Update 3/2/21 – Additional Frontline Essential Workers will be eligible for vaccine beginning on Wednesday, March 3. Please be sure to share our video with Frontline Essential Workers talking about why they plan to take their shot (English / Spanish) and our video with Agricultural Workers (Spanish)
We will plan to move to Group 4, beginning with people who have a medical condition that puts them at higher risk and live in additional congregate settings, on March 24. This population includes anyone with conditions that have been identified by the CDC as increasing risk for severe COVID-19 illness and anyone who is living in congregate or close group living settings who is not already vaccinated including, people experiencing homelessness or living in a homeless shelter and people in a correctional facility, such as jail or prison. Learn more – Deeper Dive Group 4: Adults at Higher Risk of Exposure and Increased Risk of Severe Illness (Higher-Risk Conditions and Additional Congregate Settings).
Definitions in Group 4 have been clarified. High-risk medical conditions include Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, including Down Syndrome, and neurologic conditions, such as dementia and schizophrenia. Learn more – Deeper Dive Group 4: Adults at High Risk for Exposure and Increased Risk of Severe Illness (Essential Workers Not Yet Vaccinated and Other Group Living Settings)
The definition of long-term care in Group 1 has been updated for people with intellectual and developmental disability. Long-term care includes people receiving long- term home care for more than 30 days including Home and Community Based Services for persons with intellectual and developmental disability, private duty nursing, personal care services, and home health and hospice. Learn more – Deeper Dive Group 1: Health Care Workers and Long-Term Care Staff and Residents.
Update 2/11/21 – NC DHHS will begin a new phase for Vaccines and open them up to Group 3. Because supply is still very limited and the population of frontline essential workers is so large, it will begin with anyone working in childcare or in PreK – 12 schools starting on February 24th . A deeper dive into who is in Group 3 – Frontline Essential Workers (School and Childcare) (English / Spanish).
FEDERAL FUNDS FOR PROVIDERS – October 1, 2020 – $20 billion in new funding for providers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible providers may begin applying for funding Monday, October 5, 2020 through Friday, November 6, 2020. Under this Phase 3 General Distribution allocation, providers that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments will be invited to apply for additional funding that considers financial losses and changes in operating expenses caused by the coronavirus. Previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020 will also be invited to apply, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic will also be eligible for relief payments. APPLY AND LEARN MORE HERE.
NC DHHS Proposes Permanent Changes to Medicaid Telehealth Rules. Comments are Due by August 15th.
NCDHHS announces two Request for Applications to support communities being hard hit by COVID-19. Community Engagement Grant – Seeking Applicants by 8/14. NCDHHS issued a Request for Applications for community engagement grants to organizations to assist our efforts in prevention and controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the African American community. The African American Community Engagement grants will be used to fund organizations to build awareness and support for DHHS prevention, testing, contact tracing, and isolation supports initiatives in regions of the state disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Applications are due by August 14. The Request for Applications will be online at https://www.ncminorityhealth.org/#whatsnew.
During federally declared emergencies, states can submit requests to ease certain waiver requirements through an Appendix K. NC Medicaid received approval of Appendix Ks for all four waivers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), effective March 13, 2020, to March 12, 2021.
Details of these flexibilities are available at: SPECIAL BULLETIN COVID-19 #105: NC Medicaid Receives Approval for Expanded Flexibilities for Home and Community Services – NC Innovations and NC TBI Waivers
A Statewide Standing Order for Diagnostic COVID-19 Testing that authorizes individuals to seek testing without a physician referral
Statewide Standing Order for Diagnostic COVID-19 Testing that authorizes individuals to seek testing without a physician referral.
A new effort to deploy up to 300 free testing sites in underserved communities. This initiative seeks to address historical health disparities by increasing access to no-cost COVID-19 testing for African American, Latinx/Hispanic and Native American communities across the state.
Patient guidance for Isolation and Quarantine issues such as what to do while awaiting test results and best practices one results are received are now available.
Updated Guidance for Residential Settings – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has developed guidance for Smaller Residential Settings Regarding Visitation, Communal Dining, Group and Outside Activities that applies to settings with 6 or fewer beds (for example: family care homes, supervised living group homes, and alternate family living arrangements.) Following is a link for that guidance which may followed at the expiration of EO No. 141 at 5:00 PM on Friday, June 26th. Guidance for Smaller Residential Settings Regarding Visitation, Communal Dining, Group and Outside Activities (June 26, 2020)
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has developed guidance for Outdoor Visitation for Larger Residential Settings such as Adult Care Homes, Behavioral Health/IDD, Intermediate Care Facilities and Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities. Following is a link for that guidance which may be followed at the expiration of EO No. 141 at 5:00 PM on Friday, June 26th. Guidance on Outdoor Visitation for Larger Residential Settings (Adult Care Homes, Behavioral Health/IDD, Intermediate Care Facilities, Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities) (June 26, 2020)
Executive Order No. 147 which goes into effect on Friday, June 26th at 5:00 PM: https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/EO147-Phase-2-Extension.pdf Please note Section II. B. 9. which requires face coverings to be worn in all long term care facilities:
“Long Term Care Facilities. All workers in Long Term Care (“LTC”) Facilities, including skilled nursing facilities (“SNF”), adult care homes (“ACH”), family care homes (“FCH”), mental health group homes, and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (“ICF-IID”), must wear Face Coverings while in the facility, and those Face Coverings must be Surgical Masks, as long as Surgical Mask supplies are available.”
NCDHHS Announces $26 Million to Help Mitigate the Economic Disruption of COVID-19 – NC Community Action Agencies (CAAs) have begun to receive flexible funds that can be used to help low-income individuals and families meet a variety of needs caused by the economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds are part of the federal Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) and can, among other allowable uses, help eligible residents facing eviction with unmet rent and utility expenses. To be eligible for CSBG-funded services, individuals and families must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. To apply for help, contact your local Community Action Agency. For additional information on the CSBG funding or contact information for the 33 Community Action Agencies in North Carolina, visit ncdhhs.gov/csbg-contacts [ncdhhs.gov]
Effective March 10, 2020, through the conclusion of the North Carolina declared state of emergency related to the COVID-19 crisis, NC Medicaid is temporarily increasing the number of therapeutic leave days for Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF-IIDs) from 60 days to 120 days. This is a change from the previous increase to 90 days. NC Medicaid continues to waive the requirement of approval needed for more than 15 consecutive days per Clinical Coverage Policy 8E. For more information, please refer to SPECIAL BULLETIN COVID-19 #94: Second Increase in Therapeutic Leave Days for ICF/IDD Facilities Due to COVID-19.
May 21 – Governor Roy Cooper has announced Phase II of the current state restrictions due to COVID-19. Phase II will allow specified businesses to begin operations with restrictions. Below are the details:
Phase 2 Resources
Interim Guidance for:
NC DHHS also unveiled an updated COVID-19 Dashboard. The interactive dashboard provides an overview on the metrics and capacities that the state is following to inform decisions to responsibly ease measures that slow the spread of the virus.
Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr-bulletin-3-28-20.pdf released in March by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The objective by OCR is to ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs.
SPECIAL BULLETIN COVID-19 #83: Title II Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 Rehabilitation Act (RA) Protections during the COVID-19 Pandemic
April 30th SPECIAL BULLETIN COVID-19 #75: Telehealth and Virtual Patient Communications Clinical Policy Modifications – Behavioral Health Service Flexibilities – Innovations and TBI Waivers Appendix K and Developmental Disability State Funded Benefit Plans
A list of affected Medicaid billing codes, direction about managing copays already collected, and other important information is included in SPECIAL BULLETIN COVID-19 #62: Clinical Policy Modifications – Suspending Copays on COVID-19-related Services.
NC Medicaid is directing increased financial assistance to NC Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) and Adult Care Homes (ACH) to support addressing the increased costs of caring for COVID positive (COVID+) residents in a congregate care setting. This targeted assistance is retroactive to April 1, 2020. See SPECIAL BULLETIN # 68
NC DHHS Received $2 million from SAMHSA for behavioral health support during COVID-19 crisis
Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina has received approval from FEMA to provide housing alternatives, such as hotels, motels, and dormitories, for North Carolinians with unstable housing who may need to quarantine in response to or are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Learn more.
Governor Cooper signed Executive Order 130 to provide more access to health care beds, expands the pool of health care workers and orders essential childcare services for workers responding to COVID-19. Link to the full order here and a summary can be found here.
Workers in office buildings may be at risk for exposure to the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Office building employers, building owners and managers, and building operations specialists can take steps to create a safe and healthy workplace and protect workers and clients. Create a COVID-19 workplace health and safety plan.
Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings” released in April, providing U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance regarding allowing visitors who are essential for the patient’s physical or emotional well-being and care.
April 30, 2020 CMS Press Release on Second Round of Sweeping Changes to Support U.S. Healthcare System During COVID-19 Pandemic
Trump Administration Releases COVID-19 Telehealth Toolkit to Accelerate State Use of Telehealth in Medicaid and CHIP
Johnson and Johnson is seeking healthy adult volunteers who want to help in the fight against COVID-19 and are seeking volunteer for vaccine trials in several NC cities. Learn more at https://www.researchincludesme.com/
New (August 2020) NC DHHS COVID-19 Support Services Program and Community Health Worker Initiative
NCDHHS announced 39 free community testing events for underserved communities. Find testing sites available in your community by visiting Find My Testing Place and Community Testing Events on the NCDHHS website.
NC DHHS has launched an online tools to help Spanish-speaking North Carolinians to determine if they should consider being tested for COVID-19 and help individuals monitor their symptoms if they have tested positive for or been exposed to COVID-19. You can find these materials at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/preventandprotect – scroll down to Check Your Symptoms.
COVID-19 Community Testing Events page
Text FOODNC to 877-877 to locate nearby free meal sites. The texting service is also available in Spanish by texting COMIDA to 877-877.
WATCH the new video featuring Dr. Tilson: “How to Properly Use a Cloth Face Covering
NC DHHS has created a Prevent and Protect Media Toolkit includes:
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:
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. 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.
EVERY MONDAY – Joint DMHDDSAS and DHB (NC Medicaid) COVID-19 Update Call For BH/IDD Consumers, Family Members and Community Stakeholders, 2:00 p.m. Call Toll-Free: 844-291-5495, Access Code: 1279313
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is using radio and video messages to reach historically marginalized populations to share important messages about reducing risks for COVID-19.
NC DHHS flyer and video for beneficiaries on benefits of using telehealth during COVID-19
NC DHHS Letter to Medicaid recipients on COVID-19 with information and resources.
Submit behavioral health/I-DD related questions and requests for information to: BHIDD.COVID.Qs@dhhs.nc.gov
NCDHHS has two new mental health resources to support North Carolinians throughout the COVID-19 crisis: Hope4NC Helpline (1-855-587-3463) and the Hope4Healers Helpline (919-226-2002). Learn more about these resources.
NC 2-1-1 by United Way of North Carolina is now available for people to call for assistance related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. NC 211 is a free statewide United Way-funded hotline that gives callers access to resources, such as food, financial assistance, and other basic needs. This confidential service is available in many languages. Dial 2-1-1 or TTY (888) 892-1162 for help. You can also search for information online at www.nc211.org look under need help.
COVID-19 text information and updates are available. To sign up, text COVIDNC to 898211.
NC COVID-19 Non-Emergency Questions – CALL 211 or TEXT COVIDNC to 898211
Promise Resource Network has a Warm-Line for anyone experiencing emotional distress, isolation, sadness or just wants to talk. CALL 833 390-7728 24/7 – We. Hear. You.
Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., has announced the extension of their patient support program to provide “no-cost” access to its branded portfolio of medicines for eligible patients in the U.S. who have lost a job or health insurance coverage due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an Order to create a $200 million telehealth program to support healthcare, behavioral and substance abuse providers responding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, using funds appropriated as part of the CARES Act. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program will help providers purchase telecommunications, broadband connectivity, and devices necessary for providing telehealth services. Applications from will be accepted and processed on a rolling basis as soon as application forms are published in the Federal Register. Details on information that applications must include are on page 14 of the Order. >https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-44A1.pdf<
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This July, communities are facing the “perfect storm” of crises that are deepening the disparities in mental health and wellbeing. The current COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis, behavioral health crisis, and the civil unrest stemming from recent incidents of police brutality has impacted all of America, but disproportionately affects communities of color. On Thursday, July 16 at 3:00 pm EDT, join this virtual roundtable hosted by the NNED National Facilitation Center and SAMHSA’s Office of Behavioral Health Equity in partnership with SAMHSA’s Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network Coordinating Office to learn how faith-based NNED partner organizations are supporting the mental health concerns of racial/ethnic minorities and providing opportunities to receive support and connection through faith-based practices and partnerships. Register for webinar https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uFnV3ToISW6ppcjmzGia0Q
New (June 2020) COVID-19 resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) related to individuals with disabilities:
National Center for State Courts, the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging, and the National Guardianship Association: Frequently Asked Questions by Guardians about the COVID-19 Pandemic
PsycHub has a new FREE Learning Hub on Telemental Health ! that includes an engaging course for mental health providers which gives pertinent info to take your practice online. It also includes one-year free access to a series of companion videos to send to clients helping them transition to online sessions. https://lms.psychhub.com/
Psych Hub has created a COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub – a free digital hub to help individuals and providers address their mental health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.
Resources for Families During the Extended School Break: