COVID-19: Daily Announcements From Federal Agencies

10/7/2020

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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 announcements on March 13.

September 2020

September 2020 | Nationwide COVID-19 Testing Sites: HHS has posted information on community-based COVID-19 testing sites. Tests are available at no cost nationwide at health centers and select pharmacies. Under the CARES Act COVID-19 testing is free to anyone in the U.S.,  including the uninsured.

Oct. 1, 2020 | HHS Teams Up with The Rockefeller Foundation: The agency announced their work with The Rockefeller Foundation to share best practices for increased COVID-19 testing. Both parties have signed an agreement to identify and share effective approaches for using rapid point-of-care (POC) tests to screen for COVID-19 with a focus on safely reopening K-12 schools.

Sept. 30, 2020 | Health Information Exchanges to Support Public Health Agencies: The agency awarded funds for Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) to support Public Health Agencies’ response to disasters and pandemics, including funding from the CARES Act. Resources were awarded to five organizations to public agencies access, share and use health information during emergencies.

Sept. 30, 2020 | COVID-19 Testing for Underserved Communities: The NIH award, $234 million in funding, will support 32 institutions through The Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program.

Sept. 23, 2020 | COVID-19 Vaccine Preparedness: HHS announced that the CDC will provide $200 million to jurisdictions for COVID-19 vaccine preparedness.

Sept. 23, 2020 | Antibody point-of-care test for COVID-19: The FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first antibody point-of-care test for COVID-19. The test device was first authorized for emergency use by certain labs in July 2020 to help identify those with antibodies to COVID-19, that would indicate a recent or prior infection. The FDA has reissued that EUA to authorize the test for using fingerstick blood samples, that can now be tested in places like doctor’s offices, hospitals, urgent care centers and emergency rooms.

Sept. 18, 2020 | CDC Revises COVID-19 Testing: The CDC has updated previously revised guidance for COVID-19 testing. New guidance says that testing for asymptomatic people exposed to COVID-19 are recommended for treatment and contact tracing.

Sept. 15, 2020 | The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Released Indicators for In-Person School Transmission: The tool is designed to help school administrators and local health officials make decisions about beginning, continuing, or pausing in-person learning. The CDC recommends the use of three indicators: The number of new cases per 100,000 persons within the last 14 days, the percentage of tests that are positive during the last 14 days, and one self-assessed measure of schools' ability to adhere to various mitigation strategies. Read more. 

Sept. 1, 2020 | HHS Provides 125M Face Masks to Schools: Up to 125 million face masks will be provided to states for distribution to schools. Masks will be allocated according to each state’s share of low-income students. 

Sept. 1, 2020 | Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) Now Eligible for COVID-19 Provider Relief Fund: HHS made the announcement that ALF may now apply for funding through the Provider Relief Fund Phase 2 General Distributions allocation. Provider have until September 13 to begin their application.

August 2020

Aug. 11, 2020 | State Testing Plans Now Publicly Available: HHS has published an all 50 state COVID-19 testing plans. Posting the plans allows states to view others’ approaches, plans and strategies and create new methods moving forward. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) awarded a total of $10.25 billion to states, territories, and localities to help implement the goals of each jurisdiction’s testing plan, with goals to improve testing for minorities and other vulnerable groups.  

July 2020

July 31, 2020 | HHS Announces an Extension to the Application Deadline for Medicaid and Medicare Providers: HHS extended the application deadline for the Phase 2 general distribution to Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and dental providers. Providers now have until Aug. 28, 2020 to apply for these federal programs. By extending the deadline, certain Medicare providers get a second chance to apply for federal assistance due to COVID-19 expenses, and providers who had a change in ownership get to apply for the Provider Relief Fund payment.  

July 10, 2020 | $4 Billion in Additional Relief Payments to Healthcare Providers: HHA announces an additional relief package to healthcare providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals serving a large percentage of vulnerable populations on thin margins is set to receive $3 billion and approximately $1 billion will go to specialty rural hospitals, urban hospitals with certain rural Medicare designations, and hospitals in small metropolitan areas. HHS expects to distribute over $3 billion across 215 acute care facilities, bringing the total payments for safety net hospitals from the Provider Relief Fund to $12.8 billion to 959 facilities.

July 10, 2020 | May and June COVID-19 State Testing Plans: State plans from all states, territories and localities on COVID-19 testing from May and June will be publicly available. Testing strategies from other states and localities can be used as road maps for how to reach vulnerable populations including minorities, immunocompromised individuals and older adults.

July 9, 2020 | $21 Million to Health Centers for COVID-19 Response: HHS awards HRSA $21 million to be distributed to health centers to help their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the funding will be used to expand health centers’ capabilities for COVID-19 testing, with $17 million to support 78 Health Center Program look-alikes

July 7, 2020 | HHS and DOD Partner with Regeneron for COVID-19 Therapeutic Treatment Project: HHS and DOD announce their partnership with Regeneron, Inc. to demonstrate a commercial-scale manufacturing of the company’s COVID-19 investigational anti-viral antibody treatment, REGN-COV2. The partnership allows the federal government to own the doses of the anti-viral treatment expected to result from the demonstration project. The company estimates between 70,000 and 300,000 treatment doses could be available from this project, with the initial doses ready as early as end of summer and completed this fall.

July 7, 2020 | HHS and DOD Partner with Novavax to Produce Doses of Experimental Vaccine: In a $1.6 billion agreement with Novavax, HHS and DOD set out to demonstrate commercial-scale manufacturing of the private company’s COVID-19 investigational vaccine. This agreement allows the federal government to own the 100 million doses of the investigational vaccine expected to result from the demonstration projects. As a part of Operation Warp Speed, the vaccine doses will become available for clinical trials to investigate their effectiveness. 

July 7, 2020 | Increase in COVID-19 Testing for Hotspot Jurisdictions: HHS announced free COVID-19 testing for Jacksonville, Florida; Baton Rouge, AR; and Edinburgh, TX. The temporary funding increases federal support in places where there has been an intense rise in positive cases and hospitalizations. Testing at surge locations is available to people five years and older who have been exposed, are experiencing symptoms, at a high risk for exposure, or those worried about contracting COVID-19. 

July 6, 2020 |  FDA Authorizes EUA for Rapid Diagnostic Test: The Food and Drug Administration granted an Emergency Use Authorization for a rapid, point-of-care, SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test called a BD Veritor Plus System. Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D. believes that the test will help identify community spread of the virus by further enabling rapid diagnosis of COVID-19.

July 6, 2020 | EPA Announces First Disinfectants Proven against COVID-19: The EPA announced that it has approved the first two surface disinfectant products, Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Max Cover Disinfectant Mist as effective against COVID-19. The agency also maintains a list (List N) of over 400 products from manufacturers that submit data to the agency showing their disinfectants are effective against harder-to-kill viruses that are similar to COVID-19.

June 2020

June 29, 2020 | New Supplies of Remdesivir for the United States: HHS announced an agreement that will secure large supplies of remdesivir from Gilead Sciences through September and will allow American hospitals to purchase the drug in amounts allocated by HHS and state health departments. 

June 26, 2020 | Guidance Issued for Healthcare Facilities: In conjunction with the CDC, CMS issued guidance for healthcare facilities entering Phase II to begin preparing for their non-emergent, non-COVID-19 care, including visitation guidelines in buildings such as nursing homes and hospitals. CMS recommends that every visitor be screened for COVID-19 and complete reopening of facilities should wait until Phase III.

June 24, 2020 | Changes to Staffing Information and Quality Measures on Nursing Homes: CMS announced plans to end the Medicare emergency blanket waiver requiring all nursing homes to resume submitting staffing data by Aug. 14, 2020. The reporting system CMS uses to collect nursing home staffing information impacts the quality of patient care. The waiver was intended to temporarily allow the agency to concentrate on combating COVID-19 and reduce administrative burden on nursing homes. 

June 24, 2020 | Treasury Updates the Coronavirus Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions: The Department of Treasury has updated its guidance on the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for state, territorial, local, and tribal governments. Through the CRF, the CARES Act provides payments to state, local, and tribal governments navigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 23, 2020 | Nursing Home Guidance for Visitors Released: CMS released guidance on reopening nursing homes to visitors using a FAQ sheet. Nursing homes can open up to visitors depending on incidence of COVID-19 cases in a 28-day period. The FAQ sheet discusses reopening before Phase III, compassionate care situations, factors to consider for visitation, and testing strategies.

June 19, 2020 | CDC Released COVID-19 Case Surveillance Report: The CDC  report describes COVID-19 case surveillance in the United States and demographic characteristics, underlying health conditions, symptoms and outcomes among the 1,320,4888 confirmed COVID-19 cases that were reported individually between Jan. 22 through May 30,2020. 

June 18, 2020 | HHS Funds to Grow and Train the Health Workforce: HHS announced $107.2 million in funding to 310 recipients to help increase the health workforce in rural and underserved communities. 45 states and U.S. territories have received funding to help improve the quality, distribution, and diversity of health professionals. 

June 15, 2020 | FDA COVID-19 Update on EUA: The FDA revoked the emergency use authorization (EUA) that allowed for certain drugs to be donated to the Strategic National Stockpile as a treatment for patients who had been hospitalized due to COVID-19. The drugs, chloroquine, phosphate and hydroxychloroquine, have been determined by the agency to unlikely be effective in treating COVID-19 for the authorized uses in the EUA. 

June 8, 2020 | FMCSA Updates Emergency Rules for Truck Drivers: The federal motor carrier safety administration extended and modified its emergency declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the agency will continue to allow commercial motor vehicle operators to disregard hours of service for delivery of certain medical products necessary to fight the pandemic, those operators delivering food will now have to abide existing requirements. The agency first issued a relaxation of requirements for operators back in March

June 3, 2020 | COVID-19 Supplemental Funding: HHS has announced another round of funding that will help providers respond to COVID-19. The agency has disbursed $250 million, provided by Congress in the CARES Act, to go to providers to help expand telehealth services, train staff, procure supplies and personal protective equipment PPE and better coordinate their overall response. 

June 3, 2020 | The FDA Provides New Web-based Resource, Testing Supply Substitution Strategies: The file contains information to help support labs performing authorized COVID-19 tests and an interactive ability that includes validated supply alternatives that labs can use to continue performing testing when there are supply issues. This information is not intended to alter any already issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 diagnostic test.

June 2, 2020 | Pandemic Challenges Highlight the Importance of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety: The FDA has issued a new piece, “Pandemic Challenges Highlight the Importance of the New Era of Smarter Food Safety.” and bylined by Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs, and Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response. Plans for the New Era initiative were put on hold in order to prioritize the agency's COVID-19 response. The FDA will release the blueprint in the coming weeks, outlining plans over the next decade to create a more digital, traceable, and safer food system.

June 2, 2020 | CDC Releases Several COVID-19 Guidance Documents: The CDC has released several COVID-19 guidance documents for individuals with disabilities. The resources include: Guidance for Direct Service Providers, Guidance for Group Homes for Individuals with Disabilities, a resource for direct service providers, caregivers and parents of individuals with disabilities and a final resource for those with developmental or behavioral disorders including information on maintaining routine care, managing stress and mental health. 

May 2020

May 2020 | Department of Education releases CARES Maintenance of Effort guidance: The U.S. Department of Education released guidance on the maintenance of effort (MOE) provision for the Education Stabilization Fund in the CARES Act. The CARES Act requires states that accept either the K-12 or governor’s funds to maintain support for both K-12 and higher education in fiscal years (FY) 2020 and 2021 at a level that is at least equal to the average of funding levels for FY 2017- FY2019. The guidance explains the methodologies states may use to quantify their support for K-12 and higher education. Notably, the department says they do not anticipate reviewing MOE waiver requests for either FY20 or FY21 until September 2021.

May 29, 2020 | Cyber Essentials Toolkit: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released the first in a series of six Cyber Essentials Toolkits. CISA’s toolkits will provide greater detail, insight and resources on each of the Cyber Essentials’ six “Essential Elements” of a Culture of Cyber Readiness. Today’s launch highlights the first “Essential Element: Yourself, The Leader” and will be followed each month by a new toolkit to correspond with each of the six “Essential Elements.” Toolkit 1 focuses on the role of leadership in forging a culture of cyber readiness in their organization with an emphasis on strategy and investment. 

May 28, 2020 | USDA Releases Final Rule for Coronavirus Aid to Farmers: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the final rule regarding the direct aid portion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The CFAP will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 28, 2020.

May 28, 2020 | Treasury Updates the Coronavirus Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions: The Department of Treasury has updated its guidance on the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for state, territorial, local, and tribal governments. Through the CRF, the CARES Act provides payments to state, local, and tribal governments navigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

May 27, 2020 | CDC Releases Several COVID-19 Guidance Documents: The CDC has released several COVID-19 guidance documents for individuals with disabilities. The resources includes Guidance for Direct Service Providers, Guidance for Group Homes for Individuals with Disabilities, a resource for direct service providers, caregivers and parents of individuals with disabilities and a final resource for those with developmental or behavioral disorders including information on maintaining routine care, managing stress and mental health. 

May 26, 2020 | CMS Programs and Payment for Care in Hospital Alternate Care Sites FAQs: HHS announced that $500 million in payments will be made from the Provider Relief Fund to the Indian Health Service (HIS) and tribal hospitals, clinics and urban health centers to support the tribal response to COVID-19. Learn more on how HHS distributed funds to HIS as well as patients served by Urban Indian Organizations.

May 22, 2020 | HHS Announces Funding for Nursing Facilities: HHS announced the distributing of funds to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). The agency will begin giving out additional relief funds to help SNFs to deal with the impact of the pandemic and will help support nursing homes suffering from significant expenses or lost revenue due to COVID-19. 

May 19, 2020 | CMS Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) COVID-19 Test Pricing: CMS developed two codes that laboratories can use to bill for certain COVID-19 lab tests, including serology tests. CMS has updated its guidance to include payment details for additional CPT codes created by the American Medical Association. There is no cost-sharing for Medicare patients.

May 19, 2020 | CMS COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers: CMS continues to release waivers that provide flexibilities needed to take care of patients during COVID-19. The agency recently provided additional blanked waivers for the duration of the public health emergency (PHE) that will modify existing physical environment waivers to allow for increased flexibilities for surge capacity and patient quarantine at hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and critical access hospitals as a result of COVID-19, and modify the data collection period and data reporting period for ground ambulance organizations. 

May 19, 2020 | CDC Announces Guidance for Reopening Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance on reopening schools, which includes a school decision tool to assist administrators with making reopening decisions for K-12 schools. The considerations in the guidance are supplemental and do not replace any state and local health and safety laws, rules, and regulations.

May 19, 2020 | CISA Version 3.1 Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: This document gives guidance to state, local, tribal, and territorial jurisdictions and the private sector on defining essential critical infrastructure workers. Promoting the ability of such workers to continue to work during periods of community restriction, access management, social distancing, or closure orders/directives is crucial to community resilience and continuity of essential functions.

May 19, 2020 | USDA Releases Final Rule for Coronavirus Direct Aid to Farmers: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the final rule regarding the direct aid portion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). The CFAP  will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Aid is available to farmers who produced qualifying crops or livestock and suffered a 5% or greater price loss. For a full list of eligible crops, visit can the USDA Farmers' webpage.

May 13, 2020 | CMS Releases Toolkit on State Actions to Mitigate COVID-19 Prevalence in Nursing Homes: CMS released a new toolkit to assist nursing homes, Governors, states, departments of health and other agencies who provide oversight and assistance to these facilities along with resources to assist with COVID-19 and its impact in nursing homes. The toolkit builds upon previous actions by CMS and is comprised of best practices from a variety of frontline health care providers, Governors’ COVID-19 task forces, associations and other organizations and experts. 

May 11, 2020 | HUD Allocates Third Wave of Funding to States: Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced the release of the third wave, $1 billion, of funding made available to states and insular areas through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). Allocations are based on a formula that focuses on public health needs, risk of transmission, the rate in which a state has active cases, and the economic disruption a state is enduring. Accordingly, the formula was written to provide places with higher than the national average in COVID-19 cases with a slightly higher share of the funding. Funds can be used to provide a wide range of services to respond to COVID-19.

May 8, 2020 | COVID-19 Disinformation Activity: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a new CISA Insights titled, “COVID-19 Disinformation Activity.” This CISA Insights provides guidance to deter false information and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19. It provides factual information to counteract inaccurate claims and provides simple steps the public can take to fact check information and minimize the risk of spreading false or misleading content.  

May 8, 2020 | Trump Administration Announces New Nursing Homes COVID-19 Transparency Effort: Nursing homes will be required to report the first week of COVID-19 data to the CDC with a deadline to report by May 17. This will be the first time that all 15,000 nursing homes will be reporting data directly to the CDC and is the first kind of reporting requirement in the agency’s history. CMS had announced in April that they would requiring nursing home facilities to report COVID-19 information to the CDC and to families. 

May 7, 2020 | FDA Releases Update on Combating Fraudulent COVID-19 Medical Products: The FDA updated the Agency’s efforts to combat efforts by companies and individuals that are exploiting or taking advantage of fear among consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA has taken and will continue to take a number of steps to find and stop those selling unapproved products that fraudulently claim to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19.

May 7, 2020 | FDA Authorized the First Diagnostic COVID-19 Test: The FDA authorized the first diagnostic test with the option of using home-collected saliva samples for COVID-19 testing. The agency issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory for their COVID-19 laboratory developed test (LDT. This will build on April’s EUA for the first diagnostic test with a home-collection option, which uses a sample collected from the patient's nose with a nasal swab and saline.

May 6, 2020 | FCC Approves Second 5th-Set of Telehealth Programs Under COVID-19: The FCC approved its fifth set of telehealth funding applications under the new COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which was authorized by the CARES Act. The program has so far funded 56 health care providers in 23 states.

May 4, 2020 | FEMA Announced Supplemental Funding Through CARES Act: FEMA announced $200 million in supplemental funding allocations to local jurisdictions across the country to supplement local service organizations providing resources to those with economic emergencies. Congress also appropriated $120 million in FY 2019 funding to the Emergency Food and Shelter Program totaling $320 million to be awarded in early June 2020 throughout the country. 

May 4, 2020 | Department of Treasury Updated FAQs Guidance on Coronavirus Relief Fund: The Treasury Department issued additional frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to guidance issued on April 22 on the use of monies from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The revised FAQs can be found here

May 1, 2020 | FDA Updated Convalescent Plasma Guidance: The FDA updated its guidance on convalescent plasma, providing clarification for investigators on how to submit investigational applications for COVID-19 convalescent plasma. The guidance also includes updated information regarding potential donors

May 1, 2020 | FDA Issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Antiviral Drug: The FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir. This will allow for the drug to be distributed in the U.S. and administered by health care providers when appropriate. The drug has been used to treat symptoms in adults and children that have been hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19. 

May 1, 2020 | Health and Human Services (HHS) and The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): HHS through HRSA has launched a new COVID-19 Uninsured Program portal. The portal will allow health care providers who have done COVID-19 testing or treatment for uninsured individuals on or after Feb. 4, 2020 to request claims for reimbursement.

May 1, 2020 | PHMSA Issues New COVID-19 FAQs: The Pipeline and Hazard Materials Safety Administration released new frequently asked questions guidance document to provide updates on a number topics related to the departments response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

April 2020

April 30, 2020 | HRSA Release CARES Act Funds: The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $20 million to increase telehealth access and infrastructure for health care providers and families to prevent and respond to COVID-19. Funds can be used to increase capability, capacity and access to telehealth and distance care services, and will also help telehealth providers with cross-state licensure to improve access to health care during the pandemic. 

April 30, 2020 | Education Department Provides $1.4B to HBCUs, Minority Serving Institutions and Colleges and Universities Serving Low-Income Students: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that $1.4 billion in additional CARES Act funding will be directed to Minority Serving Institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities, as well as institutions serving low-income students. Institutions may use this funding to cover operational costs, such as lost revenue, reimbursements for prior expenses and payroll. Funds may also be used for technology costs and grants to cover the costs of attendance for eligible students. Institutional allocations can be found here. Schools have until Aug. 1, 2020, to apply for the funds. 

April 29, 2020 | Data Protection: The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s released a one-page flyer on data protection and cybersecurity to help protect against ransomware attacks.

April 27, 2020 | Education Department Does Not Recommend IDEA Waivers, Asks Congress to Consider Other Flexibilities: Education Secretary Betsey DeVos announced that she is not recommending that Congress pass any additional waiver authority concerning the Free Appropriate Public Education and Least Restrictive Environment requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The department is requesting that Congress consider additional flexibilities on administrative requirements under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and IDEA.

April 27, 2020 | Education Department Announces $300M in Grant Competitions for States: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced two grant competitions with funds authorized by the CARES Act: $180 million for “Rethink K12 Education Models Grants” and $127.5 million for the “Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grant.” Within the “Rethink” competition, state education agencies can apply for funds under one of three priorities: microgrants for families for access to technology and educational services, statewide virtual learning and course access programs, or new models for providing remote education. Approximately 13-14 grants will be awarded through the “Rethink” competition. The “Reimagining Workforce” competition will award around 8-9 grants to expand short-term postsecondary programs and work-based learning programs. For additional information about how to apply, please visit the OESE website.

April 23, 2020 | CDC Release CARES Act Funds: The CDC awarded $631 million in CARES Act funding to states and localities to provide additional resources through the existing Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases cooperative agreement. This funding is part of the $1.5 billion provided to states, local governments, territories and tribes. 

April 22, 2020 | CMS Releases Additional Waivers for Long-Term Care Hospitals, Rural Health Clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers and Intermediate Care Facilities: CMS continues to release waivers for the healthcare community that provide the flexibilities needed to take care of patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency. CMS recently provided additional blanket waivers related to caring for patients in long-term care hospitals, temporary expansion locations of rural health clinics and federally Qualified Health Centers, staffing and training modifications in intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and the limit for substitute billing arrangements.

April 22, 2020 | Updated Guidance Available for Plan Issuers on Prior Authorization, CARES Act Implementation: CMS issued guidance to issuers of individual, small group, Medicare Advantage, and Part D plans addressing the flexibilities available related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. New guidance for individual and small group health plans encourages issuers to utilize flexibilities related to utilization management processes, as permitted by state law, to ensure that staff at hospitals, clinics and pharmacies can focus on care delivery and ensure that patients do not experience care delays.

April 22, 2020 | Updated Guidance Medicare Advantage and Part D: Updated guidance for Medicare Advantage and Part D plans allows them to implement a number of additional flexibilities to support efforts that can help curb the spread of the virus and to ensure enrollees do not experience disruptions in care or in pharmacy and prescription drug access. The guidance also implements important provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act regarding coverage for COVID-19 testing and testing related services.

April 22, 2020 | Compliance Flexibilities Announced for Implementation of Interoperability Final Rules Due to COVID-19: In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), in conjunction with the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), announced a policy of enforcement discretion to allow compliance flexibilities regarding the implementation of the interoperability final rules announced on March 9, 2020. ONC, CMS and OIG will continue to monitor the implementation landscape to determine if further action is needed.

April 22, 2020 | Administration Launches New Toolkit to Help States Navigate COVID-19 Health Workforce Challenges: CMS and the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response released a new toolkit to help state and local healthcare decision makers maximize workforce flexibilities when confronting COVID-19 in their communities. Developed by the Healthcare Resilience Task Force as part of the unified government’s response to COVID-19, the toolkit includes a full suite of available resources such as information on funding flexibilities, liability protections and workforce training to maximize responsiveness based on state and local needs.

April 22, 2020 | HRSA Launches a New Telehealth Website: The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has launched a new telehealth website to assist patients and providers in navigating the telehealth landscape. 

April 22, 2020 | HHS Awards $165 million to combat COVID-19 in rural communities: HHS, through the Health Resources and Services Administration has awarded nearly $165 million to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in rural communities. Recipients and award amounts can be found here.

April 22, 2020 | Treasury Releases Coronavirus Relief Fund Guidance: The Department of Treasury issued guidance outlining the authorized expenditures allowed for funds disbursed to eligible recipients from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) as established from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A broad range of expenses are permissible, but neither revenue replacement for budget shortfalls nor federal Medicaid cost sharing requirements are allowable expenditures under this guidance.  Please visit the Department of Treasury’s COVID-19 response site here for more detailed information regarding these covered expenditures. Treasury also posted an FAQ.

April 21, 2020 | CMS Issues Guidance Allowing Independent Freestanding Emergency Departments to Provide Care to Medicare and Medicaid Beneficiaries during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency: CMS issued critical guidance allowing licensed, independent freestanding emergency departments (IFED) in Colorado, Delaware, Rhode Island and Texas to temporarily provide care to Medicare and Medicaid patients to address any surge resulting from COVID-19. Current law does not recognize IFEDs as a certified Medicare provider, meaning they cannot bill Medicare and Medicaid for services. However, during this public health emergency, these entities can be temporarily certified as a hospital to increase healthcare system capacity as part of each state’s pandemic plan.
 

April 21, 2020 | FDA authorizes first at-home COVID diagnostic test: The FDA has authorized the first diagnostic test with an at-home sample collection option for COVID-19. Specifically, the FDA re-issued the emergency use authorization for the Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) COVID-19 RT-PCR Test to permit testing at home using LabCorp's Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kit. The testing consists of a sample collected from the patient's nose using a designated self-collection kit that contains nasal swabs and saline. After patients self-swab, they mail their sample in an insulated package to a LabCorp lab for testing. LabCorp intends to make the Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test home collection kits available to consumers in most states, with a doctor's order, in the coming weeks.

April 21, 2020 | ED Provides $6 Billion in Additional Grant Funding to Support Higher Education Institutions: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced an additional $6.2 billion in grant funding to support higher education institutions. The funding is available through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act. The funding for these "Recipient Institutional Costs" is separate from the funding previously made available for "Emergency Financial Aid Grants to Students." To access the funds, higher education institutions must submit a Certification and Agreement for Recipient Institutional Costs, which can be found here.

April 17, 2020 | Essential Critical Infrastructure Worker Guidance v. 3.0: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released Version 3.0 of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers list. Version 3.0 provides clarity around a range of positions needed to support the critical infrastructure functions laid out in the original guidance and Version 2.0. This iteration includes a reorganization of the section around Healthcare and Public Health and more detail to clarify essential workers; emphasis for emergency medical services workers, and adds lawyers and legal aid workers.

April 17, 2020 | NIH to launch public-private partnership to Speed COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Options: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Foundation for the NIH announced the launch of a public-private sector partnership to speed the development of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options. The Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership will develop a collaborative framework for prioritizing vaccine and drug candidates, streamlining clinical trials, coordinating regulatory processes and/or leveraging assets among all partners to rapidly respond to the COVID-19 and future pandemics.

April 17, 2020 | Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: The U.S. Department of Agricutlure announced the creation of the $19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). CFAP makes use of a combination of the funding and authorities provided in the CARES Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and other USDA existing authorities to provide assistance to farmers, ranchers, and consumers.  ​​​​

April 17, 2020 | Congressional Research Service Report: Congressional Oversight Provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136): CRS released a report that summarizes the oversight provisions in the CARES Act designed to increase the information available to Congress regarding the federal government’s implementation of the act.

April 17, 2020 | Small Business Administration Provides Information on Paycheck Protection Program Loan Allocation: The Small Business Administration has released information detailing how small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program have been allocated by state, industry, and average loan size. The funding for Paycheck Protection loans officially ran out on April 16th, with Congress currently in negotiations to appropriate more money to the program. 

April 16, 2020 | FDA’s Perspective on Food Safety and Availability During and Beyond COVID-19: Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas talks about the state of the U.S. food supply, both now and beyond this public health crisis in an interview. He talked about food safety and food availability, as well as an update on implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and plans to release a blueprint for the New Era of Smarter Food Safety initiative.

April 16, 2020 | FDA Provides Tips for Grocery Shopping During the COVID-19 Pandemic: The FDA provided tips on grocery shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic. These materials reassure consumers that there is currently no evidence of human or animal food or food packaging being associated with transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

April 16, 2020 | FDA Encourages Recovered Patients to Donate Plasma for Development of Blood-Related Therapies: The FDA provided an update on one potential treatment called convalescent plasma and is encouraging those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma to help others fight this disease. The agency launched a new webpage to guide recovered COVID-19 patients to local blood or plasma collection centers to discuss their eligibility and potentially schedule an appointment to donate.

April 16, 2020 |  White House Guidelines for Opening up American Again: The White House unveiled guidelines that outline a three-phased approach to reopening America and includes specific steps for state, local, and tribal officials to follow in tailoring their response. 

April 15, 2020 | TSA Coronavirus (COVID-19) information Update: Travelers with a state driver’s license that expired beginning 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.

April 15, 2020 | DHS and USDA Announce Regulatory Changes to Ensure Continued Flow of America’s Food Supply: The Department of Homeland Security and Department of Agriculture announced significant changes to the H-2A program, which has resulted in closing of many international borders across the world in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The H-2A program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary agricultural jobs. Specifically, the changes announced will now allow employers to employ certain foreign workers who are currently in H-2A rather than having to apply from outside the United States. Additionally, current H-2A workers will be allowed to remain the three-year maximum allowable period of stay in the United States.

April 14, 2020 | Disaster Financial Management Guide: This guide identifies the capabilities and activities necessary to prepare and successfully implement disaster financial management while maintaining fiscal responsibility throughout response and recovery operations. The principles, concepts and resources contained in the guide can support jurisdictions in identifying the resources needed to support their community, increase the efficiency of recovery efforts, and reduce the likelihood of audits and financial penalties for the jurisdiction.

April 14, 2020 | ED releases $3 Billion in Emergency Education Block Grants for Governors:  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that governors can now apply for their allotment of the nearly $3 billion Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, as authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The funds can be used at the direction of the governor to provide support to K-12 schools, postsecondary institutions, and other education-related organizations, including child care providers and non-public schools. State allocations for the GEER Fund can be found here. Governors can apply for funds by completing a short application. The Department expects to obligate the funds within three business days of application. 

April 14, 2020 | US Department of Transportation Issues Guidance To Help Keep Transit Employees and Passengers Safe: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration issued a Safety Advisory with recommended actions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 among transit employees and passengers. Transit agencies should follow the current CDC recommendations for protecting their workforce, which include face coverings, social distancing, frequent hand washing, facility and vehicle cleaning, and other measures to the maximum extent practicable.  

April 13, 2020 | Coronavirus Relief Funds Made AvailableThe Department of Treasury launched a portal by which states and localities over 500,000 people can apply for funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) through the CARES Act, to help cover expenses resulting from the coronavirus outbreak. While the Treasury has yet to release official guidance on what expenses qualify, states and eligible localities can begin the certification process. Once registered, they can receive half the funds due and once officially certified, the remainder of funds will be distributed no later than April 24. More information on the distribution methodology and eligible units of government can be found here.

April 13, 2020 | DOL Publishes New Guidance on Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program: The U.S. Department of Labor has released guidance on the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (PEUC), which can provide states with 13 weeks of federally funded benefits to qualified individuals. It also provides states with the flexibility of meeting of defining “seeking work” standards for individuals. The cost of such program is 100% federally funded, meaning states cannot charge employers for any PEUC benefits paid. Additionally, the implementation and administrative costs of such a program will be federally backed.

April 13, 2020 | USDA Unveils Program Resource Guide for Rural Communities: The United States Department of Agriculture released an all-encompassing list of federal programs that provide technical assistance, grants, and loans for rural communities, or other organizations and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 2020 FAQ’s on Shortages of Surgical Masks and Gowns: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a FAQs on shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).

April 10, 2020 | Election Administration: The Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and Sector Coordinating Council’s Joint COVID Working Group chaired by the Election Assistance Commission Chair Ben Hovland put out six FAQs and consideration documents. These documents provide guidance for state, local, tribal, and territorial election officials on how to administer and secure election infrastructure in light of the COVID-19 epidemic. The documents are as follows: outbound processes, ballot applications, inbound processes, signature verification and cureelectronic ballot delivery and ballot drop boxes

April 9, 2020 | FEMA and HHS to Offer Transition of Federal Community-Based Testing Sites to State Management: Beginning April 10, HHS and FEMA will work with states with federal Community-Based Testing Sites (CBTS) to clarify whether sites want to continue as they are now, or transition to full state control. Under state control, CBTS sites would still receive technical assistance from the federal government and be able to request supplies through the normal FEMA systems. Leadership at both HHS and FEMA will consider approving extension requests by states that need additional federal assistance to manage and operate sites. A formal notice to continue must be submitted to the CBTS task force leader, by either the state’s governor or his or her representative, no later than April 9. After transition, states can choose to source testing kits and supplies through their standard ordering process or to request assistance from FEMA using the standard Resource Request Process through the appropriate FEMA Region. 

April 9, 2020 | Secretary DeVos Announces Rapid Distribution of $6 Billion in Emergency Cash Grants for College Students: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that more than $6 billion will be distributed as soon as April 15 to colleges and universities to provide direct emergency cash grants to college students whose education has been disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak. The CARES Act provides nearly $14 billion to support postsecondary education students and institutions, of which $6.28 billion will be provided to students for expenses related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Expenses include course materials and technology, food, housing, health care, and childcare. Colleges and universities determine which students will receive the cash grants. Institutions can apply for funding and view allocation amounts here

April 9, 2020 | USDA Increases Repayment Time for Loan Repayment: The USDA announced that farmers and other agricultural producers now have more time to repay Marketing Assistance Loans as part of the flexibility provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020. The loans now mature at 12 months rather than nine, and this flexibility is available for most commodities. 

April 9, 2020 | FDA Guidance for Health Care Providers and Investigators Regarding Investigational COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma: The FDA has issued guidance that provides recommendations to health care providers and investigators looking to the administration for information on convalescent plasma for patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19. This type of plasma is collected from those who have received from COVID-19. The guidance provides recommendations and pathways available to health care providers on the opportunities for them to use investigational COVID-19 plasma. 

April 8, 2020 | CMS Issues New Wave of Infection Control Guidance to Protect Patients and Healthcare Workers from COVID-19: CMS issued a series of updated guidance documents focused on infection control to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 in a variety of inpatient and outpatient care settings. The guidance, based on the CDC guidelines, will help ensure infection control in the context of patient triage, screening and treatment, the use of alternate testing and treatment sites and telehealth, drive-through screenings, limiting visitations, cleaning and disinfection guidelines, staffing, and more.

April 8, 2020 | COVID-19 Awards by State: The HHS has developed a feature that will allow public viewing of all COVID-19 HHS grant and cooperative agreement awards. The site provides data on awards by all HHS agencies funded under all of the federal emergency appropriations bills that have passed in the past few weeks.

April 8, 2020 | FDA FAQs for EUA: The FDA has released an FAQ on the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Chloroquine Phosphate and Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate for certain COVID-19 patients.

April 8, 2020 | Federal Transit Administration Issues New COVID-19 Guidance: FTA issued an updated version of their Frequently Asked Questions regarding how recipients of federal aid can respond to the coronavirus. The guidance includes discussions of eligible uses of emergency federal funds, waivers from exisiting regulations and more. 

April 8, 2020 | HHS Announced More Funding for Community Health Center (CHC): HHS has announced more than $1.3 billion in awards for community health centers (CHC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding was appropriated through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will disperse funding to 1,387 community health centers. Funding will help support CHC’s ability to detect, prevent, diagnose and treat COVID-19 and help maintain or increase health center capacity and staff. The Health Resources and Services Administration is also providing this funding and other FY 2020 CARES Supplemental Funding Awards.

April 7, 2020 | CMS Approves more than $51 billion to healthcare providers on the frontlines: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) delivered more than $51 billion to the healthcare providers on the frontlines battling the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to ensure they have the resources they need to combat this pandemic. This is an increase from the $34 billion that CMS announced in an earlier press release. Processing times for a request of an accelerated or advance payment is now four to six days, down from the previous timeframe of three to four weeks. In a little over a week, CMS has already approved over 21,000 of the 32,000 requests it received from health care providers and suppliers seeking accelerated and advance payments. Prior to COVID-19, CMS had approved just over 100 total requests in the past five years, with most being tied to natural disasters such as hurricanes.

April 6, 2020 Congressional Research Services (CRS) Report on Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) Increase Available for Title IV-E Foster Care and Permanency Payment: CRS released a report detailing the new increase federal funding to states through a 6.2 percentage point increase to the FMAP that is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2020 and will be available through the last day of the calendar year quarter in which the public health emergency period ends.

April 6, 2020 | CFPB Issues Guidance on Credit Reporting and Mortgage Forbearance: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a policy statement outlining the responsibility of credit reporting companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

April 6, 2020 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Awards $186 Million in Funding to Assist States: HHS announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be awarding $186 million in funds to assist states in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. A break down of awards by state is available. This funding is in addition to the first round of funding disbursed under Congress’ first passed emergency COVID-19 surplus package. 

April 6, 2020 | Additional Paycheck Protection Program Guidance for Small Business Loans Released: The Small Business Administration in coordination with the Department of Treasury released additional guidance regarding the Paycheck Protection Program to assist in 100% guaranteed loans to small businesses. The guidance further clarifies the program’s operations as well as the Interim Rule that Treasury had previously released. 

April 6, 2020 | Department of Education Announces Streamlined Waiver Process for State and District Funding Flexibilities: States' education agencies can now apply for waivers for additional flexibilities on state and district funding using a streamlined waiver form. Among the new flexibilities, states can allow districts to carryover more than 15% of their federal FY 2019 Title I funds to the next fiscal year and use more than 15% of Title IV-A funds to purchase technology infrastructure. These additional flexibilities were authorized by the CARES Act and complement previously announced waivers on federal state assessment and accountability provisions.

April 5, 2020 | FDA Issues New Guidance on Infusion Pumps and Accessories during COVID-19 Emergency: The FDA issued guidance on infusion pumps and accessories that immediately went into effect. The guidance aims to help ensure the availability of infusion pumps and accessories for patients who require continuous infusion of medications, nutrition, and other fluids and help foster technologies, such as remote capabilities, that maintain a safer physical distance between the health care provider and the patient.

April 3, 2020 | SBA Releases Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program: The CARES  Act’s Paycheck Protection Program authorizes up to $349 billion for small businesses, to be applied towards job retention and certain other expenses. Small businesses and eligible non-profit organizations, veterans organizations, and tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards. A top-line overview of the program is available. A information sheet is available for lenders and borrowers. An application for borrowers is also available.

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 3, 2020 | CMS Released a FAQs Video About Telehealth Services Benefits: The CMS has released a video to answer common questions about the Medicare telehealth services benefit. CMS has expanded this benefit on a temporary and emergency basis under the agency’s 1135 waiver authority and as part of federal legislation. 

April 2, 2020 | Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Coordinates National Effort to Develop Blood-Related Therapies for COVID-19: The FDA announced that they are taking the lead on a national effort to facilitate the development of, and access to, two medical treatments for COVID-19 derived from human blood that is rich in antibodies from donated blood of people who have recovered from the virus.

April 2, 2020 | CMS FAQs to Assist Medicaid and CHIP Agencies: CMS has posted Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help assist state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) agencies in their response to COVID-19. 

April 2, 2020 | CMS Rural Health Care and Medicaid Telehealth Flexibilities and Medicaid Substance Use Disorder Treatment via Telehealth: CMS released an informational bulletin to states that identify opportunities for telehealth delivery to help increase access to Medicaid services and federal reimbursement for services and treatment for substance use disorders (SUD) including in school-based health centers. The bulletin covers: Rural Health Care and Medicaid Telehealth Flexibilities and Medicaid Substance Use Disorder Treatment via Telehealth. 

April 2, 2020 | FDA Updates Blood Donor Eligibility: The Food and Drug Administration has updated its current policies regarding certain donor eligibility criteria for blood donation. The new guidance is based on recently completed studies and epidemiologic data, and the agency is revising several guidances regarding blood donor eligibility that will be in effect immediately. The alternatives to new donor eligibility will only last during the declared pandemic. 

April 2, 2020 | HUD Releases $3 Billion to Address Homelessness: Provides $1 billion through HUND’s Emergency Solutions Grants program to build more emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families; operate emergency shelters by providing maintenance, rent, repair, security, fuel, equipment, insurance, utilities, food, furnishings, and supplies necessary for the operation; and more.

April 2, 2020 | HUD Releases $3 Billion of COIVD-19 Funding for CDBG: HUD releases $3 billion of COIVD-19 funding, which provides $2 billion to through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to help states, communities and non-profits construct medical facilities for testing and treatment, acquire a motel or hotel building to expand capacity of hospitals to accommodate isolation of patients during recovery, replace HVAC systems to temporarily transform commercial buildings or closed school buildings into clinics or treatment centers, and more.

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 | The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Releases Letter to State and Tribal Child Welfare Leaders on New Flexibilities for Kinship Navigator Programs and Family First Transitional Grants:
ACF sent a letter to state child welfare leaders stating that deadlines for application deadline for Kinship Navigator funds have been extended to May 1, 2020, and that due to current events, grantees do not need to submit an additional application to receive funds from the Family First Transition Grants that were appropriated through the Families First Transition Act. 

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 | The Administration of Children and Families (ACF) Releases New Program Instructions on Reporting Requirements for Title IV-E: ACF released new guidance to states on new reporting requirements for Title IV-E foster care, adoption assistance, guardianship assistance, kinship navigator and prevention services programs. They also provide guidance on new reporting requirements for FFTA Funding Certainty Grants.

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 consumers 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 | Department of Justice and FTC Announce Expedited Antitrust Procedure: The DOJ Antitrust Division and the FTC released a joint statement detailing enhanced antitrust action during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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 participation 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 23, 2020 | Trump Signs Executive Order to Reduce Hoarding of Necessary Supplies: President Donald Trump signed an 7 under the Defense Production Act that addresses hoarding items in unnecessary quantities that threaten the supply of health and medical resources.

March 22, 2020 | DOJ Files First Enforcement Action Against COVID-19 Fraud: The DOJ took its first COVID-19 related action against operators of a fraudulent website that the department says took part in a wire fraud scheme to profit from the fear surrounding the virus outbreak. 

March 22, 2020 | FEMA Releases Information Regarding National Guard Title 32 Status: President Donald Trump directed the secretary of defense to permit states to receive 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 announcement 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 patient's 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 sub-recipients 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 their 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 canceled 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 frequently 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 the 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.