CMS Updates County Data for COVID-19 Testing Weekly Now

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

On Monday, September 21, 2020, AHCA/NCAL posted a blog entitled CMS to Update County Data for COVID-19 Testing Weekly and Allow Use of State or County Data in Updated Methodology (underlining added by me to emphasize CMS changes):

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has updated the Excel file that flags COVID-19 positive test rates in counties. CMS modified the method for classifying a county as green, yellow, or red and expanded the measure to cover results over a 14-day period in each county instead of seven days. SNFs should use the color classification provided in the file.

The revised methodology results in some red counties with rates >10% being reclassified to yellow:  

  • Green = Counties with test percent positivity <5.0% or with <20 tests in past 14 days 
  • Yellow = Counties with test percent positivity 5.0%-10.0%; OR with <500 tests and <2,000 tests/100k and >10% positivity over 14 days 
  • Red = >10.0% and not meeting the criteria for “Green” or “Yellow” 

Posting Frequency: CMS also clarified that it will post county data weekly​. It stated that facilities must check weekly and should pick one day of the week to check each week. They should document their plan for checking and document the dates used by CMS for the data in the top of the Excel file.  

Using State or County Data: CMS has indicated on several national calls that facilities can use test positivity data released by their state or county if the data is more recent than the CMS data. The facility must document the source and date of the data being used.” 

CMS has not yet updated the verbiage on the COVID-19 Nursing Home Data webpage which still shows:    “Facilities should monitor these rates every other week and adjust staff testing accordingly.”   Note the bolded verbiage above in Posting Frequency; also the need to document the source and date of data being used in Using State or County Data.