COVID-19 Update
February 17, 2021

National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine
In support of the Biden Administration's COVID-19 initiatives, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is holding the first National Forum on COVID-19 Vaccine Monday February 22 through Wednesday February 24. The Forum will facilitate information exchange on the most effective strategies to:
  • build trust and confidence in COVID-19 vaccines
  • use data to drive vaccine implementation, and 
  • provide practical information for optimizing and maximizing equitable vaccine access.
Each day of the forum will feature panel and town hall sessions. The town hall sessions may be of most interest, as they afford an opportunity to raise questions and share comments with leaders in federal government and healthcare. The federal partners are seeking champions who are promoting the uptake of vaccine to attend the town halls and exchange ideas. A full agenda can be found here, and you can register here. Recorded sessions will be available after the forum. 
CDC and DOE School Operation Strategies
The CDC published operational strategies for K-12 schools. The strategies address health and educational equity for children with disabilities. Coinciding with this, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), published an "ED COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools, Washington, DC, 2021." All Chapters with educational programs should review the documents closely as future operational decisions are made.

Revised Staff Return to Work Notification & Attestation Checklist
As discussed during our weekly call with Chapters, we received notice that the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) recently returned several staffing mitigation attestation forms. This form is submitted by the Chapter Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer when the Chapter intends to return close-contact employees to work prior to the completion of the 10-day quarantine period. We detailed the form and protocols in our January 26 COVID-19 Update
We reached out to OPWDD to share our concerns about the forms being returned due to Chapters not selecting "yes" for each of the six mitigation strategies. Of particular concern was number six on the form, as there may not always be social factors that are causing a provider to have a staffing shortage. Thus, a response of "no" would be reasonable. OPWDD agreed to review the form and make adjustments in consideration of our feedback and recommendations. 
The revised form now includes the language, "where/if appropriate" for each condition. OPWDD expects that providers will review and consider the need for each mitigation strategy, in which case, a response of "yes" would be warranted for all strategies. 
If a form you submitted has been returned, please complete the revised form and resubmit to OPWDD indicating that each mitigation strategy has been reviewed and considered. 
On Tuesday, February 16, OPWDD shared data regarding the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and deaths due to COVID-19 within the service system. 
As of February 10, 2021:
  • 9,267 people supported have been confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • 6,698 of these people reside in a certified residential facility. 
  • There have been 618 deaths relating to COVID-19.
  • 12,414 staff have been confirmed to have COVID-19.
OPWDD has not yet supplied more detailed data regarding COVID-19 cases by setting. As a reminder, New York state maintains data on cases by county here.

HIP HOP Public Health Community Immunity Resources
HIP HOP Public Health has developed a series of free 60-second music videos to increase vaccine literacy. These "Community Immunity" resources can be found here. This is an excellent, innovative resource for informing employees and other stakeholders on the benefits of vaccination. We encourage all Chapters to include this as a tool in their vaccination education materials.
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, Director for Quality, Compliance & Chapter Relations

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