February 24, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

POMA continues to monitor the rapidly 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

One-dose J&J COVID-19 Vaccine Meets Criteria as Safe and Effective

An FDA advisory committee is holding an all-day meeting Friday to review the data on a Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine candidate for COVID-19. They are likely to give the vaccine a thumbs up, likely leading to an FDA authorization for the vaccine within the next few days.

J&J has agreed to provide 100 million doses of its vaccine in the United States by June, including 20 million by the end of March. Those doses will add to the 300 million doses Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna each have promised to deliver to the U.S. government by the end of July.

Read the full article

Governor Wolf Signs Fourth Renewal of COVID-19 Disaster Declaration to Aid in Response and Recovery

Last week, Governor Tom Wolf signed a fourth renewal of his 90-day Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. The first proclamation was signed on March 6, following the announcement of the first two presumptive positive cases of the virus in Pennsylvania.

The disaster declaration has allowed for waivers and extensions to continue to provide for Pennsylvanians and businesses under the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic, including the ability to waive the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment compensation, work search requirements, and the registration with PA CareerLink for applicants, and to provide relief from charges for employers; and allowing the commonwealth to suspend numerous training requirements and certification and licensure renewals for health care professionals, child care workers, direct care workers, direct support professionals, among other professional groups who provide life-sustaining services to our children, seniors, and vulnerable residents. It allows the commonwealth to increase the number of vaccine providers and improve vaccine distribution.

A Proclamation of Disaster Emergency is effective for a 90-day period unless sooner rescinded or extended by official action of the Governor.

CMS Takes Further Steps to Ensure Medicare Beneficiaries Have Wide Access to COVID-19 Antibody Treatment

The FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, administered together, for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients with positive COVID-19 test results who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. Bamlanivimab and etesevimab, administered together, may only be administered in settings in which health care providers have immediate access to medications to treat a severe infusion reaction, such as anaphylaxis, and the ability to activate the Emergency Medical System (EMS), as necessary. Review the Fact Sheet for Health Care Providers EUA of Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab regarding the limitations of authorized use when administered together.

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), Medicare will cover and pay for these infusions the same way it covers and pays for COVID-19 vaccines (when furnished consistent with the EUA).

CMS identified specific code(s) for the monoclonal antibody product and specific administration code(s) for Medicare payment: Eli Lilly and Company’s Antibody Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab, (ZIP) EUA effective February 9, 2021:


  • Long descriptor: Injection, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, 2100 mg
  • Short descriptor: bamlanivimab and etesevima


  • Long Descriptor: intravenous infusion, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, includes infusion and post administration monitoring
  • Short Descriptor: bamlan and etesev infusion

Positive COVID-19 Test Rate Drops for 10th Week

Pennsylvania’s positive test rate for the coronavirus continues to drop with the positive test rate for COVID-19 fell to 6.5% for the week of Feb. 12-Feb. 18, down from 8% during the previous week. The positive test rate has now dropped for 10 consecutive weeks after reaching a high of 16.2% in December. The declining positive test rate is an encouraging sign, but health officials have said a positive test rate higher than 5% is a source of concern.

While the majority of Pennsylvania’s counties are still showing a substantial spread of the virus, the number of counties with high transmission is also dropping. For the first time in weeks, more than a third of the state’s counties are no longer seeing substantial spread of COVID-19.

Vaccine Update

Vaccination numbers for Pennsylvania do not include Philadelphia, which is its own jurisdiction, or federal facilities, which are working directly with the federal government.

This week, a total of 3,172,900 doses will have been allocated through February 27:

  • 225,890 first doses will have been allocated this week.
  • 180,610 second doses will have been allocated this week.

To date, of the 3,172,900 doses allocated through February 27, 2,034,123 doses have been administered through February 22:

  • First doses, 80 percent (1,474,479 administered of 1,836,065 allocated)
  • Second doses, 42 percent (559,644 administered of 1,336,835 allocated)

Wolf Administration Provides Vaccine Update For Long-Term Care Facilities, Expands Rite Aid Partnership To Residential Drug And Alcohol Treatment Facilities

The Wolf Administration recently provided an update on Pennsylvania’s progress administering COVID-19 vaccines to residents and staff of long-term and congregate care facilities eligible in Phase 1A. To date, more than 193,000 residents and staff of nursing facilities, personal care homes, and assisted living facilities have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose through the federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. Additionally, nearly 10,000 residents and staff of other long-term and congregate care facilities licensed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) have received their first vaccine dose through the partnership with Pennsylvania-based Rite Aid, and this partnership is being expanded to include residential drug and alcohol treatment providers licensed by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) who identified as needing a vaccine provider. 

POMA Members Can Receive PPE Discounts

POMA is excited to announce our new partnership with ActionPPE.org to help our members acquire proper PPE supplies.  Launched in South Carolina, ActionPPE has supplied over 2.6 million units of PPE to members of over 20 state medical organizations through a reputable and certified supplier.  By pooling resources, POMA members receive a 5% discount on PPE orders when they use the discount code POMA-SAVE5. Product details and certificates for masks, gowns, gloves, face shields, etc. are provided on the site with most items in-stock and shipping directly to your office.

 PA Health Alert Network (PA HAN) - Health Alerts, Advisories and Updates

 Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

POMA Advocates for COVID-19 Vaccine Access

In last month's issue of the POMA Newsletter, POMA President Gene Battistella, DO highlighted POMA's advocacy efforts relating to COVID-19 vaccine access. Below is an excerpt of his column:

"[Since the COVID vaccine rollout plan was published in late December,] POMA has been advocating for our members on the need for vaccines for all.  We are aware of the disparities of availability of the vaccine, especially for physicians and groups without ties to health care systems, universities, or other entities.  POMA led a group advocating to Governor Wolf and Health Secretary Levine on behalf of these, and all Pennsylvania physicians.  Government officials took note and have made accommodations for these physicians battling the pandemic on the front lines and now have provided a mechanism to obtain these much needed vaccines. Although this is an improvement, vaccine availability is still not available universally to those in need (physicians, patients, and others) and the government’s efforts are still not enough. The POMA is very aware of this fact and have heard from many of our members across the Commonwealth on this matter.  We continue to work diligently on behalf of all our members in this regard and each call has been answered and addressed as best possible.  My promise to you is that we are, and will, continue to address all matters of importance to our members, especially as we continue to address the matter of vaccine availability."

Pa. Offers New Tool and Hotline for COVID-19 Vaccine Information

The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Tuesday launched a new online tool and hotline called "Your Turn" to help people know when they’re eligible for COVID-19 vaccine and help them find a provider. Your Turn also includes a telephone hotline to connect people who lack internet access to the information. It can be reached at 1-877-724-3258, or 1-877-PA-HEALTH. People can use Your Turn to sign up to receive updates on vaccine availability, but the tool does not enable people to schedule a vaccination appointment.

Philadelphia Launches Online Form for Residents Interested in Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health has opened its vaccine interest form online, allowing city residents to alert health officials of their desire to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

The form, which can be found here, can only be used to indicate interest in getting vaccinated, and it is not a means of scheduling an appointment to get a vaccine. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health will contact those who fill out the form when they become eligible to receive a vaccine.

The health department said it will likely take weeks or months before city residents will be able to schedule appointments to receive a vaccine. Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Tuesday that the city continues to receive limited doses of both available COVID-19 vaccines, which limits the number of people to whom the city can distribute the vaccines.

COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Map

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has launched a provider map along with an eligibility survey on its website to help those eligible, including health care workers not affiliated with a hospital, find a location to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Users can search by location, type in an address or zip code and filter by facility type.

COVID-19 Vaccine Codes

On December 18, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Moderna COVID‑19 Vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 for individuals 18 years of age and older.

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), Medicare will cover and pay for the administration of the vaccine (when furnished consistent with the EUA). Review the updated payment and HCPCS Level I CPT code structure for specific COVID-19 vaccine information. Only bill for the vaccine administration codes when you submit claims to Medicare; don’t include the vaccine product codes when the vaccines are free.

DOH Encourages Contact Tracing Participation

Michael Huff, director of testing and contact tracing for Pennsylvania, is emphasizing the need to prioritize case investigations and for those who test positive to participate in contact tracing - two key public health activities that occur when a case of COVID-19 is identified.  With 34,000 positive cases reported in the past seven days, contact tracing has become even more critical to identifying those who may have been exposed to the virus.  The Department of Health is utilizing the CDC's case investigation prioritization recommendations, which were revised on November 23.

Pennsylvanians are also encouraged to download the free COVID Alert PA App.

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

Briefings and Updates from Pa. Governor Wolf and the Department of Health

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 | www.poma.org