A new Executive Order going into effect today at 8 p.m. (see here) requires that all employees of “Essential Businesses” in New York State “shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public.”
Home care, as with other health care settings, has been defined as an “essential business” since early in the state’s emergency declaration; providers are, therefore, subject to the new requirement in the Governor’s Executive Order.
The state Department of Health (DOH) has issued a guidance for health care settings, defining “face covering” as including, but not limited to, “cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N-95 respirators, and face shields.”
By HCA’s read, this Executive Order means that home care providers must coordinate: 1) the new state requirement for furnishing staff with at least cloth or surgical masks; and 2) other guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, state and local Departments of Health on use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), conservation and prioritization.
Our understanding is that where PPE is available and recommended, it should be used, and for all instances, providers must follow at least the levels of protection required under the Executive Order. HCA is in the process of gaining further clarification and will alert the membership of new information as it is obtained.
This new order comes at a time when home and community-based providers are struggling with urgent shortages in the supply and distribution of PPE that HCA has been working vigorously to overcome for the safety of staff and patients, especially in New York City but also throughout the state.
HCA has been in continual outreach to state and local officials on this matter and, for New York City providers specifically, we are working with the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on a plan to coordinate a PPE distribution plan for home and community-based care that may require further information from providers for procedural reasons. Please stay tuned.