelines.

March 17, 2020 | The Office of Inspector General (OIG) Policy Statement Regarding Physicians and Other Practitioners That Reduce or Waive Amounts Owed by Federal Health Care Program Beneficiaries for Telehealth Services During the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): OIG provided guidance to physician and health care providers around new greater flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive beneficiary cost-sharing to telehealth visits paid for by federal health care programs. For more information read the announcement. An additional fact sheet was shared with health care providers.

March 17, 2020 | SBA Updates Criteria on States for Requesting Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19): The Small Business Administration issued revised criteria for states or territories seeking an economic injury declaration related to Coronavirus (COVID-19).  The relaxed criteria will have two immediate impacts:

  • Faster, easier qualification process for states seeking SBA disaster assistance. Historically, the SBA has required that any state or territory impacted by disaster provide documentation certifying that at least five small businesses have suffered substantial economic injury as a result of a disaster, with at least one business located in each declared county/parish. Under the just-released, revised criteria, states or territories are only required to certify that at least five small businesses within the state/territory have suffered substantial economic injury, regardless of where those businesses are located.
  • Expanded, statewide access to SBA disaster assistance loans for small businesses. SBA disaster assistance loans are typically only available to small businesses within counties identified as disaster areas by a governor. Under the revised criteria issued today, disaster assistance loans will be available statewide following an economic injury declaration. This will apply to current and future disaster assistance declarations related to coronavirus.

For additional information, please visit the SBA disaster assistance website at sba.gov/disaster.

March 17, 2020 | Secretary Azar Announces Historic Expansion of Telehealth Access to Combat COVID-19: The Trump administration and HHS announced unprecedented steps to expand Americans' access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Centers for Medicare & and Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded Medicare coverage for telehealth visits, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced it will waive potential HIPAA penalties for good faith use of telehealth during the emergency, and the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) provided flexibility for health care providers to reduce or waive beneficiary cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal health care programs. For more information, see links to the CMS press release, OCR guidance and the OIG policy statement.  

March 16, 2020 | Federal Transit Administration (FTA): The FTA announced that, under its Emergency Relief Program, funds will be made available to provide assistance to transit agencies for expenses related to COVID-19 if the governor in the state has declared a state of emergency. Transit agencies are allowed to use federal formula funds for emergency-related capital and operating expenses and permits operating expenses to be covered at 80% federal share. The FTA is also allowing transit agencies to request temporary relief from federal requirements if the governor has declared a state of emergency. View a frequently asked questions document issued by the FTA. Additionally, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced that its emergency relief provisions are in effect, which permits railroads to request expedited consideration of waiver requests as a result of COVID-19.  

March 16, 2020 | FDA Expands Testing Capabilities: On Monday night, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn announced that states can set up their own system in which they take responsibility for authorizing such tests and the laboratories will not need to engage with the FDA to conduct COVID-19 testing. The updated guidance also expands the types of labs that can conduct testing and provides recommendations for test developers who are interested in developing a test. The FDA has established 1-888-INFO-FDA to help labs with any questions they may have about the Emergency Use Authorization process, FDA policies or getting supplies. Similar to approving Roche testing last week, yesterday the FDA also issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) to Hologic and LabCorp for their tests. 

March 15, 2020 | Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Adult Elective Surgery and Procedures Recommendations: CMS released recommendations on what procedures should be kept or postponed and which to consider postponing to conserve much critical hospital resources and limiting exposure to patients. Read the recommendations.

March 13, 2020 | EPA Expands Disinfectants to Fight Coronavirus: EPA has expanded its list of disinfectants qualified for use against the coronavirus. The list now includes 200 additional products beyond what EPA initially identified, including 40 new products put through an expedited review. Though some of these products were not tested specifically against the SARS-CoV-2 strain, EPA notes these disinfectants were known to kill more resilient viruses. The list now also denotes how long surfaces must stay wet for the product to work.

March 13, 2020 | USDOT Provides Flexibility for Trucking Deliveries of Medical Supplies: The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) suspended some trucking regulations for drivers carrying medical supplies, as part of an emergency declaration issued on the heels of President Donald Trump's national emergency announcement on Friday. Drivers carrying a broad range of medical supplies and equipment to be used for the treatment of Covid-19, including masks, hand sanitizer, food needed for emergency restocking of stores and more, are exempt from rules that limit how long drivers can be on the road, including hours of service requirements.

Additionally, on March 18, the USDOT expanded the list of exempted goods to cover truckers carrying paper products and other groceries, as well as materials needed for manufacturing of medical supplies and other items.

March 12, 2020 | Administration of Children and Families, Health and Human Services Division Updates on COVID-19 (Letter): Elizabeth Darling, commissioner of the Administration of Children, Youth and Families under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent a letter to Child Welfare professionals providing a summary of updates on what HHS is doing to address COVID-19. Read the full letter here.

March 11, 2020 | The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to Award Over $560 to State & Local Jurisdictions in Support of COVID-19 Response: The CDC announced awards of a total of $560 million to state and local jurisdictions to address COVID-19. This funding was appropriated through HR 6074 that was signed into law on March 6, 2020. For a full list of what state and local jurisdictions will be receiving, you can read more here.