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COVID-19: New Symptoms; Workforce, Telehealth Toolkits

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on April 27 expanded its list of COVID-19 symptoms beyond fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

The six new symptoms include:

  • chills;
  • repeated shaking with chills;
  • muscle pain;
  • headache;
  • sore throat; and
  • new loss of taste or smell.

CDC also revised its testing guidance to reflect the new symptoms. Patients with high priority for COVID-19 testing include:

  • hospitalized patients;
  • health care facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms;
  • residents in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings, such as prisons and shelters, with symptoms; and
  • people identified through public health clusters and selected contact investigations.

Priority then should be given to the general public with COVID-19 symptoms and to people without symptoms who are flagged by health departments or clinicians for public health monitoring, sentinel surveillance, or other screening purposes.

Additionally, President Trump published the Testing Blueprint for Opening Up America Again. These guidelines aim to help states develop and deploy testing plans and prepare to re-open, as previously outlined in the administration’s Opening Up America Again guidelines.

CDC also published new resources for states, tribes, localities, and territories as part of the “Get and Keep America Open” initiative. These resources highlight:

HHS, CMS Workforce and Telehealth Toolkits

To aid health care providers in managing staffing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) published a Workforce Virtual Toolkit, including training resources, licensure information, and workplace resilience information.

HHS also encourages health care leaders to submit promising practices and resources to ASPR’s Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) COVID-19 Information Sharing Page.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also published a State Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Telehealth Toolkit to assist providers increasing telehealth use amid the pandemic. The toolkit includes state-level considerations, pediatric resources, frequently asked questions, and a checklist to assess state telehealth infrastructure.

MIPS Clinical Trials

CMS encourages health care providers participating in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) to report clinical trial information by attesting to the new COVID-19 Clinical Trials improvement activity.

To receive credit, clinicians must participate in a clinical trial using a drug or biological product to treat a patient with COVID-19 and report findings through a clinical data repository or data registry. Clinicians who report this activity automatically earn half of the total credit needed for the maximum score in the MIPS improvement activities category, which counts as 15 percent of the MIPS final score.

The agency also released an updated fact sheet summarizing the MIPS extreme and uncontrollable circumstances policy and procedures for MIPS-eligible clinicians affected by COVID-19.

Visit the America’s Essential Hospitals coronavirus resource page for more information about the outbreak.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Emily Schweich is a senior communications associate for America's Essential Hospitals.

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