September 9, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

POMA continues to monitor the changing information surrounding the spread of COVID-19.

In an effort to provide accurate and helpful information to POMA members, we have gathered some of the resources we are finding to be most useful and accurate at this time. We hope this helps you in staying on top of the latest developments in the spread of the disease and in helping your patients.

Stay safe and healthy!


New Headlines

Trump Administration Takes Action to Expand Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

Today, under the leadership of President Trump, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Assistant Secretary for Health, issued guidance under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to expand access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are made available. This guidance authorizes state-licensed pharmacists to order and administer, and state-licensed or registered pharmacy interns acting under the supervision of the qualified pharmacist to administer, COVID-19 vaccinations to persons ages 3 or older, subject to certain requirements.

The authorization preempts any state and local laws that prohibit or effectively prohibits those who satisfy these requirements from ordering or administering COVID-19 vaccines as set forth above. The authorization does not preempt state and local laws that permit additional individuals to administer COVID-19 vaccines to additional persons.

Access a copy of the guidance - PDF

IRF QRP COVID-19 PR Tip Sheet is Available

The IRF COVID-19 PR Tip Sheet is now available. The purpose of this Tip Sheet is to help providers understand CMS’ public reporting strategy for the PAC QRP in the midst of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE).  This Tip Sheet explains the CMS strategy to account for CMS quality data which were exempted from public reporting due to COVID-19, and the impact on CMS’ Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF) Compare website refreshes.  Please navigate to the IRF QRP Training webpage to download this document.

Pennsylvania Update on COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard

On Monday, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine released the weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard. Updates are released each Monday.

As of Thursday, September 3, the state saw a seven-day case increase of 5,453; the previous seven-day increase was 4,188, indicating a 1,265-case increase across the state over the past week. The Department of Health is also providing weekly data on the number of statewide cases of COVID-19 among 5-18-year-olds. Throughout the pandemic, there have been 7,788 total cases of COVID-19 among 5-18-year-olds. Of that total, 486 occurred between August 28-September 3.

Cases by demographic can be found here.

Governor Wolf Announces Restaurants May Increase Indoor Occupancy to 50 Percent Starting September 21

Governor Tom Wolf announced yesterday that restaurants may increase indoor occupancy to 50 percent starting September 21. To ensure that these businesses operate safely as Pennsylvania continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and to instill customers and employees with confidence knowing that they can dine safely, restaurants will commit to strictly complying to all public health safety guidelines and orders through a self-certification process.

Restaurants that self-certify will appear in the Open & Certified Pennsylvania searchable online database of certified restaurants across the commonwealth. Consumers will be able to access this database and find certified businesses in their area, ensuring that consumers can make more informed choices about the food establishments they are looking to patronize.

Department of Health Updates COVID-19 Screening, Testing and Visitation Guidance in Skilled Nursing Facilities

On September 3, 2020, Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today released updated skilled nursing facility guidance that includes recommendations on COVID-19 routine (or, “screening”) testing strategies for facilities not experiencing an outbreak, Compassionate Caregivers, access to facilities for resident advocates and a revised reopening timeline after a mitigated outbreak.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the community surrounding a skilled nursing facility has a direct impact on the risk of COVID-19 introduction into a facility. Immediate testing of residents and staff experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is strongly recommended. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the department recommend facilities that are not experiencing an outbreak continue testing asymptomatic staff and some residents.

Facilities experiencing an outbreak should immediately begin universal testing, ideally of all staff and residents. View all the updated guidance here.

WHO Updates Clinical Care Guidance with Corticosteroid Recommendations

On September 2, 2020, WHO published guidance for clinicians and health care decision-makers on the use of corticosteroids in patients with COVID-19.

We recommend systemic corticosteroids for the treatment of patients with severe and critical COVID-19. We suggest not to use corticosteroids in the treatment of patients with non-severe COVID-19 as the treatment brought no benefits, and could even prove harmful. Treatment should be under supervision of a clinician.

Corticosteroids are listed in the WHO model list of essential medicines, readily available globally at a low cost.  WHO encourages countries to maintain sufficient stocks of corticosteroids to treat COVID-19 and the other disease for which they are effective, while not maintaining excessive stocks which could deny other countries access. 


Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

Department of Health, Community Groups Roll Out COVID-19 Mobile Response Unit to Provide Testing and Education to Underserved Communities

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, a unique partnership with Latino Connection, Highmark Blue Shield and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation to create the first-in-the-nation COVID-19 Mobile Response Unit to provide testing and education targeting minority and underserved communities throughout Pennsylvania.

Known as CATE, Community-Accessible Testing & Education, the unit is equipped to conduct COVID-19 testing on-site through a mobile RV vehicle while also educating the public on how to stay healthy and safe.

Those interested in visiting CATE can find the tour stop schedule listed on their website or on their Facebook page. In A New Window. Services are available on a first come, first serve basis. Social distancing and masking guidelines and will be followed at all times. While each tour stop provider’s policies are different, most providers, if not short on testing supplies, will test anyone who believes they’ve been exposed to COVID. Other providers may only test those who are experiencing symptoms. Questions about specific CATE stops can be directed to [email protected].

Wolf Administration Highlights the Importance of Vaccinations and Introduces Updated Guidelines for New School Year

The Pennsylvania departments of Education, Health, Human Services, and Insurance are reminding parents to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date as part of back-to-school preparations. Vaccine requirements also extend to students of cyber and charter schools.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s recommended that parents and guardians schedule immunization appointments early, due to potential delays in scheduling and decreased appointment windows. To address this potential issue, the Department of Health has temporarily suspended the regulation regarding requirements for children’s immunization for a two-month period after the beginning of the school year or the beginning of enrollment in an early childhood education program.

The temporary regulatory suspension of children’s immunizations requirements allows children to enter and attend school or an early childhood program for two months without the required immunizations. The department is temporarily suspending the list of immunizations a child must have and the grades in which the child must have them, the requirement that children who do not meet the regulations should be excluded, the guidelines that schools need to follow to verify that children with medical exemptions who are on a plan to get their immunizations actually get them, and the regulation that requires children currently enrolled in child care programs maintain updated immunizations according to the federal guidelines.

Additional information on immunizations can be found on the Department of Health’s website at

Pennsylvania Suspends Licensing Requirements

Due to COVID-19, Governor Wolf has granted a number of temporary waivers for health care professionals to increase the available number of practitioners in the Commonwealth and reduce barriers to temporary licensure. Following are a list of waivers relevant for osteopathic physicians:

Click here for a complete list of suspended licensing regulations. For all licensing-related inquiries, please use the email addresses found here to contact the appropriate licensing board.

Updated Pennsylvania Coronavirus Links: Press Releases, State Lab Cases, Graphics, Resources

Daily Briefings and Updates from Pa. Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine

Resources from the CDC

The CDC has provided guidance and resources for healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, laboratories, as well as information for schools and childcare, businesses and employers, community and faith-based organizations, and the general public. Visit the CDC COVID-19 webpage for more information.

POMA will continue monitoring COVID-19 and provide updates and recommendations from PA-DOH, the CDC, the WHO and local health agencies. POMA's COVID-19 webpage and social media channels will be updated as information is shared from these organizations.

If you have any comments or questions for POMA, please email us at [email protected]

Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association | 1330 Eisenhower Boulevard, Harrisburg, PA 17111
(717) 939-9318 |