COVID-19

What you need to know.

Resources:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

  1. Stay up to date by following the latest CDC Alerts
  2. Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions
  3. ADPH Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Information 
  4. Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources for Community Health Centers
  5. Where to get tested for coronavirus in Alabama
  6. COVID-19 Healthcare Planning Checklist
  7. Disaster Planning Handbook for Behavioral Health Treatment Programs

Wednesday, April 8, 2020 Update

Today, HHS, through HRSA, awarded more than $1.3 billion to 1,387 health centers as part of a historic U.S. response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. HRSA-funded health centers may use the awards to help communities across the country detect coronavirus; prevent, diagnose, and treat COVID-19; and maintain or increase health capacity and staffing levels to address this public health emergency.

The funding supports health centers’ ability to detect, prevent, diagnose, and treat COVID-19. The awards will also help maintain or increase health center capacity and staff.

Alabama CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Supplemental Funding Awards: 17 health centers total $20,361,685. Click here to access AL Grantees.

Monday, April 6, 2020 Update

As a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program is a loan option for nonprofits that provide eight weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to employers with fewer than 500 employees to maintain their payroll during this emergency. The program offers forgivable loans to cover payroll and other eligible costs, up to $10 million, and is retroactive to February 15, 2020, to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls.

Funds are limited so act now.

Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis beginning TODAY Friday, April 3rd. Applications must be submitted to an eligible 7a lender. Contact your local lender to determine application submittal process.    

Access a Stimulus Loan Calculator for use as a template for gathering the necessary application information.

We have updated our collection of COVID-19 funding sources and financing-related resources on our website and will continue to do so as we obtain new information.

If you have questions or require assistance in utilizing this information, please contact Jonathan Chapman, Capital Link Chief Project Officer, at jchapman@caplink.org.

LEARN MORE     FIND A LENDER     DOWNLOAD APPLICATION

Thursday, April 2, 2020 Update

CMS has been hosting regular calls with a variety of clinicians, hospitals, other facilities, and states in an effort to keep stakeholders updated on our COVID-19 efforts. As we know not everyone is available to attend the calls live, we are happy to share that you can access recordings of the calls along with transcripts on the following link. We will continue to host calls and share information through our list serves and media.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020 Update

HRSA recently awarded $100 million through the FY 2020 Coronavirus Supplemental Funding for Health Centers (COVID-19). Funding supports prevention, preparation for, and responding to coronavirus disease. Visit the COVID-19 Supplemental Funding for Health Centers technical assistance (TA) webpage for resources.

The COVID-19 award is a separate grant (H8C) from the H80 operational award. This tutorial describes how award recipients can add the H8C grant folder to their HRSA Electronic Handbooks (EHBs) portfolio.

HRSA will host two question and answer sessions to help award recipients develop their responses to the COVID-19 Response Reporting Requirement due in EHBs on Thursday, April 23.

  1. COVID-19 Supplemental Funding for Health Centers Q&A Session #1
    Wednesday, April 8
    2:00-3:00 p.m. ET
    Join the webcast the day of the session
    Call-in: 888-790-3515
    Passcode: 5509950
  2. COVID-19 Supplemental Funding for Health Centers Q&A Session #2
    Friday, April 17
    2:00-3:00 p.m. ET
    Join the webcast the day of the session
    Call-in: 888-469-2076
    Passcode: 6250835

Thursday, March 26, 2020 Update

Consistent with our mission to link health centers to capital resources, Capital Link is working hard to bring you information on resources to help you address the financial challenges posed by COVID-19. See the latest information below, and check our website often for updates. Emergency Funding Sources and Resources

We’ve added a COVID-19 Resources page to our website with a collection of organizations and lenders that are providing funding for health centers in immediate need of financial assistance. We will continue to update this list as we learn of new funding opportunities. We will also be updating this page with financing-related resources and tools. Click here to access our COVID-19 Resources webpage >

Trainings & Programs

All of our upcoming webinars and learning collaborative sessions that are scheduled over the next few weeks will include information that is tailored to the current circumstances health centers are currently experiencing in this pandemic, in-line with resources and guidance from NACHC and HRSA.

Advisory Services

Capital Link is continuing to work with health centers and PCAs through this unprecedented time to support various planning activities. If you have questions, please contact Jonathan Chapman, Capital Link Chief Project Officer, at jchapman@caplink.org.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 Update

Personal Protective Equipment – Conserving Facemasks and Respirators During a Critical Shortage

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 Update

1) As a leader in primary care innovation, Weitzman Institute is taking measures to support safety net practices and their patients in managing the outbreak of COVID-19. During this crisis, we are offering a variety of resources focused on critical topics that feature clinical and health center preparedness cases.

Join us Wednesday, March 25 at Noon Eastern Time for the next COVID-19 Weitzman ECHO session focused on Telehealth.

This is part of a special COVID-19 Weitzman ECHO series featuring clinical care providers and operations leaders from FQHCs across the country sharing Coronavirus preparedness updates and best practices in this ever-changing environment.

Register Now

2) In keeping with its commitment to ensure states have the necessary tools to respond to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved an additional 11 state Medicaid waiver requests under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act (Act), bringing the total number of approved Section 1135 waivers for states to 13. The waivers were approved within days of states’ submitting them, and offer states new flexibilities to focus their resources on combatting the outbreak and providing the best possible care to Medicaid beneficiaries in their states. These waivers support President Trump’s commitment to operating a COVID-19 response that is locally executed, state managed and federally supported.

A copy of the press release can be found here.

Monday, March 23, 2020 Update

1) Today, CMS announced it is 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 action comes as part of the Trump Administration’s response to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

CMS is implementing additional extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy exceptions and extensions for upcoming measure reporting and data submission deadlines for several CMS programs.  For those programs with data submission deadlines in April and May 2020, submission of those data will be optional, based on the facility’s choice to report.

CMS recognizes that quality measure data collection and reporting for services furnished during this time period may not be reflective of their true level of performance on measures such as cost, readmissions and patient experience during this time of emergency and seeks to hold organizations harmless for not submitting data during this period.

You can find a copy of the press release here.

2) CMS released Frequently Asked Questions on Medicare Provider Enrollment Relief related to COVID-19 including the toll-free hotlines available to provide expedited enrollment and answer questions related to COVID-19 enrollment requirements.

A copy of the FAQs can be found here.

Friday, March 20, 2020 Update

3 key medical supply shortages in Alabama: “We have a tidal wave coming.”

Thursday, March 19, 2020 Update

1) Check and Record Everyday Version 3

2) Yesterday at the White House Task Force Press Briefing, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that all elective surgeries, non-essential medical, surgical, and dental procedures be delayed during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

You can find a copy of the press release here.

You can find a copy of the guidance here.

These recommendations, and earlier CMS guidance and actions in response to the COVID-19 virus, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19 click here for further information. For a complete and updated list of CMS actions, and other information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 Update

1) This important video message from NACHC leadership provides essential information regarding NACHC’s response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and a clear outline of our critical legislative priorities. While the COVID-19 issue is at the front of your minds and ours, we also want to assure our membership that we continue to work tirelessly on fixing the cliff and securing other much needed funding to stabilize Community Health Centers, during this immediate crisis—and beyond.

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWK3rYQ97eo

Join NACHC for an important webinar, Health Centers, Flattening the COVID-19 Curve: National Partner Update, on Thursday, March 19, 2020, from 1-2 PM ET. This is part of the NACHC COVID-19 webinar series for health centers. Participants will hear the latest on the science, status and policy response from our federal agency colleagues. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions during the webinar. A transcription and recording will be available following the webinar. Stay up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 information, visit the NACHC website.

Session link to join from your computer.

2) As a leader in primary care innovation, Weitzman Institute is taking measures to support safety net practices and their patients in managing the outbreak of COVID-19. During this crisis, we are offering a variety of resources focused on critical topics that feature clinical and health center preparedness cases.

For the next four Wednesdays, we are offering a special ECHO series on the coronavirus beginning today, Wednesday, March 18, at Noon-1pm Eastern for primary care professionals and clinical operations staff nationally.

Across the four sessions, we will discuss the latest COVID-19 clinical and preparedness updates, including workflow, HR policies, inventory control, and communication strategies in an ever-changing environment. Clinical care providers and clinical operations leaders from FQHCs across the country will be sharing their best practices.

Register Now

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 Update

1) Today, The Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare—administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country.

To read the Fact Sheet on this announcement click here.

To read the Frequently Asked Questions on this announcement click here.

This guidance, and earlier CMS actions in response to the COVID-19 virus, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19 click here Coronavirus.gov. For information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.

2) URGENT UPDATE: Changes to Testing Approval, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Requirements, and Collection of Specimens

As of March 13, 2020, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) has automated testing approval. The use of this process will allow for approval in minutes.  Physicians are asked to discontinue use of PUIFax immediately.  Please click here and complete the online automated consultation form.

Changes to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allow most physicians and other health care providers to be able to collect specimens for their own patients.  Use of N95 mask is no longer required for the collection.  In order to conserve PPE supply, if a patient presents to your office with respiratory symptoms, immediately place a mask on them and place them in a room.  Staff can stand in the door to ask necessary questions to screen the patient.  If COVID-19 is suspected and testing is planned, please don PPE before entering the room.  See PPE guidance here.

Specimen Collection requirements have also changed and been updated by the CDC.  Oropharyngeal (OP) swabs, serum, and respiratory specimens are no longer required.  The swab and viral media used are now the same as that used for collecting specimens for flu testing. Instructions for the collection of specimens can be found here.

Directions for packaging and shipping of specimens can be found here.

A BCL requisition form must be completed for every specimen even if more than one specimen is obtained from the same patient.  The requisition form can be assessed here.

The ADPH in collaboration with the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners (ALBME) would like to remind physicians of their responsibility to care for their patients.  A notice was sent out on Saturday by ALBME to all licensed physicians.  Part of this notice follows:

Physician responsibility notice from ALBME

In this time of need, the Board calls on physicians to remember their calling and duty to provide competent and compassionate care to ALL of their patients. All physicians have a duty and ethical obligation to treat an established patient.  Failure to do so could constitute patient abandonment and unprofessional conduct under Ala. Code Sec. 34-24-360(2) and Ala. Admin. Code Rule 540-X-9-.07(1) and result in disciplinary action from the Board.

The full message can be found here.

3) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients and providers in the wake of the 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. CMS has released a Virtual Toolkit to help you stay up-to-date on CMS materials available on COVID-19.

Monday, march 16, 2020 Update

1) CMS Takes Action Nationwide to Aggressively Respond to Coronavirus National Emergency. Click here for more information. 

2) The Alabama Department of Public Health released a Guidance for COVID-19 Speciment Collection and Shipping.

Friday, March 13, 2020 Update

1) A malicious website pretending to be the live map for Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins University is circulating on the internet waiting for unwitting internet users to visit the website. Visiting the website infects the user with the AZORult trojan, an information stealing program which can exfiltrate a variety of sensitive data. It is likely being spread via infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, and social engineering. Furthermore, anyone searching the internet for a Coronavirus map could unwittingly navigate to this malicious website. analyzed by and received an extremely malicious threat score of 100/100 with Anti-virus (AV) detection at 76%. This sample was labelled by Hybrid-Analysis as a Trojan. End users should be warned about this cybersecurity risk and security teams should blacklist any indicators associated with this specific threat. IOCs and Analysis may be found here.

2) The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is posting a fact sheet to the CMS.gov website to aid Medicare providers with information relating to the pricing of both the CDC and non CDC tests

3) Audio Interview: Making Decisions about Covid-19 Testing and Treatment for Your Patients

Thursday, March 12, 2020, Update

During this COCA Call, presenters will focus on current information about COVID-19 and provide clinicians with updated information on implementing infection prevention and control measures, assessing risks for exposures, and optimizing the use of personal protective equipment supplies. Special Request: Due to the high demand we anticipate for this COCA Call, we kindly ask participants to access it in a group format, if possible, to allow for the maximum number of people to participate. Watch on Facebook: You may also participate in this COCA Call by joining COCA’s Facebook Live. Advanced registration is not required. Continuing Education will not be offered for this COCA Call. There will only be a few slides for this COCA Call. Slides will not advance during the presentation portion of this webinar. You can find the slides under the “Call Materials” tab on the call page.

Date: Friday, March 13, 2020
Time: 2:00pm–3:00pm (ET)

Please click the link below to join:

https://zoom.us/j/423965234

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 Update

CDC Updated Guidelines on the Use of Facemasks and Respirators
On Tuesday, March 10, the CDC released updated guidance on the use of facemasks by health care workers in situations involving COVID-19. The guidance states that facemasks are an acceptable temporary alternative for most medical services until the demand for N95 respirators lessens. Respirators should be prioritized for procedures that are likely to generate respiratory aerosols, which pose the highest risk of exposure to health care providers. Eye protection, medical gowns, and gloves continue to be recommended         

Tuesday, March 10, 2020, Update

1) Due to travel concerns, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) has canceled their 2020 National Policies & Issues Forum.

2) The U.S. House and Senate approved a bipartisan $8.3 billion package that includes $100 million in funding for Community Health Centers to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. To learn more, click here.