COVID-19

Office Hours with Drs. Tilson and Moore, Friday, August 14th and Friday August 28th,  12:30 – 1:30

August 3, 2020

As part of the State’s continuing efforts to ensure providers have the information they need, Dr. Betsey Tilson, State Health Director and Chief Medical Officer, and Dr. Zack Moore, State Epidemiologist, will provide brief updates on the State’s COVID-19 response and will respond to questions on Friday, August 14th and Friday August 28th, all from 12:30 – 1:30. You can send questions in advance to questionsCOVID19forum@gmail.com. Contact us for Zoom information.


Provider Relief Fund Reminder

July 17, 2020

Monday, July 20, 2020, is the federal deadline for Medicaid providers to receiving federal relief funding through the Provider Relief Fund. This funding is aimed at Medicaid providers that have not yet received an allocation from the CARES Act.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has observed that as few as 2% of providers nationally have applied for these funds. We understand there has been confusion in accessing different CARES funding streams and challenges in submitting required information amidst the public health emergency. We encourage providers to apply if they think they might be eligible.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services detailed FAQs has helpful information about accessing the funding portal. More information is available in SPECIAL BULLETIN COVID-19 #111: REMINDER: Provider Relief Fund Deadline Monday, July 20, 2020.

Thank you for your dedication and commitment to ensure our North Carolina Medicaid beneficiaries receive the services and treatment they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Announcement – Free Testing Initiative

July 8, 2020

The NC Department of Health and Human Services announced a new effort to deploy up to 300 free testing sites in underserved communities. This targeted testing initiative seeks to confront historical health disparities by increasing access to no-cost COVID-19 testing for African American, Latinx/Hispanic and American Indian communities across the state.

A disproportionately high percentage of North Carolina’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred among historically marginalized populations. Mounting evidence shows the members of these populations experience higher rates of COVID-19 mortality and serious complications.

As many as 300 temporary testing sites will be deployed throughout the month of July, including drive-thru and walk-up sites. The initiative will increase testing capacity in more than 100 ZIP codes, providing testing access for 2.2 million African American, Latinx/Hispanic and American Indian individuals. Two vendors have been identified to begin this work, Vidant Health and Orig3n, Inc.

The initiative emphasizes a community testing approach. The awarded vendors are required to connect individuals with medical homes and provide services with culturally and linguistically appropriate standards, working within existing trusted community partnerships; additionally, no payment from the individual will be needed for the testing. Insurance, if available, will be billed but no co-pays or cost-sharing will be asked of anyone seeking testing. Those who are uninsured will have full access to free testing at these sites.

Communities were selected based on low testing capacity and high African American, Latinx/Hispanic and/or American Indian populations. Higher concentration of elderly populations with multiple chronic conditions and higher rates of construction and seasonal farm work were also factors.

For more information on testing, please see the Frequently Asked Questions about Testing. For more information about North Carolina’s response to COVID-19, visit nc.gov/covid19.


State Health Director Issues Temporary COVID-19 Reporting Order

July 7, 2020

Today, July 7, 2020, North Carolina State Health Director Elizabeth Tilson, MD, MPH issued a temporary order requiring physicians, laboratories and others ordering or conducting COVID-19 diagnostic tests to report negative test results in addition to the requirement to report postive results.

The reason for the order is to track diagnostic test results necessary “for surveillance of a communicable disease that presents a danger to public health.”

The order is effective immediately and expires in 90 days.

Read Dr. Tilson’s order.

Get more information on the method of reporting and what must be included in the report here.

Review the full statewide standing order for COVID-19 diagnostic testing here.

As outlined in the standing order document, testing sites are now authorized to receive the results of the test directly from the testing laboratory. The NC Department of Health and Human Services believes this will help reduce barriers to testing, especially for historically marginalized populations.

The Isolation and Quarantine (Spanish) guidance explains to patients what they should do while waiting for test results to come back and then once they have received the results.


New Tools to Share

July 1, 2020

As you continue to work tirelessly to slow the spread of COVID-19 in your communities, I am writing to announce a new social media advertising campaign we’ve launched to continue to support your efforts as part of our larger Prevent and Protect public outreach campaign.

The baseline social media advertising campaign has been made possible through a grant from Facebook, Inc., which has provided advertising credits and design support. The ads will run in English and Spanish.

We are asking for your help to amplify these Prevent and Protect campaign messages in your communities. The social media ads can be downloaded and shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media and online platforms.

These ads are part of our larger Prevent and Protect communications campaign, which launched earlier this month. Prevent and Protect encourages North Carolinians to:

  • Practice the 3Ws (known as PEL in Spanish) and wear a cloth covering over their nose and mouth; wait six feet apart; and wash their hands often.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 and use Find My Testing Place to locate a nearby testing site.
  • Answer the call and participate in the contact tracing process if they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

As you know, data shows that historically marginalized populations across North Carolina are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. For that reason, our Prevent and Protect campaign strategy is:

  • Creating a baseline, statewide focus on reaching historically marginalized populations.
  • Adding additional focus on reaching:
  • people who work in occupations that are being most impacted and have a large representation among those from historically marginalized populations;
  • and counties currently seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.
  • Relying on community partners (like you!) to amplify the messages on social media.

Prevent and Protect campaign resources (social media ads, infographics, flyers, posters for businesses in your community, and more) are available at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/PreventAndProtect. We encourage you to share these materials and resources through your own communications channels and with your local community partners. Materials are available in English and Spanish.


COVID-19 Preventive Materials

June 25, 2020

Scientific research shows that preventative measures such as hand washing and wearing cloth coverings over the nose and mouth are effective ways to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities by lowering risk of exposure to COVID-19.

That’s why Governor Roy Cooper announced that coverings over the nose and mouth must be worn when people are in both indoor and outdoor public spaces. This step, in addition to encouraging people to stay six feet apart, wash hands, and stay home when ill, will help us

  • protect our families, friends and neighbors from getting seriously ill, and
  • restore our economy and get people back to work and get our children back to school.

Growing evidence shows that cloth face coverings, when worn consistently, can decrease the spread of COVID-19, especially among people who are not yet showing symptoms of the virus.

We are writing to you today to ask for your help. We have created resources to empower community partners and small businesses to communicate about the cloth coverings state requirement to protect their loved ones, employees, and customers.

We ask that you share these materials widely through your own communications channels and with your partners. Our Prevent and Protect Media Toolkit includes:

  • Social media graphics in English and Spanish answering basic questionsabout wearing coverings over the mouth and nose. Images used in the graphics reflect the diversity of North Carolina.
  • Posters for businesses and community organizations to print and hang that remind people to wear cloth coverings over their nose and mouth and celebrate the commitment businesses in your community have made to protect employees and customers. We encourage you to place the posters in your breakrooms, waiting rooms, building entrances or doors, and other frequented locations.

You can find more information about the new cloth covering Executive Order in this press release and answers to frequently asked questions in this Guidance and FAQS.

In addition to materials about cloth coverings, the Prevent and Protect Media Toolkit is full of social media posts and images, infographics, customizable flyers, and more to get the word out about preventative measures (3Ws), testing and contact tracing and help North Carolinians protect themselves and their loved ones against the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to update the page with new materials, so please check back often. All materials are available in English and Spanish.

Thank you for your continued efforts to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19, and for your commitment to ensuring your community and the communities you serve are informed and supported.


Special Bulletin COVID-19 #101

June 23, 2020

North Carolina providers that participate in Medicaid may be eligible to receive federal relief as a result of lost revenue or new expenses relating to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. On June 8, 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a targeted distribution for Medicaid providers that have not yet received payment from the Provider Relief Fund. Eligible providers will receive at least 2 percent of reported annual gross revenue from patient care. Providers can apply by July 20, 2020 to receive payments. For more information, please see SPECIAL BULLETIN COVID-19 #101: Medicaid Providers May Be Eligible for Federal Funding.

HHS is hosting webcasts at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, and Thursday, June 25, 2020, to provide information about the application process for providers. Pre-registration for the webcast and additional information is available here.

Additionally, updates have been made to Key Federal Funding Available for Health Care Providers and Hospitals to include Provider Relief Fund allocations for Medicaid and CHIP providers, safety net hospitals, Indian Health Services, and COVID-19 High Impact Areas, and reflect updates to the COVID-19 Telehealth Program and Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program.

All NC Medicaid Bulletin articles, including those related to COVID-19, may be found here.


Learning Opportunity

June 18, 2020

Southern Regional AHEC is offering a livestream webinar on Saturday, June 25 from noon to 1:30 p.m. titled ‘A Critical Conversation: Listening and Learning Together.’

The persistent and pervasive injustices to black and brown people and other multicultural populations have long been documented over many generations. Persons of color continue to experience health disparities at an alarmingly disproportionate rate as evidenced by recent and historical acts of racism, violence, inequities and power paradigms. While many are sensitive to and saddened by these unfortunate realities, civil unrest across the nation has driven a call to action. The purpose of this activity is to facilitate a critical yet necessary conversation surrounding race relations, providing an open space for dialogue and bridging gaps at the public sector level, so that communities can listen and learn together. Learn more and register here.


$15B More in Relief Available for Those Participating in Medicaid/CHIP

June 9, 2020

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), announced additional distributions from the Provider Relief Fund to eligible Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providers who participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs. HHS expects to distribute approximately $15 billion to these eligible clinicians who have not already received a payment from the Provider Relief Fund General Allocation.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 10, HHS is launching an enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal that will allow eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers to report their annual patient revenue, which will be used as a factor in determining their Provider Relief Fund payment. The payment to each provider will be at least 2 percent of reported gross revenue from patient care; the final amount will be determined after the data is submitted, including information about the number of Medicaid patients served.

Learn More


New Testing Tools and Supports

June 4, 2020

Today, NCDHHS is announcing new testing and contact tracing tools to help slow the spread of COVID-19. As we continue to increase testing and expand contact tracing, we want to ensure each and every person has the information and support they need to protect themselves and their loved ones. By working together and each doing our part, we will slow the spread of this virus.

We are asking for your help to share information and increase awareness of the COVID-19 Community Team (what North Carolina is calling our contact tracers) and new tools being launched today. These tools and supports are described below. We have also included a promotional toolkit to help share these new resources with your community.

New Testing Tools for Everyone to Use

There are several new digital tools available to help expand testing capacity, streamline contact tracing efforts, and provide members of your community with guidance on how to protect themselves and their families. These tools include:

  • Check My Symptoms (www.ncdhhs.gov/symptoms),apublic website that allows people to enter their symptoms and determine if they should get tested for COVID-19. If they are recommended to be tested, they will receive a link to a list of nearby testing sites via email or text.  Note: The symptom checker is an informational tool to help people determine if they may need to be tested; however it is not a physician order. Testing sites may require their own screening.
  • Find My Testing Place (www.ncdhhs.gov/TestingPlace), a public website that allows people to input their county or ZIP code and access a list of nearby testing site locations online.

The COVID-19 Community Team

The COVID-19 Community Team is made up of trained Local Health Department staff and Community team members who  are serving as contact tracers across the state.

Team members reach out to people who have tested positive for COVID-19, or anyone who has been near someone with COVID-19, and get them the information and support they need. This support can include helping someone understand what it means to have been exposed to COVID-19, how to monitor their symptoms, when to get tested, if needed, and how to protect their loved ones.

When the COVID-19 Community Team reaches out, it is important that people answer the call. Individuals being contacted would get an initial text from the number 45394 or email from NC-ARIAS-NoReply@dhhs.nc.gov with follow-up phone calls from NC OUTREACH (844-628-7223) or the Local Health Department. The Community Team represents North Carolinians across the state and will be available to provide support and information in multiple languages.

A Promotional Toolkit to Help Spread the Word

To help you get the word out about the COVID-19 Community Team and the new tools announced today, we have created a promotional toolkit that we hope you will use. This shared message helps us all overcome misinformation and ensure that everyone is getting the right information. The toolkit includes:

  • Flyers about getting tested for COVID-19 and using the Check My Symptoms online tool.
  • A flyer reminding people to practice the 3Ws of prevention: Wear. Wait. Wash.
  • Sample Facebook and Twitter posts with images for you to share on social media.
  • COMING SOON:An infographic explaining the COVID-19 Community Team and the contact tracing process.

You can find the toolkit resources at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/preventandprotect.

For more information on testing and contact tracing, please see covid19.ncdhhs.gov/testing and covid19.ncdhhs.gov/contacttracing.


NCMB Role in North Carolina’s COVID-19 Response

April 30, 2020

Since mid-March, NCMB has taken numerous actions to support our state’s response to COVID-19. As the state’s licensing and regulatory board for physicians and physician assistants, NCMB’s efforts have focused primarily on ways to maximize the supply of qualified medical professionals available to assist with pandemic response.

Our efforts fall in two main areas: emergency temporary licensure for out-of-state or inactive clinicians who want to help in North Carolina and numerous actions to reduce barriers to licensure and practice. We’ve also developed FAQs on several issues related to practice during the current state of emergency, and organized actions related to COVID-19 on this resource page. For your convenience, we’ve compiled all of NCMB’s COVID-19 actions to date in a summary document, which you can access here.


Protocol

Apr 27, 2020

Please see the NCMS COVID-19 Update re: the North Carolina Protocol for Allocating Scarce Inpatient Critical Care Resources in a Pandemic (2020 protocol), a set of recommendations from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM), North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) and North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA). An educational webinar for clinicians on the protocol will be held on Tuesday, April 28 at 7 p.m.

Learn More


NC Medicaid Update Regarding COVID-19

Apr 27, 2020

NC Medicaid will reimburse providers for lost copay revenue. The reimbursement method and timing will be announced in the future. Note that providers can continue to collect copays for non-COVID-19 related services.

Learn More


COVID-19 Resources

Apr 1, 2020

We know there is a lot of information already coming your way, but we wanted to share some resources with you. Keep up the great work, and know that you are appreciated!

    • ACEP COVID-19 Clinical Alerts – Learn More
    • ACEP COVID-19 Field Guide – Learn More
    • ACEP COVID-19 Physician Wellness – Learn More
    • ACEP COVID-19 Discounts and Support – Learn More
    • CDC Guidance for Healthcare Professionals – Learn More
    • NC DHHS Guidance and Information – Learn More
    • NC Medical Board’s Latest Updates – Learn More
    • Help finding child care for health care and emergency employers – Learn More