COVID-19 Update
May 1, 2020

"The Arc New York: The Future" Webinar Now Available
On Thursday April 30, The Arc New York and the Executive Directors Association hosted a webinar discussing what the field and the organization might look like once the COVID crisis resolves. A panel of Executive Directors and others discussed various topics, including service provision, human resources, managed care, and COVID considerations in depth. A recording of the full webinar can be viewed here and the slide deck is available here.

OPWDD New Reporting and IRMA Requirements
The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities conducted a training on "COVID-19 Phone Reporting and Entry into the Incident Report and Management Application (IRMA)." The training PowerPoint is available here. Additionally, OPWDD published an update to their "COVID-19 Notification & IRMA Requirements for OPWDD Providers."  The updated notification requirements solidify many of the unwritten practices that were in place, provide clarification to the process and consolidate guidance from other documents.
COVID-19 Testing Available for Essential Workers
The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) announced that Essential Workers in New York state can make an appointment to be tested at one of several drive through or walk in testing sites. Contact information and details can be found here.

Schools Closed for the Academic Year
During today's press briefing, Governor Cuomo announced that all New York state schools and colleges will be closed for the remainder of the academic year. While an Executive Order has not yet been issued memorializing this announcement, EO 202.26 was issued to address aspects of State Education and election laws in consideration of the closures. 

DOB Fiscal Year 2020 Spending Controls 
The New York State Division of Budget (DOB) released a   bulletin  this week outlining spending controls being implemented to close the anticipated $10 to $15 billion revenue shortfall for Fiscal Year 2020, effective immediately. These controls include strict enforcement of the existing hiring freeze, elimination of all non-essential, non-personal service spending, a hold on local discretionary aid grants, and a suspension of new capital projects. There are exceptions regarding actions required for pandemic response, to sustain services, or address immediate health and safety needs. 
NYDA Summary Report
On Wednesday, New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) released a summary report of statewide COVID-19 Impact data. The summary was drawn from survey reporting by voluntary-operated providers, including weekly data submitted by The Arc New York Chapters. A small workgroup, which includes members of The Arc New York State Office staff, reviews the data, and assists with development of the weekly summary report and advocacy messaging. It is critically important that The Arc New York Chapters continue to respond to our weekly surveys, so that we have consistent and valid data to use as we continue to advocate on a statewide level.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Options 
During the State Office call with Executive Directors this morning, there was a discussion about deep cleaning options. Rockland reported success in using Erlich to handle disinfection services in their homes after they clear. Erlich uses fogging devices to disinfect the homes. Rockland negotiated a single contract with them on a square-foot basis. A brochure for the service can be viewed here. Chapters that have purchased their own fogging machines are encouraged to share this information with the State Office, so that others may borrow or lease such equipment. 

Self-Insured Unemployment Insurance Directive from US Dept. of Labor 
If you self-insure for unemployment insurance, there is troubling new guidance from the Labor Department that will impose large costs on your organization. Below is a brief summary from the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits about two specific provisions:
  1. Self-insured nonprofits must pay for their claims and then seek partial refunds. States must require self-insured nonprofits to reimburse their UI trust funds for the full amount of COVID-19 related UI claims and then seek reimbursement from their state UI trust funds of 50% their reimbursement, rather than simply paying the 50% reduction up front.
  2. States may be penalized if they are too generous in holding harmless self-insured nonprofits. Based on the examples provided at the end of the guidance, it appears that states can cover some or all of the remaining 50% of self-insured nonprofits' costs for COVID-19 related claims from their UI trust funds. However, the guidance warns that states that cover more than 50% of self-insured nonprofits' claims from their UI trust funds will not receive full federal support under Section 2103 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. State legislators and Governors that seek to hold nonprofits' harmless will need to be careful in how they word their legislation or executive orders to ensure that they are not inadvertently forfeiting a portion of their federal funding.
DOL appears to have developed this approach because Section 2103 of the CARES Act requires funds to be used to "reimburse" self-insured nonprofits. If you self insure, please share your information with The Arc of the US here. They will be tracking cases across the country to help formulate a response for modifications to the current law. We believe it was not the original intent of the law to be promulgated in this way. 

The following three resources provide more information on this issue: the guidance , an analysis by the National Council of Nonprofits, and a blog posting by a nonprofit unemployment insurance expert, demonstrating nonprofits urgently need corrections to CARES Act Section 2103.

CIDRAP Report on the Future of COVID-19
The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) published a  report on the future of COVID-19. CIDRAP is part of the Academic Health Center of the University of Minnesota. The report was developed by their team of medical professionals, and touches on the possible future of the COVID-19 pandemic based on comparative models. It is an interesting read in light of our recent webinar discussing the future.  The report includes three possible scenarios covering the next 18-24 months.

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

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