COVID-19 Update
April 2, 2020

Health Advisory: Return to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure or Infection
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) published updated protocols for allowing employees to return to work following COVID-19 exposure or infection. This is an update to the guidance issued on March 28, 2020. We have highlighted the changes for your reference. Most of the updates are clarifications to language in the previous protocols. The most notable change is number six on page two. NYSDOH has included an option to return an employee with "unique or irreplaceable skills critical to patient care" prior to seven days elapsing. Chapters must confer with the NYSDOH if this need arises. 

Telehealth FAQ
NYSDOH also published an update to their FAQ regarding the use of Telehealth during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

NYDA Letter to the Governor and Daily News Story 
The Arc New York has been working with New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) and other NYDA member agencies further governmental and public advocacy for our field at this critical time. NYDA submitted a letter to the Governor calling for enhanced rates and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for our front-line staff. We also collaborated to secure media coverage bringing the impact of COVID-19 on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and the providers who support them into the public dialogue, including this story in the New York Daily News

Barclay Damon Webinar  
COVID-19 Resources and Guidance Compendium
The Arc New York and the New York Alliance for Innovation and Inclusion collaborated with the Managed Care Community of Practice (MCCOP) on the development of a COVID-19 resource and guidance compendium. MCCOP maintains a webpage that links to key federal and state agencies' resource and guidance materials related to COVID-19. The page can be found here, and can also be accessed from The Arc New York COVID-19 Resource Page

Chapter Employee Benefit Summary
During yesterday's call with Executive Directors, Chapters requested a template document to provide staff an overview of the new resources and benefits available. The summary document includes, for example, relief relative to student aid, insurance payments, eviction and foreclosure proceedings, unemployment benefits, tax deadlines, and economic stimulus payments. Please feel free to edit this and distribute to your staff as you see fit.
Updated Guidance on Unemployment & Sick Leave
New York Sick Leave
As previously reported, employees are entitled to two weeks paid sick leave if they fall under an order of quarantine from a state or local official. Since the law was enacted in mid-March, New York state has issued additional guidance, as Local Health Departments (LHD) are overwhelmed with requests for official quarantine orders. This fact sheet outlines circumstances in which documentation from an employee's licensed medical provider may substitute temporarily for an order from the LDH.   
Some Chapters have noted the apparent inconsistency between OPWDD's recent return to work guidance and the requirement to provide two weeks of sick leave for employees with official quarantine orders. Please see the following notes regarding this: 
  • If an employee has an actual quarantine order, the terms of that order control and the worker cannot end the quarantine order even if they want to, and even if they are an essential worker.
  • If there is no quarantine order, then the worker can come back in accordance with the OPWDD guidance. 
FFCRA (Federal COVID Sick Leave)
We previously advised that our Chapters are exempt from applicability of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) because of our role as "health care providers." Proposed regulations have since been issued, and they confirm a very broad definition that includes "any individual who is capable of providing health care services necessary to combat the COVID-19 public health care emergency.  Such individuals include not only medical professionals, but also other workers who are needed to keep hospitals and similar health care facilities well supplied and operational." 

Unemployment to Care for Child Out of School Due to COVID-19
The federal program broadened availability of unemployment benefits, including benefits for employees who quit to care for a child out who is out of school due to COVID-19 closures. If the child is 14 or older, the employee may not qualify, or may need to provide additional justification for their need to be home. 

We have received a number of questions regarding the applicability of various components of the  Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including:
  • reimbursement of unemployment benefit costs
  • delay of payroll tax remittance
  • employee retention Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security credit
  • paycheck protection program (employers w/500 or fewer employees)
  • economic injury disaster loans (employers w/500 or fewer employees)
Please be advised that we will be issuing comprehensive guidance specific to our Chapters regarding the applicability of these programs next week, during our April 8 call with Executive Directors. 

Wage and Hours Guidance
Chapters have inquired what the wage and hour rules would be if they decided or needed to have certain staff work two-week shifts in a particular home. Information relative to the rules you need to consider can be found here

2020 Census 
Despite the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 has brought about for our nation and our field, the 2020 Census is still underway, and your participation may be more critical than ever. Census data is used to allocate federal funding and determine congressional representation. Census field operations have been suspended until April 15, however individuals can respond online to be counted. These resources on the importance of participation in the 2020 census from The Arc US and The Census Bureau may be beneficial to share with your staff and communities. 

Talking to People With I/DD About COVID-19
Open Future Learning shared valuable suggestions about talking to people with I/DD about fears, challenges and changes they may be facing due to the ongoing public health emergency. You can read more here and share with program staff at your discretion.

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