August 26, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

POMA continues to monitor the 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

Department of Health, Community Groups Roll Out COVID-19 Mobile Response Unit to Provide Testing and Education to Underserved Communities

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine announced on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, a unique partnership with Latino Connection, Highmark Blue Shield and the Independence Blue Cross Foundation to create the first-in-the-nation COVID-19 Mobile Response Unit to provide testing and education targeting minority and underserved communities throughout Pennsylvania.

Known as CATE, Community-Accessible Testing & Education, the unit is equipped to conduct COVID-19 testing on-site through a mobile RV vehicle while also educating the public on how to stay healthy and safe.

Those interested in visiting CATE can find the tour stop schedule listed on their website or on their Facebook page. In A New Window. Services are available on a first come, first serve basis. Social distancing and masking guidelines and will be followed at all times. While each tour stop provider’s policies are different, most providers, if not short on testing supplies, will test anyone who believes they’ve been exposed to COVID. Other providers may only test those who are experiencing symptoms. Questions about specific CATE stops can be directed to [email protected].

Pennsylvania Update on COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring Dashboard

This week, Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine released a weekly status update detailing the state’s mitigation efforts based on the COVID-19 Early Warning Monitoring System Dashboard.

As of Thursday, August 20, the state has seen a seven-day case increase of 4,456; the previous seven-day increase was 5,598, indicating a 1,142-case decrease across the state over the past week.

The statewide percent-positivity went down to 3.4% from 4.0% last week. Counties with concerning percent-positivity include Perry (9.1%), Huntingdon (7.8%), Northumberland (7.3%), Indiana (7.1%), Union (5.9%), Susquehanna (5.7%), York (5.5%), Beaver (5.3%), and Blair (5.0%). Each of these counties bears watching as the state continues to monitor all available data.

FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Convalescent Plasma as Potential Promising COVID–19 Treatment

On August 23, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for investigational convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19. Based on scientific evidence available, the FDA concluded, as outlined in its decision memorandum, this product may be effective in treating COVID-19 and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.

Today’s action follows the FDA’s extensive review of the science and data generated over the past several months stemming from efforts to facilitate emergency access to convalescent plasma for patients as clinical trials to definitively demonstrate safety and efficacy remain ongoing.

The EUA authorizes the distribution of COVID-19 convalescent plasma in the U.S. and its administration by health care providers, as appropriate, to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Department of Health Pilots COVID-19 Exposure Notification Mobile App to Strengthen Contact Tracing and Mitigation Efforts

Last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced that it is conducting a pilot program for a new COVID-19 exposure-notification mobile app, COVID Alert PA, which will be available to smartphone users starting early September. The app is designed to help bolster the state’s contact-tracing efforts, not replace them. Case investigations and contact tracing are still needed.

In September, you can find the COVID Alert PA app for free to download in the Google Play store or Apple App store. This app is voluntary, but the more Pennsylvanians age 18 and older who adopt the app, the more successful efforts can be. The app does not enable any location services and is designed to be completely anonymous.

In addition, the app will provide users with the latest information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania from the department’s data dashboard.

Previously Published but Relevant Headlines

Provider Relief Fund: New Applications Being Accepted - DEADLINE August 28

On July 31, 2020, HHS announced that certain Medicare providers would be given another opportunity to receive additional Provider Relief Fund payments. These are providers who previously missed the June 3, 2020 deadline to apply for additional funding equal to 2 percent of their total patient care revenue from the $20 billion portion of the $50 billion Phase 1 General Distribution, including many Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and dental providers with low Medicare revenues. In addition, certain providers who experienced a change in ownership, making them previously ineligible for Phase 1 funding, will also be given an opportunity to apply for financial relief.

Starting August 10, 2020, these eligible providers may now submit their application for possible funds by August 28, 2020. This deadline aligns with the extended deadline for other eligible Phase 2 providers, such as Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, CHIP, and dental providers.

  • Providers who did not receive an initial payment that totals approximately 2 percent of their annual patient revenue
  • Providers who did receive an initial payment, but missed the June 3rd deadline to submit their revenue information
  • Providers who were ineligible for prior General Distribution funds due to a change in ownership or because they did not have Medicare fee-for-service revenue in 2019
  • Providers who previously received Phase 1 General Distribution payment(s), but rejected and returned the funds and are now interested in reapplying.

All eligible providers will only receive funding of up to 2 percent of their reported total revenue from patient care.  The deadline for applying for funds is August 28, 2020.

Wolf Administration Highlights the Importance of Vaccinations and Introduces Updated Guidelines for New School Year

The Pennsylvania departments of Education, Health, Human Services, and Insurance are reminding parents to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date as part of back-to-school preparations. Vaccine requirements also extend to students of cyber and charter schools.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s recommended that parents and guardians schedule immunization appointments early, due to potential delays in scheduling and decreased appointment windows. To address this potential issue, the Department of Health has temporarily suspended the regulation regarding requirements for children’s immunization for a two-month period after the beginning of the school year or the beginning of enrollment in an early childhood education program.

The temporary regulatory suspension of children’s immunizations requirements allows children to enter and attend school or an early childhood program for two months without the required immunizations. The department is temporarily suspending the list of immunizations a child must have and the grades in which the child must have them, the requirement that children who do not meet the regulations should be excluded, the guidelines that schools need to follow to verify that children with medical exemptions who are on a plan to get their immunizations actually get them, and the regulation that requires children currently enrolled in child care programs maintain updated immunizations according to the federal guidelines.

Additional information on immunizations can be found on the Department of Health’s website at

Pennsylvania Suspends Licensing Requirements

Due to COVID-19, Governor Wolf has granted a number of temporary waivers for health care professionals to increase the available number of practitioners in the Commonwealth and reduce barriers to temporary licensure. Following are a list of waivers relevant for osteopathic physicians:

Click here for a complete list of suspended licensing regulations. For all licensing-related inquiries, please use the email addresses found here to contact the appropriate licensing board.

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

Daily Briefings and Updates from Pa. Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine

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 |