COVID-19 Email Update - June 25, 2020

Finding a New Normal - By Dr. Sharhonda Harrill, NCOS Member

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." Thomas Pain wrote these words on December 23, 1776 in an article titled "The Crisis." But it can very well be used in today's current war on Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

It is in these times that we must rise to the occasion and show the world that as optometrists we are prepared. But how? We were not taught how to handle a viral pandemic in school. 

I have been speaking to and observing other healthcare workers, doctors, daycare centers, and various industries across our state in how they are handling this situation and compiled a standard of procedure that will perhaps help us all find a new normal as we prepare to go back into our offices and serve our various communities.

Click here
 to continue reading.

A Message From Dr. Rebecca Wartman, NCOS Third Party Liaison

NCDHHS Medicaid Telehealth Modernization Plan

NC Medicaid is seriously considering a proposal to permanently extend and modernize telehealth for NC. There will be a public comment period that the NCOS is monitoring closely so we can submit timely comments.

NC360 is Now Active in All 100 North Carolina Counties

Optometrists can use this network when needing to link a patient with other NC Health and Human Services agencies easily and quickly. Be sure to investigate this great tool and consider having your practice listed as a resource for eye care.

Click here for more information.

A Message from NCTracks on Behalf of NC Medicaid Deputy Secretary Dave Richard

Click here to view the message.

AOA COVID-19 Resources

Governor Cooper's New Executive Order

Yesterday, Governor Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Mandy Cohen, announced that North Carolina will remain in Safer at Home Phase 2 for three more weeks. Cooper also announced that face coverings must be worn when people are in public places as officials seek to stabilize concerning trends of increasing viral spread.

On June 24, 2020 there were 1,721 new cases and 906 people in the hospital. NC has added "answer the call" if you are contacted by one of the many contact tracers working in NC at this time. If you are contacted, this means someone you have been in close contact with has tested positive for COVID-19. 

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. Until now, face coverings had been strongly recommended. Under yesterday's executive order, people must wear face coverings when in public places where physical distancing is not possible.

Click here to view the North Carolina COVID-19 information hub.


Businesses can download templates for signs on face coverings here. Downloadable social media graphics are also available for use.  

Read Executive Order No. 147 that implements yesterday's announcement.  

Read Frequently Asked Questions about yesterday's Executive Order and mandatory face coverings.  

Read NCDHHS' guidance on face coverings

View the slide presentation from yesterday's briefing.

NC Travel Advisory

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut said on Wednesday that travelers from nine states with high levels of COVID-19 infections would be told to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. 

Starting June 25th, anyone from a state "with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average," would be required to self-isolate. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who, like the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut is a Democrat, said the rule currently applies to Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Texas and Washington State.

Click here to read the full article.

NCDHHS COVID-19 Testing Guidance

Palmetto GBA Recorded Webinar for Optometry Co-management

Jurisdiction J and M Part B providers are invited to view a Palmetto GBA recorded video presentation addressing Medicare coverage and proper billing of optometry services when the global surgical package of care is co-managed. The slide below was included concerning Premium IOLs.

Click here to watch the videos.

NC FAST ePASS Mobile Application Update

This week, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is launching an improved, mobile-friendly online application for Medicaid and Food and Nutrition Services that will help support social distancing and beneficiary applications from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina's online application portal, ePASS, has been improved with new and updated features that will provide an easier user experience with specific enhancements to be more mobile-friendly. 

Updated features include:

  • Improved look and feel making navigation easier on mobile devices
  • Fewer questions and enabling applicants to only answer questions applicable to them
  • Personalized dashboards with important account information and notifications
  • Guidance placed throughout the site based on frequently asked questions
  • Ability to attach documents easily
  • Links to relevant program information
  • Links to paper applications and voter registration

The new initiative provides an experience that is streamlined, mobile-friendly and easier for the user. These changes do not impact any previously submitted application. Any questions about existing applications will still be directed to the County DSS offices

To learn more about the new features of NC FAST's ePASS upgrade, visit the NC Medicaid/Health Choice webpage or the NCDHHS Food and Nutrition Service webpage. The attached flyers (English/Spanish) can be printed and shared with Medicaid beneficiaries, as appropriate. They also are available online.

CNBC Update - June 24, 2020 

The seven-day average of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. soared 30% from a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. Cases are growing in at least 26 states, including Texas, California and Florida. Meanwhile, the District of Columbia and 16 states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, reported declines in new infections. 

Click here to read the full article.

NC Hospital Capacity Trends

NC is now at a 20% open bed capacity, which is concerning to Public Health Officials.

Daycare Clusters of COVID-19 Being Identified by NCDHHS

NCDHHS is identifying daycares with COVID-19 clusters. Clusters are defined as at least 5 cases within 14 days where the cases are epidemiologically linked. If a facility has less than 5 cases and/or the cases are not epidemiologically linked, that facility will not be identified.

Lawmakers Want a Full Study of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Crisis

A bill before Congress calls on the Health and Human Services Department and the Government Accountability Office to produce separate studies on how telehealth has been used to address the coronavirus pandemic.

Click here to read the full article.

New Resources

COVID-19 Clinical Guidance for Pediatric Patients with Rheumatic Disease (6/25/20)

Sheps COVID-19 North Carolina Collaborative Modeling (6/25/20)

Physical Distancing, Face Masks, and Eye Protection to Prevent Person-to-Person Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (6/25/20)

NCOS COVID-19 Updates & Resources Page

Click here!

COVID-19 Statistics

NCDHHS COVID-19 Dashboard

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center

WorldoMeter Coronavirus Website