COVID-19 Federal Responses: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

COVID-19 Federal Responses: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

President Trump stated the White House Coronavirus Task Force will continue its work. However, the Task Force will shift from focusing on the medical response to the coronavirus, to developing plans to reopen the economy and vaccine development. Yesterday, Vice President Mike Pence said the Task Force could soon wind down and shift its current responsibilities for coordinating the federal COVID-19 response to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA). President Trump also said the Task Force could undergo some personnel changes as it shifts its focus.

As businesses prepare to reopen, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is clarifying that employers can ask employees about their known medical conditions and can bar an employee who has COVID-19 and/or its symptoms from entering the business location. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is reminding providers about their HIPAA Privacy and Security obligations when allowing news or film crews into their facilities.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule updating the requirements for nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases.

CMS has updated multiple fact sheets that summarize changes made through regulatory actions in response to COVID-19, including a Physicians and Other Practitioners (PDF) fact sheet.

Two CMS officials published a blog post in Health Affairs summarizing how certain regulatory measures taken by CMS will help frontline providers.

Pfizer began human trials of its COVID-19 vaccine.

U.S. cybersecurity authorities are warning against hacking attacks on healthcare and medical research entities.

The federal government is stocking up on vaccine supplies in anticipation of the eventual approval of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Gilead Sciences is in discussions with other pharmaceutical manufacturers to license the manufacturing rights for its promising COVID-19 treatment, remdesivir, in order to increase production.

A new study shows that the COVID-19 virus we are experiencing in the U.S. is a mutated version of the virus that first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Apple and Google are previewing their COVID-19 contact tracing apps.

The Department of Justice is bringing its first Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud case.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) clarified that student workers do not count towards the employee count that determines if an entity qualifies for SBA assistance programs such as the Paycheck Protection Act. An entity must have fewer than 500 employees to qualify for SBA assistance. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has extended the deadline for healthcare providers to attest to receipt of payments from the Provider Relief Fund and accept the Terms and Conditions. Providers will now have 45 days, increased from 30 days, from the date they receive a payment to attest and accept the Terms and Conditions or return the funds. With the extension, not returning the payment within 45 days of receipt will be viewed as acceptance of the Terms and Conditions.