COVID-19 Update
April 13, 2020

REGISTER for The Arc New York's Downstate Chapter COVID Discussion  
At the request of the Executive Directors Association (EDA), we will be holding a webinar tomorrow, Tuesday April 14, from 1 - 2:30 p.m., to give the five downstate Chapters an opportunity to share their experiences, challenges and best practices in responding to COVID-19. Panelists include:
  • Carmine Marchionda, ED Rockland
  • Tibi Gusman, ED Westchester
  • Marco Damiani, ED NYC
  • Stanfort Perry, ED Nassau
  • Paul Torres, ED Suffolk
As this virus spreads upstate and westward, the experience of our downstate Chapters offers valuable lessons that can be beneficial to all Chapters. We hope you will join us. Please register here. After  registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar .
Media Coverage 
Coverage of the impact of COVID-19 on our field, our staff, and the people we support continues, including a moving  story from the Queens Daily Eagle on loss and dedication at AHRC NYC, and a WBNG interview with ACHIEVE NY on how they are working to support the people they serve through the COVID-19 crisis. 

Waiver Supports During School Closing During Crisis
During today's call between the Provider Association and the Office for Pe ople With Developmental Disabilities  (OPWDD), clarification  was provided on the allowance to deliver and bill for Community Habilitation or Respite services to children during typical school hours under the current COVID-19 crisis. OPWDD indicated that their policy is these services can be delivered to  individuals for whom the service has been authorized, within authorization levels, during what would be considered the school day.

DQI Vulnerability Assessment
OPWDD's Division of Quality Improvement reached out to Chapters to conduct an "Agency Vulnerability Assessment." DQI was seeking information on the medical and behavioral condition of individuals supported in residential sites.  The requests included response times of a few hours.  As with prior inquiries by DQI to the Chapters, we reached out to OPWDD to express our concern about the intent and manner of collecting information during the COVID-19 public health crisis.  If you receive this request, please do not provide the information . You can advise DQI that we have received clarification  from OPWDD's Central Office that they will gather information based on their own records. If you receive any requests from this point forward, please let us know.

OPWDD Guidance Regarding Background Checks
OPWDD published " Interim Guidance Regarding Modified Background Check Requirements for Existing and New Staff Members."  The guidance addresses staff members employed by an OPWDD provider, as well as those employed by another State Oversight Agency. As part of the process for these parties, Chapters must submit a new  Justice Center EO 202.13 Criminal Background Check Request Form
to OPWDD. Notably, the Statewide Central Registry (SCR) check is temporarily waived for these parties, providing some relief in a process that has often had lengthy delays.  Additionally, the guidance offers some relief in the hiring of new staff members with no employment at an approved provider. All standard background checks need to be requested. However, the applicant may be hired upon clearance on the Staff Exclusion List (SEL), and may work unsupervised once the Criminal Background Check (CBC) is completed, even while the SCR and MHL16.34 checks are pending.  Chapters should closely review the guidance and provide to all parties responsible for the background check process.

EO 202.16
Yesterday,  Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.16 Of note is the last directive in the order, pertaining to essential businesses or entities and face coverings. Our initial reading of the order is that this does not require the wearing of face coverings within all provider programs at all times. The directive appears to be for workplaces involving contact with customers or the public. Chapters should continue to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as described in guidance from OPWDD, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

New York State Health Foundation Grant Opportunities
The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) has committed  $2 million in funding  to support COVID-19 response and relief efforts throughout New York state. Grants will include contributions to numerous regional response funds, as well as support for statewide and local efforts to address emerging health care and public health needs in the wake of  the  pandemic. Learn more about specific grant opportunities and eligibility here

Essential Business & Enforcement of Compliance With Executive Orders
Several Chapters have received communications from the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and Attorney General's Office inquiring about compliance with the Governor's various executive orders. Some questions you may receive include: 
  • Are you on the list of essential employers
  • If you are not on the list, are you still operating?
  • If you are essential and operating, have you completed a Request for Designation as an Essential Business through Empire State Development?
  • Has there been a determination on that request? If not, what are your reasons for why you believe you are essential?
  • If you are lawfully operating as an essential business, have you provided for health and safety mandates in the Governor's Executive Orders?
  • Are you providing for telecommuting to the maximum extent possible?
  • Are you cleaning and disinfecting according to DOH Guidelines?
  • Are you taking particular precautions to prioritize the health and safety of vulnerable employees - i.e. those 70 years of age or older, and those with underlying health conditions?
We recommend you review these questions and be prepared with responses if necessary. 

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