President Biden’s National COVID-19 Strategy and EOs
Yesterday, President Biden distributed his “National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness,” focused on seven goals to tackle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The strategy is supplemented by a number of Executive Actions (EOs), several of which may impact the industry, including:
- Improving the Capacity of the Nation’s Healthcare Systems to Address COVID-19 (p.141): This EO authorizes the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of HHS, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and other relevant heads of departments and agencies, in coordination with the president’s COVID-19 Response Coordinator, to provide “surge assistance” to nursing homes and assisted living communities. Early indications suggest that this assistance is going to target PPE and testing, but not necessarily vaccine assistance. We are working to gather information on some outstanding questions, such as what defines a ‘surge,’ how one applies for this relief, and where the appropriated funds are coming from. While we may not know these answers immediately, we are encouraged that assisted living is specifically outlined for resources.
- Collection of Data (p.148): This EO asks various federal entities to look into data issues and technology deficiencies and includes a review of morbidity and mortality data by state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments. It is possible this is a precursor to proposals on further reporting recommendations.
- FEMA Engagement (p.160) This Presidential Memorandum calls on FEMA to completely fund the cost of activities associated with the National Guard’s COVID-19 response. FEMA emergency protective measures conducted before, during, and after the pandemic are eligible under Public Assistance Category B expenses if it is determined that the measures taken limit or lesson immediate threats to lives or public health/safety. This may include activities needed to provide for the safe opening and operation of several entities such as schools, childcare centers, healthcare facilities, and other eligible applicants. While healthcare facilities are noted, nursing homes and assisted living communities are not specifically called out.