COVID-19 Update
March 15, 2020

As the public health issue of COVID-19 continues to require local and state organizations to quickly adjust policies, procedures and business operations, we remain committed to providing The Arc New York Chapters with up-to-date and accurate information. We are conducting weekly conference calls with Chapter Executive Directors, and calls three times a week with both the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) senior leadership and the Care Coordination Organizations (CCOs). Regular updates and resources will be posted on The Arc New York website. 
This COVID-19 update contains several important topic and materials. Please review and distribute to all necessary parties at your Chapters. As always, The Arc New York State Office remains available to field your questions and present your comments and concerns to OPWDD and other state oversight agencies.
Thank you for your continued support of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, the dedicated workforce and your communities during this challenging time.
The Arc New York Involvement in Appendix K Waiver
The President's declaration of a national emergency on Friday paved the way for OPWDD to begin work on a proposal that will be submitted to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). The "Appendix K" waiver will include requests for waiver of necessary program standards to support service delivery during this emergency, as well as continued funding. We will share more information on this effort as it becomes available.
ICF/IDD OPWDD Directives
On March 14, OPWDD published the health advisory "COVID-19 Cases in Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IDD)."  The health advisory includes the following:
  • immediate suspension of all visitation except when medically necessary,
  • protocols for health checks for all Health Care Professionals (HCPs) and other facility staff at the beginning of each shift,
  • a requirement that all HCPs and other facility staff wear a facemask while within 6 feet of residents,
  • procedures for addressing both confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 in the ICF/IDD, and
  • expectations regarding resident access to the community.
Chapters operating ICFs must read this guidance closely, distribute to all applicable staff, and implement the requirements immediately.
CCO Face to Face Visit Information
In response to the COVID-19 situation, several Care Coordination Organizations (CCOs) made temporary operational changes directing their Care Managers to conduct all business remotely. As a result, the face-to-face requirements for CCOs could no longer be met. On March 14, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) published "COVID-19 Guidelines for Health Homes." This guidance directs the following:
  • temporary waiver of face-to-face requirements for Health Home providers, including CCOs;
  • screening protocols to be implemented by Care Managers, should a face-to-face visit be clinically necessary; and
  • screening protocols to be implemented by CCOs on Care Managers prior to any face-to-face visits.
NYSDOH Interim Guidance for Large Gatherings and Public Spaces
On March 13, the NYSDOH published "Interim Guidance for Large Gatherings and Public Spaces During the COVID-19 Outbreak."  This interim guidance directs the following:
  • effective March 13 at 5 p.m., any gathering with more than 500 participants be cancelled or postponed;
  • effective March 13 at 5 p.m., private and public operators of establishments or organizer of events with fewer than 500 occupants or attendees must operate at no more than 50% of their maximum occupancy. This includes concert venues, theaters, museums, department stores and religious institutions. The goal of maintaining a level at or below 50% of legal capacity is to ensure maximum social distancing.
    • Businesses that are not gathering places can seek an exemption from the State Commissioner of Health by contacting the New York State COVID-19 hotline.
Non-Public School Closures
On March 12, the Governor issued Executive Order 202.1, which continued the suspension and modification of laws relating to the disaster emergency (COVID-19). While the EO contained language suspending some provisions of education law, it only applies to K-12 programs and not preschools.
Non-public schools (including 4410 preschools and our private 853 school-age programs) that need to close in response to COVID-19 must complete the "Report of School Closure" form and submit it to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) via their online portal. Information about this process can be found here.
4410 preschools and private 853 school-age programs will continue to receive funding based upon program enrollment (not daily attendance). NYSED is currently reviewing the implications on future rates due to reconciliation.
More information and resources on New York State schools and COVID-19 can be found here.

Supply Chain Support
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning and disinfection products are all critical supplies used to prevent the spread of communicable diseases such as COVID-19. There is an increased volume of orders of these supplies and challenges in meeting order demands.
Chapters that are having trouble in procuring these supplies should contact their local County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to request assistance.
The contact information for County OEMs and corresponding Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services (DHES) region can be found here.
New York City Requests for Supply Support
New York City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will likely receive a significant volume of requests given the number of healthcare providers present in New York City. The New York City Chapter should complete the NYC Resource Request form and email it to when seeking supply support.
Additional information on PPE can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

N95 Respirators
N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) are PPE used to protect the wearer from airborne particle s and from liquid contaminating the face. The use of the respirators is regulated by the CDC, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Like other forms of PPE, there is currently a high volume of orders and challenges in meeting order demands. The CDC has published strategies for optimizing the supply of N95 respirators.  

In response to the COVID-19 situation, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) that allows for the use of select models of N95 respirators that have exceeded their manufacture-designated shelf life, as well as non-powered air-purifying particulate FFRs.
A list of authorized N95 respirators that have exceed their manufacture-designated shelf life can be found here
Additional recommendations regarding the use of N95 respirators that have exceeded their manufacture-designed shelf life can be found here.
CHSE Innovation Trainings Canceled & Extensions Granted
In accordance with Supported Employment (SEMP) ADM 2016-01, SEMP staff, supervisors and directors must participate in OPWDD's Innovations in Employment Supports Trainings, conducted by The Center for Human Services Education (CHSE). There are requirements for initial training and annual continuing education requirements. 

In response to the COVID-19 concerns, CHSE has canceled all trainings scheduled for March and April. OPWDD has advised that anyone who was planning to attend a March or April training (via enrollment in a canceled course date) to meet the training requirements will receive an approval of an extension on their due date. No provider will have billing jeopardized if staff is unable to meet the training requirements due to cancelled classes. When cancellation notices are sent, the registrant will be notified about their ability to request an extension. Requests for a time extension should be submitted to Julia Kelly at OPWDD.

Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.

Josh Christiana , Associate Executive Director for Quality, Compliance & Chapter Relations

This email was sent to:
  • President Jack Kowalczyk 
  • Board of Governors 
  • Chapter Presidents
  • Executive Directors 
  • Chief Operating Officers 
  • HR Directors 
  • PR Directors 
  • Quality & Compliance Staff 
  • Joint Committee on Quality & Compliance 
  • State Office Staff