COVID-19 Update
October 6, 2020

New York State COVID-19 Cluster Action Initiative
Last week, the state identified 20 hotspot zip codes where the average rate of positive tests was 6.5 percent. A listing of the hot spots can be found here.
Brooklyn, Queens, Broome, Orange and Rockland Counties all have identified hotspots and these hotspots will be subject to a newly announced COVID-19 "cluster action initiative."

The initiative is composed of three steps, beginning with a focus on the cluster itself and then addressing surrounding areas. Some of the actions that will be taken include reducing size of gatherings, closure of schools, only allowing essential businesses to operate, and limitations on indoor and outdoor dining. 

The enforcement of this initiative takes effect today, and fines for violations of the rules is up to $15,000. Additional details and a recording of the Governor's announcement can be found here

Chapters are encouraged to closely monitor their COVID-19 data, county data, and the Governor's future announcements. Several Chapters have already initiated changes to day programming, visitation and community outings in response to the increase in cases. 

OPWDD Hot Spot Resource Materials and Tools
OPWDD has developed resource materials and tools to support providers who are operating programs within the identified hot spots. These materials have only been sent to providers within the identified hot spots, but may be of use to everyone. They are designed for use with certified residential programs but may be modified and used in other locations. These include:
Direct Support Professionals as Essential Workers
During our weekly call with Executive Directors, we heard that there have been challenges with local health departments recognizing our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) as essential workers. On March 18, 2020, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities published a memo  in collaboration with the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) that reinforced DSPs' classification as essential health care workers. Essential health care workers may return to and/or continue to work under the conditions set forth in the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) "Health Advisory: Revised Protocols for Personnel in Healthcare and Other Direct Care Settings to Return to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure or Infection" guidance from July 24. 

Chapters who encounter these challenges should refer to OPWDD's memo when discussing DSP work status with the local health departments. Additionally, we provided a template letter developed by ANCOR that can be supplied to DSPs when they need to identify themselves as essential workers. This document was detailed in our March 22 COVID-19 Update. Please let us know if you encounter obstacles, so we may raise this issue with OPWDD as necessary.

NYS Travel Advisory Update
On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo announced that New Mexico has been added to the designated states on the New York State Travel Advisory. No states were removed. A current listing of the states on the Travel Advisory can be found here.

HRSA Webinar and HHS Instructions for Phase 3 PRF Distribution
As shared in the October 2 COVID-19 Update, applications for Provider Relief Fund (PRF) Phase 3 distributions are now open. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shared application instructions, so you know what will be required in advance of completing your application in the portal. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is also hosting an Informational Webinar on Thursday, October 15 at 3 p.m. to review the application process. You can register for the webinar here.

If you did not apply for Phase 2 funding, you will need to create an Optum ID in the portal. Once you create the Optum ID, you will need to answer some organizational questions to validate your Tax ID (TIN). It may take a couple of days for your TIN to be validated. You cannot start the actual Revenue and Expense application until you get the notification that your TIN has been validated. If you already applied for Phase 2 funding, you can log into the portal with the same Optum ID you created in Phase 2. According to HHS, you will not be able to start the Revenue and Expense application until you have received notification that a determination was made on your Phase 2 application. If you applied for Phase 2 funding and have not yet received an email from HHS or HRSA with your determination, you can call the Provider Relief Hotline at 866-569-3522 for a status update.

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.

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
  • Chief Financial Officers  
  • HR Directors 
  • PR Directors 
  • Quality & Compliance Staff 
  • Joint Committee on Quality & Compliance 
  • Guardianship Coordinators 
  • State Office Staff