COVID-19 Information & Resources

At a time when information is either coming in fast, is still developing, or is rumor-based, NASW DC has launched this special COVID-19 section to provide carefully curated, verified news and resources in a single location for all area social workers.

Every social worker in the Metro DC area, not just NASW members, should have access to the best information during this emergency, so please bookmark this public site, so you can check back often.

Social workers are well-trained and experienced in crisis management. We deal with different emergencies every day. While the public may panic about the pandemic, social work professionals in hospitals, schools, agencies, clinics, and elsewhere are calmly working to address community and individual needs in ways that help reduce stress and fear. This is when the 700,000 social workers in America can shine—on the frontlines of national and state responses to reduce the spread and impacts of COVID-19.

Thank you for all you are doing as a social worker. Please take care of yourself, too, so you can stay healthy and function at your best. If you have any questions, please email me at  

--Debra Riggs, CAE, Executive Director, NASW Metro DC Chapter

hand sanitizer

October 5, 2020 - Metro DC Chapter Applauds NASW Coalition Calling for CDC to Slow High Rate of COVID-19 in Jails, Prisons

NASW has co-signed a letter with a coalition of 100-plus medical experts, human rights organizations, and faith-based organizations that calls on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to revise its current COVID-19 guidance for adult and juvenile correctional facilities to restrict the use of punitive and prolonged solitary confinement as a form of pandemic response at the federal, state, and local levels.

The number of people held in prolonged solitary confinement has increased by an estimated 500 percent in U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, says NASW. According to the United Nations, the use of solitary confinement for more than 15 days can amount to torture, and the practice should be severely restricted, especially for pregnant women and people suffering from serious mental illness.

Numerous medical experts and public health officials have repeatedly warned that solitary confinement exacerbates the spread of the virus and is not an effective form of pandemic response. More than 1,000 incarcerated individuals have already died of COVID-19, and jails and prisons make up more than 90 percent of the nation’s top pandemic hotspots.

“Policymakers must enact sound, science-based measures to protect vulnerable populations in jails and prisons, so inmates do not contract COVID-19 and spread it when they return to their communities,” says NASW CEO Angelo McClain, PhD, LICSW. Social workers are encouraged to read the NASW Social Justice Brief, “Addressing COVID-19 and Correctional Facilities: A Social Work Imperative,” for more in-depth information on this advocacy topic.

“All of the valid evidence points to the fact that solitary confinement—which is disproportionately experienced by Black and Brown prison populations in DC and nationwide—does not restrict spread of the virus,” states NASW Metro DC Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “We urge the CDC to immediately respond to the five actions outlined in NASW’s coalition letter. That even basic soap or hand sanitizer is not widely available to people incarcerated is ridiculous.”

1)      Issue clear guidance to local, state, and federal corrections officials, judges, and law enforcement agencies on reducing adult and juvenile jail and prison intakes and population size to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

2)      Issue public health guidelines distinguishing “solitary confinement” from “quarantine” and “medical isolation” to prevent punitive conditions for those who contract COVID-19.

3)      Assemble a formal CDC working group on COVID-19 and prisons.

4)      Segregate suspected and documented COVID-19 patients from the general correctional population.

5)      Make soap and hand sanitizer freely accessible to all people incarcerated and working in correctional facilities, and make gloves mandatory for all staff.

The coalition’s letter highlights a June 2020 report by Unlock the Box that details the myriad ways in which underprepared state and federal corrections officials have failed to develop comprehensive plans for containing the spread of COVID-19 inside their facilities. The report shows that in addition to prolonged solitary confinement becoming the default pandemic response in many prison systems across the United States, there has also been a systematic failure to institute basic public health measures that could actually prevent the virus’s spread inside these facilities.

These include targeted and safe depopulation efforts that would reduce overcrowding and make effective social distancing easier and more effective. Many jails and prisons have also failed to provide critical personal protective equipment or enough basic sanitization supplies such as hand sanitizer or soap.

September 8, 2020 - New Resource: How to Negotiate Rent with Your Landlord

New Resource: How to Negotiate Rent With Your Landlord. The eviction ban has been extended through the year, but in January 2021, many Americans will be hit with several months of owed back-pay. To help renters, writers at created a guide with

  • Expert advice negotiating rent reduction 
  • Tips on how to successfully prepare for a conversation with their landlord
  • Additional resources for rent assistance

Please consider sharing this resource with social work clients.

August 19, 2020 - NASW Practice Alert on Home Health: Telehealth During COVID-19 and New Payment System

The Medicare home health benefit, which includes medical social services, has long been essential to beneficiaries living with acute, chronic, and advanced health conditions. Access to home health services is of utmost importance during the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 


A new NASW Practice Alert provides an overview of the Medicare home health benefit, describes NASW’s advocacy on behalf of both home health social workers and beneficiaries served during the COVID-19 pandemic, and clarifies the status of home health social work under the Patient-Driven Groupings Model.

May 21, 2020 - NASW Publishes new Practice Alert - COVID-19 Resources for School Social Workers 

NASW has published a new Practice Alert: “COVID-19 Resources for School Social Workers.” Download it here:” 

May 15, 2020 - Free NASW Webinar to Teach Nursing Home, Caregiver/Social Worker Support during COVID-19 

Earn 1 free Aging & Long-Term Care credit hour by attending a May 26 NASW webinar titled “Supporting and Advocating for Nursing Home Residents, Family Caregivers, and Social Workers during COVID-19.”The event, which runs 2 to 3:15 p.m. EST, will cover strategies and resources to enhance resilience, as well as national advocacy to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on nursing home residents, social work staff, and family caregivers. Nonmembers May attend for $20. Register today at .

May 1, 2020 - NASW Victory! CMS Approves Medicare Reimbursement for Audio-only Device Delivery of Mental Health Services by Social Workers

A strong advocacy campaign led by the National Association of Social Workers and its chapters has resulted in victory with the May 1 announcement by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that it will permit clinical social workers to receive Medicare reimbursement for psychotherapy services provided via audio-only devices such as landlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CMS made the rule adjustment, along with other temporary waivers and changes, to increase access to healthcare and mental health services for the millions of older adults who currently cannot safely receive services in person. The agency had previously enabled greater deployment of telehealth by allowing healthcare providers such as clinical social workers to use smartphones with video chat apps to provide services in addition to pre-pandemic-approved video conferencing platforms.

“This CMS change will directly assist thousands of Medicare beneficiaries in Virginia, especially those living in rural areas or with low incomes who may not have smartphones or reliable internet access,” says NASW Virginia Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “Audio-only capability for delivering mental health services adds another valuable telecommunications tool that clinical social workers can use to better serve diverse populations such as older adults and people living with disabilities.”    

April 20, 2020 - Resources Are Available to Help Hospital-based Social Workers Advocate for Their Own Safety


Healthcare social workers based in hospitals are reporting that their organizations are requiring them to rotate in-person and remote shifts when possible—often without adequate personal protection equipment. Such employees can reference Centers for Disease Control guidelines ( and American Hospital Association resources ( to advocate for flexibility in their settings.


“Mandating that hospital social workers endanger their own lives by meeting in person with clients without appropriate PPEs is not acceptable nor legal,” says NASW Metro DC Executive Director Debra Riggs, CAE. “No one should be forced to choose between their job and potentially their life. Employers should work with their social workers to find other ways to deliver needed services at this challenging time—not hand down new professional practices that are dangerous to everyone involved.”

April 8, 2020 - Research being conducted on animal-human relationships during COVID-19 crisis - please take survey


As we all know, COVID-19 has impacted every area of our lives, even including the relationship we have with our pets. We are hoping you would be willing take a survey (and help us spread the word about these surveys (one for dog owners and one for at owners)) to help us understand more about this impact. The surveys are short (~10 minute) and anonymous. Any questions about the survey can be directed to Lori Kogan ( It is our plan to analyze preliminary data quickly to share results asap to help pet owners and the veterinary community at large.

Survey for dog owners:

Survey for cat owners:

April 7, 2020 - Information about Federal CARES Act, EIDL disaster loans, and Paycheck Protection Program Loans - Of interest to Private Practitioners


See this pdf for a document created by a private practitioner in Texas, which outlines some details of these resources. Please note: This information is accurate to the best of NASWVA's knowledge, but we are not liable for any errors contained therein; please contact your accountant, banker and/or lawyer with questions.

April 3, 2020 - Update from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


Billing for Professional Telehealth Distant Site Services During the Public Health Emergency — Revised


This corrects a prior message that appeared in our March 31, 2020 Special Edition.


Building on prior action to expand reimbursement for telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, CMS will now allow for more than 80 additional services to be furnished via telehealth. When billing professional claims for all telehealth services with dates of services on or after March 1, 2020, and for the duration of the Public Health Emergency (PHE), bill with:

  • Place of Service (POS) equal to what it would have been had the service been furnished in-person
  • Modifier 95, indicating that the service rendered was actually performed via telehealth


As a reminder, CMS is not requiring the CR modifier on telehealth services. However, consistent with current rules for telehealth services, there are two scenarios where modifiers are required on Medicare telehealth professional claims:

  • Furnished as part of a federal telemedicine demonstration project in Alaska and Hawaii using asynchronous (store and forward) technology, use GQ modifier
  • Furnished for diagnosis and treatment of an acute stroke, use G0 modifier


There are no billing changes for institutional claims; critical access hospital method II claims should continue to bill with modifier GT.

Trump Administration Issues Key Recommendations to Nursing Homes, State and Local Governments

On April 3, at the direction of President Trump, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued critical recommendations to state and local governments, as well as nursing homes, to help mitigate the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in nursing homes. The recommendations build on and strengthen recent guidance from CMS and CDC related to effective implementation of longstanding infection control procedures.

Press Release and Guidance

Billing for Multi-Function Ventilators (HCPCS Code E0467) under the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and Otherwise


CMS recognizes that in these important times, in particular, beneficiaries, health care clinicians, suppliers, and manufacturers are looking for the broadest possible access to ventilators for their care needs.  We are taking a number of steps to increase access to and remind suppliers about certain options available to them and beneficiaries regarding multi-function ventilators.

Effective immediately, CMS is suspending claims editing for multi-function ventilators when there are claims for separate devices in history that have not met their reasonable useful lifetime. For more information on multi-function ventilators, see MLN Matters Special Edition Article SE20012.

New ICD-10-CM diagnosis code, U07.1, for COVID-19


In response to the national emergency that was declared concerning the COVID-19 outbreak, a new diagnosis code, U07.1, COVID-19, has been implemented, effective April 1, 2020. As a result, an updated ICD-10 MS-DRG GROUPER software package to accommodate the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code, U07.1, COVID-19, effective with discharges on and after April 1, 2020, is available on the CMS MS-DRG Classifications and Software webpage. This updated GROUPER software package (V37.1 R1) replaces the GROUPER software package V37.1 that was developed in response to the new ICD-10-CM diagnosis code U07.0, Vaping-related disorder, also effective with discharges on and after April 1, 2020, that is currently available on the MS-DRG Classifications and Software webpage. Providers should use this new code, U07.1, where appropriate, for discharges on or after April 1, 2020.  Refer to the updated MLN Matters Articles for additional Medicare Fee-For-Service information:


For detailed information regarding the assignment of new diagnosis code U07.1, COVID-19, under the ICD-10 MS-DRGs, visit the MS-DRG Classifications and Software webpage. The announcement is located under the “Latest News” heading. For additional information related to the new COVID-19 diagnosis code, visit the CDC website.

March 28, 2020 - Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency (CISA) updates guidance on critical infrastructure

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, released updated guidance on critical infrastructure. Social workers are included as part of the critical Healthcare & Public Health sector. For more information:

March 19, 2020 - HIPAA Information

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the US Department of Health and Human Services is relaxing its enforcement of HIPAA regulations governing telehealth during the COVID-19 National Emergency. Please read the notice at this link. Because this is a federal announcement, we are not in a position to answer questions or offer clarification on this issue.

March 17 - CMS Issues Teletherapy Guidance for Clinical Social Workers with Medicare Clients

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance late today allowing telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries--a victory for NASW and other advocates who have been pushing for the move in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Clinical social workers now can provide teletherapy to beneficiaries if a new or existing client is in their home. There will be no audits to determine prior relationship. Telephone/audio-only is not reimbursable; CSWs must use a videoconferencing platform, which should be easier since HIPAA requirements are also eased. For full details, visit Graphic source:

CMS telehealth

March 17, 2020 - Closure of U.S.- and Canada-based Pearson VUE-owned Test Centers

Due to increasing concern for the health and safety of candidates and employees, and in response to government guidance and difficulty procuring the critical hygienic products that keep its test centers safe, Pearson VUE has temporarily closed its U.S.- and Canada-based test centers as of March 17.

Candidates can reschedule their exams for appointments starting April 16 and beyond if conditions allow.

If you already have a scheduled exam:

You will receive an email cancellation notice, and you will either receive a refund (if paid to Pearson VUE) or an extension as determined by your exam sponsor. The company will work with you to reschedule your exam as soon as it is safe to resume test delivery (on or after April 16).

If you are looking to schedule an exam:

Registration windows for new exam appointments will not be available until April 16. If you have additional questions regarding voucher usage or testing windows, please visit your exam program homepage to speak to the customer service team associated with your program.

To monitor the company’s COVID-19 website, visit

March 16, 2020 - Update on NASW Actions on Telehealth and Reimbursement

Possible changes are moving forward quickly to Medicare and coverage for teletherapy, specifically for those who are in their homes. In early March, Congress passed a bill around COVID-19 that includes a telehealth provision.

Its provisions cannot be implemented until the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issues regulatory guidance. According to NASW, the department plans to do this March 19. Several members of Congress have implored the agency to move faster and to ensure that the telehealth provisions are “good” (not just for teletherapy but in general, for numerous types of provider scenarios).

Along with several of its mental health allies, NASW is sending a letter shortly to CMS to urge them to prioritize mental health support and in-home teletherapy in the guidance.

NASW also has been working with the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) to provide information to members about emergency waivers and other aspects related to interstate teletherapy and loosening related state licensing rules due to the pandemic. That information will go on the NASW COVID-19 website, as will updates on this topic.

Lastly, NASW will provide updates on the issue of telehealth parity on its national COVID-19 website.

As for the social justice implications of the virus, NASW is working on a likely public statement and deciding on other actions to ensure economic relief and other supports. all in the loop on this important dimension of the crisis and our nation’s response to it.

This national emergency and leaders’ responses to it are an example of how important it is to have social workers in these key government leadership positions! 

March 14, 2020 - Medicare & Medicaid FAQs

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued Frequently Asked Questions to Ensure Individuals, Issuers and States have Clear Information on Coverage Benefits for COVID-19.  This action is part of the broader, ongoing effort by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to ensure that all Americans – particularly those at high-risk of complications from the COVID-19 virus – have access to the health benefits that can help keep them healthy while helping to contain the spread of this disease.

The COVID-19 FAQs for EHB can be found here:

These FAQs, and earlier CMS actions in response to the COVID-19 virus, are part of the ongoing White House Task Force efforts. To keep up with the important work the Task Force is doing in response to COVID-19 click here For information specific to CMS, please visit the Current Emergencies Website.