Coronavirus Daily Update: Home Care Providers Target PPP Funding; White House Reacts to Internal Outbreak

During this critical time, Home Health Care News remains committed to bringing you all the essential news related to home-based care operations. At the same time, we also recognize the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to our regular content, we’ll continue to highlight industry-related developments and mitigation strategies in this rolling bulletin.

What you need to know from Friday-Sunday (May 8-10)

— Help At Home, a Chicago-based home- and community-based care services company, launched a fund for workers affected by COVID-19. The company contributed $1 million to the fund right off the bat.

— Key economic advisers within the Trump administration are bracing for the unemployment rate to climb above 20% in coming months, according to The New York Times. The rising unemployment will likely cause some individuals to seek work within the in-home care space, which has historically dealt with a surplus of consumer demand but a shortage of labor.

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— Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf granted civil immunity to health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight this week. The executive order does not, however, cover “willful misconduct” or “gross negligence.” It also does not extend to the owners of health care operations.

— Nearly half of home care organizations are unable to obtain sufficient PPE for their workers, a new Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) survey found. Other highlights from the survey: about 90% of respondents applied or are applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), with 71% offering or planning to offer paid sick leave. On average, fewer than 10 workers per surveyed home care organization have requested sick leave.

— LHC Group Inc. (Nasdaq: LHCG) leadership explained how the company is bouncing back from coronavirus disruption. In the week ended March 28 alone, the provider saw 8,585 missed visits.

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— The Trump administration is reportedly working to contain an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus inside the White House.

What you need to know from Thursday (May 7)

— Unemployment filings reached 3.17 million last week, bringing the total to 33.5 million over the past seven weeks, the Department of Labor (DOL) reported Thursday.

— The ongoing coronavirus outbreak should cause state regulators to rethink nonmedical home care licensure requirements. That’s according to Judith B. Clinco, the founder and president of Catalina In-Home Services Inc. She discussed the topic in an op-ed published by the Arizona Daily Star. “Nonmedical home-care is a vital segment of the caring professions, but it’s unique in its lack of state oversight,” Clinco, who is also founder of the CareGiver Training Institute, wrote.

— LetsGetChecked, an in-home health testing startup, raised $71 million, according to Axios. The fundraising round was co-led by Illumina Ventures and HLM Venture Partners.

— During a virtual press conference with several senior care providers, LeadingAge demanded more action from policymakers to help keep older adults and the workers who care for them safe. “Aging services providers … have not been able to get the PPE or testing they need to protect older Americans or their employees,” Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, said.

— Amedisys has received roughly $100 million under the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, the company reported during a first-quarter earnings call Thursday. It is taking a cautious approach to using that emergency money until federal policymakers provide further clarity, however.

What you need to know from Wednesday (May 6)

— Brookdale’s home health care segment has faced major disruption due to the fact COVID-19 hit during the transition to the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM). CEO Cindy Baier provided a home health update during a Q1 earnings call Wednesday.

— Less than a day after the Trump Administration announced plans to phase out the coronavirus task force, which was created to monitor, contain and mitigate the coronavirus, the president walked back his comments. Instead of disbanding, the task force will shift its focus to developing vaccines and reopening the economy, President Trump said Wednesday.

— The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. has topped 71,000, though the daily number of deaths and new infections are falling. In New York alone, nearly 5,000 of those deaths have been connected to nursing homes or adult day care facilities.

— The latest numbers come as Vice President Mike Pence — who leads the coronavirus task force — says the country has made “the tremendous progress.” Still, the battle against the coronavirus is far from over, and the U.S. still has months of fighting left. In fact, new estimates suggest that COVID-19 deaths could double by early August, with infection rates expected to rise again as businesses reopen.

— In New York, more than a dozen children have been hospitalized with a mysterious illness that experts believe could be linked to the coronavirus. Symptoms are similar to those experienced with Kawasaki disease, a rare illness in children that involves inflammation of the blood vessels. Children in Europe have reported similar symptoms. The development may be something for pediatric home health providers to keep an eye on moving forward.

What you need to know from Tuesday (May 5)

— A new report out of Ohio suggests that many of the workers dubbed “essential” during the COVID-19 crisis live near the poverty line. That includes home health aides in the state.

— President Trump suggested on Tuesday the White House’s coronavirus task force could be shut down and replaced with “something in a different form,” The New York Times reported. The news comes as the U.S. moves into what the president called “Phase 2” of the country’s response strategy.

— ConcertoHealth, a California-based provider of in-home care, is working with health departments in Washington state to expand community- and home-based COVID-19 testing for at-risk and vulnerable populations.

Respiratory therapists have played an outsized role in the fight against COVID-19. Not only are they critically important for patient care, but they also deal hands-on with vital equipment for the patients, which greatly increases their risk of contracting the virus.

— Home health and hospice deal flow has been uprooted due to the COVID-19 virus, according to Irving Levin Associates. April 2020 saw 66% less deals than the same month a year ago.

— The American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NACL) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Tuesday to request $10 billion in emergency funding. The funding, the organizations said, would go to nursing homes and assisted living communities to assist them during the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, they asked for further support in regards to testing and additional PPE.

— A 29-year-old single mother in Florida is recovering after battling COVID-19. The woman credits her primary care doctor, who helped establish home health services through Baptist Health. “The home health care nurses were just amazing and they truly are heroes,” she told Action News Jax reporters

What you need to know from Monday (May 4)

— The Trump administration announced Friday that it would be replacing the HHS inspector general, who had highlighted issues with its COVID-19 response in an early April report. The administration nominated Jason Weida to take over the position. Weida previously worked in the Office of Legal Policy.

— It’s not just the home health industry that is looking for more federal support. Last week, the CEO of the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) told Hospice News that while NHPCO has appreciated the Trump administration’s efforts thus far, more help is needed as the hospice community continues to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

— Having amassed tens of thousands of deaths since March, nursing homes are pushing for states to grant them emergency protection against an influx of lawsuits claiming they provided insufficient care. According to AP News, at least 15 states have enacted some sort of protection against COVID-19-related lawsuits for nursing homes. Home health and home care providers may push for similar protections moving forward.

— Home-based care providers and their patients continue to be hit hard by the COVID-19 virus. But in-home care is still not given the attention it deserves, Politico reiterated.

— Though progress has been made, ensuring caregiver safety is still an issue nationwide. A Colorado home care worker, for example, claims she has not received coronavirus training and pays for her own PPE.

For daily updates from the week of April 27, click here.

For daily updates from the week of April 20, click here.

For daily updates from the week of April 13, click here.

For daily updates from the week of April 6, click here.

For daily updates from the week of March 30, click here.

For daily updates from the week of March 23, click here.

For daily updates from the week of March 16, click here.

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