COVID-19 Update
September 2, 2021
Informed Consent for Vaccine Booster
In anticipation of the roll out for vaccine boosters, we have been in contact with the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) regarding whether the emergency consents obtained for initial vaccination will remain in effect when it comes time for boosters. OPWDD has been discussing this matter with DOH and we have been informed that booster vaccine dosages will likely require a new consent. We will continue to monitor this issue and provide additional updates as they become available. 
Article 28 Clinics Included in Vaccine Mandate
An emergency regulation was issued, effective August 26, 2021, clarifying which entities are covered by the State’s vaccine mandate for certain healthcare workers. Notably, it specifies that diagnostic and treatment centers licensed under Article 28 are part of the mandate. The regulation also outlines which staff must be vaccinated by October 7 (Sept. 27 for hospitals and nursing homes), as well as exemptions to the mandate, and certain reporting requirements.  
Gov. Hochul Proposes Vaccine Mandate for Teachers and State-regulated Facilities
On Tuesday, Governor Kathy Hochul called on state officials to impose a mask mandate in all public and private schools in New York. She also signaled a desire to implement “vaccine-or-test” mandates for teachers. Additionally, the governor outlined her approach to combating COVID-19, including an announcement that the state will explore expanding vaccine mandates to all state-regulated facilities and congregate care facilities, without an option for staff to “test out.” The announcement follows a national trend of states initiating similar policies. At the moment, little is known about the scope of the mandate or whether it will affect The Arc New York Chapters and programs.

We recognize the potential impact such a mandate would have on our already strained workforce, and we are in communication with all levels of government to ensure that supports and services are not interrupted by rushed policies. OPWDD Executive Deputy Commissioner Roger Bearden joined our weekly call with Chapter leadership to discuss the potential implications of a vaccine mandate and strategies for addressing potential concerns. As always, we will update you as additional details become available.
Updated COVID-19 Reporting and Entry into IRMA
Effective September 3, 3021, OPWDD's Incident Report and Management Application (IRMA) will have additional fields regarding vaccination status that must be completed when reporting COVID-19 positive cases. This requirement will apply when there is a presumed positive or positive test for an individual or staff in a certified residential site, which includes all ICFs, IRAs, Community Residences, Developmental Centers, Residential Schools, Specialty Hospitals and Family Care Homes. For more information please refer to this notice from OPWDD and this PowerPoint from the August 30 IRMA Training.
Mask Mandate in ICFs
There has been understandable confusion on the topic of mask mandates in ICFs, regardless of vaccination status.

While OPWDD’s July 2 Post State of Emergency COVID-19 Guidance for OPWDD Certified, Operated, and/or Funded Facilities and Programs indicates that fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks or maintain social distance in most places within New York state, including within OPWDD certified, operated and/or funded facilities and programs, we have been advised by OPWDD that the Department of Health (DOH) has interpreted the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements for ICFs differently. Although there does not appear to be any additional written guidance, we have been advised that the expectation is that masks must be worn in ICF settings, regardless of a person's vaccination status.

OPWDD is aware of this inconsistency in their guidance, and has made revisions, which are currently pending approval and publication.

This and all related updates will be cataloged on The Arc New York COVID-19 Resource Page for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.
CONTACT: Kate Geurin, Director for Communications and Public Relations
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