COVID-19 Update
April 26, 2020

OPWDD Trainings
The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) is offering a training on the "Revised Staff Guidance for the Management of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Facilities or Programs Operated and/or Certified by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities."  The training provides a high-level overview of the guidance document and is most useful to those who have not reviewed the document previously. Information on accessing the training can be found  here .
Additionally, OPWDD released a training on "COVID-19 Prevention and Response in OPWDD Facilities." The training touches on contact tracing, isolation and quarantine, return to work protocols and infection prevention and control. Chapters can register for the training in the Statewide Learning Management System (SLMS). New users can create an account here. Existing users can enroll here.
Interim Guidance Regarding Day Habilitation & Prevocational Services
OPWDD published interim guidance regarding Day Habilitation Services and Prevocational Services. The guidance addresses the temporary allowance for delivering the service via telehealth, temporary modifications to allow service delivery in alternate locations, allowance to bill for additional services in support of the person, and update of Staff Action Plans. 
Interim Billing Guidance for Day Services - Extended through April 15
OPWDD published an updated " Billing Guidance for Day Services" document. This is an update to their guidance document from March 24, which covered claims for service through March 30, 2020. The update extends the original guidance to cover claims for service dates through April 15, 2020. Revisions include a definition of retainer payments, reinforcement of the existing daily billing limits, and additional language encouraging the rehiring of staff to provide essential services.

Direct Support Professionals Eligible for Diagnostic Testing 
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York now has sufficient capacity to extend COVID-19 diagnostic testing eligibility to an array of non-symptomatic essential workers, including Direct Support Professionals (DSP).  Executive Order 202.24 authorizes licensed  pharmacists to order and administer COVID-19 tests, upon completing appropriate training from the Department of Health. This action will significantly expand testing locations across the state. More information and guidance on testing can be found here

CDC Adds Six New COVID-19 Symptoms
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added six new symptoms of COVID-19. In regards to staff health checks, page 2 of the revised OPWDD "  Staffing Guidance for Management of COVID-19" includes a  link to the CDC website listing the new symptomsThe new symptoms included in the screening are repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. Data should be collected on these symptoms as part of the written log.

FY 2021 Enacted State Budget Financial Plan 
New York State Division of Budget (DOB) announced the release of a FY 2021 Enacted State Budget Financial Plan. The financial plan projects a $13.3 billion budget shortfall from the Executive Budget Forecast released in January, representing a 14% decrease in expected revenue. It also anticipates a cumulative $61B shortfall through FY 2024.

Budget control actions to address this revenue shortfall include a 10% reduction in agency funding and an $8.2B reduction for "health care, K-12 schools, and higher education, as well as support for local governments, public transit, and the state's not-for-profit partners who deliver critical services to the most vulnerable New Yorkers." 
A preliminary assessment of the economic impact of the pandemic developed by Boston Consulting Group was released with the financial plan. According to the assessment:
  • The financial impact of this crisis is greater than that of 9/11 or the 2008 Great Recession. 
  • The state may recover to a pre-COVID level by the first quarter of 2023.
  • There has been a 2,104% increase in unemployment claims over the same period in 2019. 
Latest Executive Orders
Since April 24, there have been three new executive orders, 202.22, 202.23, and 202.24Some highlights of those orders are as follows: 
  • Tax assessment rolls are delayed
  • All voters are required to receive an absentee ballot application (Voters will need to fill out the application and send it back in the prepaid envelope in order to be eligible to vote via absentee ballot.)
  • Special elections scheduled for June 23 are cancelled
  • DOH is authorized to revoke or suspend the operating certificate of any skilled nursing or adult care facility licensed by DOH for failure to adhere to regulations or directives of the Commissioner of Health 
  • Licensed pharmacists are allowed to order and administer COVID tests
Governor Cuomo's Weekend Briefings Summarized 
Governor Cuomo continued to hold his daily press briefings this weekend. Sunday marked Day 57 of this epidemic for New York state. As of Saturday, we are now back to the same level of new cases we had back on March 31 (1,000 new/day).
At the federal level, some states have submitted reopening plans. However, those states have many fewer cases than New York. Federal guidelines do not recommend reopening unless a state has a full two weeks of either flat or declining hospitalizations. We have not reached that point. The Governor also announced that a decision would be made this week regarding any continued school closures.  
For the first time the Governor added more detail to the  regional reopening plan, as follows, with the intention to leave two weeks between phases to monitor impact:
Phase I - Reopen low-risk construction and manufacturing 
Phase II - Reopen additional businesses based on priority and risk level

Business are expected to conduct their own analysis of need and precautionary measures. It is likely these evaluations to include the following elements: 
  • cleaning and hygiene
  • frequency of use
  • personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • capacity requirements (use of space)
  • access & screening
  • travel and transportation
  • training
  • communication
No regions may open businesses that would result in an increase in the number of visitors to that region from outside the area. Although no start date has been set for Phase I, Governor Cuomo indicated in his Sunday briefing that New York will remain on PAUSE through May 15. After that date, regional reopening may be under consideration. 

OHIP GIS Regarding Enhanced Unemployment and Recovery Stimulus Payments
The Office of Health Insurance Programs issued  General Information System 20 MA/05 titled Impact of the CARES Act on Medicaid and Financial Eligibility, dated 4/20/2020 and effective immediately. This GIS formalizes what we already knew about economic stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment not being countable for Medicaid eligibility purposes. 

Federal Legislative Update and Action Alert
Congress passed new emergency COVID-19 relief legislation that replenishes funding for federal loan programs for small businesses and provides additional funding for hospitals and federal agencies. However, the bipartisan deal falls short of meeting the urgent needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and those who serve and support them.

In the next COVID-19 response package, it is crucial that Congress creates grants for states to expand home and community-based services (HCBS) to help keep people with I/DD in their homes and communities. By investing in HCBS, we can also pay the workforce that supports people with I/DD. 

A brief from The Community Living Policy Center on the proposed Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act (H.R. 6305, S. 3544) can be found here. Feel free to share this with legislators.

In support of this legislation, The Arc of the United States is using a new style of action alert, which helps people share personal stories and send a tailored message to Congress. Follow the step-by-step  instructions here

Grant Funding Opportunity.
The  Mother Cabrini Health Foundation  is dedicating $50 million to provide funding for nonprofit organizations that are addressing the health and social needs of New Yorkers as a direct result of COVID-19.  Through its Coronavirus Emergency Support Grants initiative, the foundation will distribute the $50 million across New York State to community-based emergency response funds, healthcare providers, Catholic Charities affiliates serving all faiths, and other organizations. Grants are intended to address the health and economic impacts of those most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizations may submit proposals for projects related to the COVID-19 pandemic through the online grants portal through June 3. 

Additional Funding for Paycheck Protection Program & EIDL 
The federal government put additional funds in to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Unfortunately, the affiliation rules still apply. Our Chapters will not be eligible for this funding. 

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