COVID-19 Update
January 8, 2020

The Arc New York Advocates for Vaccine Priority for I/DD Population
Nearly 100,000 New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) supported and served in community-based settings have yet to be placed within a priority vaccination group. In response, The Arc New York, New York Disability Advocates (NYDA), and over a dozen coordinated care organizations (CCO) and trade associations sent a letter to Governor Cuomo advocating for all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to be formally prioritized in Phase 1 of New York's COVID-19 vaccination plan. 

President Jack Kowalczyk submitted an Op-ed to media outlets throughout the state calling for vaccine prioritization for all New Yorkers with I/DD. 

The Arc New York also launched a statewide grassroots writing campaign to all state and federal representatives, requesting the same vaccination priority for all people with I/DD. 

To add your voice to this important initiative, follow this link and provide your information. A letter expressing your support will be sent directly to your representative's email. 

On Thursday, January 7, The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) shared data regarding the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, and deaths due to COVID-19 within the service system. 

As of January 6, 2021:
  • 6,937 people supported have been confirmed to have COVID-19.
  • 5,266 of these people reside in a certified residential facility. 
  • There have been 538 deaths relating to COVID-19.
  • 9,300 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.
Incentive PTO for Vaccinated Employees 
During the Executive Director call on Wednesday, we discussed strategies for educating and encouraging eligible staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Ric Schwartz mentioned that any employee who receives the vaccine in Sullivan-Orange-Dutchess is given an extra day of PTO/Vacation time. Rick has graciously shared the letter communicating that policy to staff for other Chapters to consider.  

Chapter Resources on COVID-19 Vaccine
We are pleased to share to great resources develop by The Arc New York Chapters.
The Arc Greater Hudson Valley has developed guidance on the informed consent process for Program Planning Teams.
The Arc Lexington recorded an informational video addressing staff questions and confusion about the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Kevin Cope, Lexington Medical Director, provides an overview on the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination, what to expect when getting vaccinated and dispels a few myths.
We thank both Chapters for providing these excellent resources.

Clarification on Return to Work Protocols
As discussed during our weekly Wednesday call with Chapters, several Chapters reported that their local health department (LHD) has instructed that staff who are subject to quarantine must be furloughed and remain out of work for the full duration of the quarantine. This direction is inconsistent with OPWDD's November 16, 2020 "Revised Protocols for Direct Care Staff to Return to Work." We've reached out to OPWDD to discuss the inconsistent directive and the challenges it creates for our field. OPWDD has advised that they are aware of the confusion and have discussed this issue with New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) representatives. 

NYS DOH issued an update to their health advisory titled, "Revised Protocols for Personnel in Healthcare and Other Direct Care Settings to Return to Work Following COVID-19 Exposure." This document has been circulating around Chapters and has created some confusion. We have confirmed with OPWDD that this does not apply to our field, and that we should continue to follow the November 16 OPWDD guidance when making decisions on employees returning to work following COVID-19 exposure. Please let us know if there are any additional challenges with LHD directives.
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

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