Katie Smith Sloan
Katie Smith Sloan is president and CEO of LeadingAge.

LeadingAge sent a second letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Thursday, asking the White House and Department of Housing and Urban Development to issue guidance and offer regulatory relief for the thousands of HUD-assisted communities primarily serving older adults.

“While federal guidance has helped nursing homes, hospitals, and other health facilities serving older adults, HUD-assisted communities have yet to receive the level of relief and resources necessary,” the organization said.

Guidance is needed about “what a multifamily housing practitioner should do if a resident is diagnosed with COVID-19, particularly if they need continued access [to] community-based health or food services, and how providers should pay for extra staff and supplies,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said in the letter.

Sloan also said that annual income recertifications and TRACS requirements should be waived, requirements for in-person interaction should be streamlined temporarily, all expiring subsidy contracts should be renewed temporarily, visitation policies should be clarified and expanded access to funds for handling COVID-19 for housing providers should be permitted.

Additionally, Sloan said, current and new evictions should be halted, minimum rents suspended, hardship clauses expanded, and mobile testing and health services offered for elderly residents of affordable housing, and housing providers should be required to notify residents of any new and existing rights if their incomes have decreased due to COVID-19.

Sunday, LeadingAge referenced a transcript of a March 17 video message that was released by HUD Assistant Secretary for Housing Brian Montgomery on Sunday.

“While the statement did not reference any particular waivers, Commissioner Montgomery say[s], ‘Generally, we are waiving requirements that involve face-to-face contact or inspections that provide unnecessary risk,’ ” LeadingAge noted.

“HUD is working to ensure all housing assistance payments, operations funding, and other funding streams continue to be obligated throughout this period of uncertainty,” Montgomery said, directing people to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their local health departments “[f]or the safety of multifamily residents and all stakeholders, including those related to potential quarantine procedures.”

LeadingAge said it will continue to work with HUD to obtain specific guidance on waiving various regulatory requirements for HUD-assisted housing.

The organization previously sent a letter about HUD-assisted housing to the task force on March 6.

U.S. cases top 15,000; deaths top 200

There were 15,219 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Friday, including 201 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases have been reported in all 50 states as well as in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The virus continues to be reported by senior living communities across the country, although many communities have not reported any confirmed cases.

In other COVID-19-related news:

  • The CDC has issued interim guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in retirement and independent living communities. The guidance includes checklists for owners / operators / administrators, residents, workers, visitors and volunteers.
  • Sunday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a Section 1915(c) Appendix K template and other tools to help support state Medicaid programs during the COVID-19 outbreak. CMS developed the Appendix K to help states accelerate changes to their 1915(c) home and community-based services waiver operations or to request emergency amendments. The new template addendum has been pre-populated with commonly requested and relevant program changes, according to CMS.
  • The Department of Justice announced Sunday that it had filed its first enforcement action against COVID-19 fraud, in Austin, TX. The civil complaint came Saturday against the operators of the website coronavirusmedicalkit . com, which claimed to offer consumers access to World Health Organization vaccine kits for $4.95 when there currently are no legitimate COVID-19 vaccines and WHO is not distributing any such vaccine, the department said.
  • PHI is requesting that long-term care employers, direct care workers, consumers, family members and other long-term care leaders and advocates participate in a survey to help the organization raise awareness, build support and disseminate best practices for supporting the direct care workforce and their employers.
  • Atria Senior Living defended Atria Willow Wood in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where seven residents had tested positive for the virus and two had died as of Friday, from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ claim that day that administrators had not properly screened construction workers and staff members at the community, “allowing them to work their jobs unimpeded,” according to local10.com. Atria told the media outlet that the governor’s statement is “a completely inaccurate representation of our response to protect the health and safety of our residents” and said that since March 3, the community has screened all visitors “before any state guidance on this was provided.”
  • Residents of Laurel Lake, a continuing care retirement community in Hudson, OH, have not been receiving their mail because a letter carrier refuses to have his temperature taken before entering the building, saying that doing so “would be an illegal slowing or impediment of delivery,” the Akron Beacon-Journal reported Saturday. One postal official agreed, but another told the CCRC that submitting to temperature-taking was up to individual carriers. A Brookdale Senior Living community in Illinois recently reported a similar issue.