COVID-19 Update
March 26, 2020

URGENT: OPWDD Clinic Provider Survey 
Our clinics (FQHCs, A28s and A16s) provide critical services to people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD). If the state does not provide financial relief to these clinics, many will need to close services, or close entirely, with no assurances that these services will become available again beyond this epidemic. CP of NYS is working with the Governor's office and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to support clinics that serve people with I/DD during the COVID-19 public health emergency. They have requested your urgent response to this brief survey to determine the depth of our clinics' fiscal problems and approximately how long clinics will be able to sustain their services in the face of this crisis.  Please complete the information below by noon today (Thursday, March 26). Your best estimates will suffice, and the information you provide will help us work to preserve our vital clinic services. 

Staff Guidance for the Management of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Facilities or Programs Operated and/or Certified by OPWDD
The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) has published guidance that details strategies for staff assignments in facilities or programs with individuals suspected or confirmed with COVID-19. The guidance also includes steps for certified residential facility staff to take when there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19. Chapters should review these steps with their residential management and staff and ensure it is available within the Individualized Residential Alternatives (IRAs). 

General Management of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Facilities or Programs Operated and/or Certified by OPWDD
OPWDD has published a general guidance document that gives a high level overview of planning considerations when managing COVID-19. This general guidance serves as a good companion document to OPWDD's Staff Guidance for the Management of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Facilities or Programs Operated and/or Certified by OPWDD.

Health Advisory: Respiratory Illness in Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs) for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, Individualized Residential Alternatives, Community Residences (CRs), and Private Schools in Areas of Sustained Community Transmission of COVID-19
OPWDD has published a health advisory for ICFs, IRAs, CRs, and Private Schools. The health advisory focuses on community transmission of COVID-19 in the metro region of New York state. The most significant point in the health advisory is that ANY febrile acute respiratory illness or clusters of acute respiratory illness (whether febrile or not) in ICF/IIDs, IRAs, CRs, and Private Schools in New York City, Long Island, Westchester County, or Rockland County should be presumed to be COVID-19 unless diagnostic testing reveals otherwise. 

Article 16 Clinic Management of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
OPWDD has published guidance specific to the prevention and management of COVID-19 in Article 16 Clinics. The guidance addresses the scheduling of appointments, managing individuals during the clinic visit and general strategies for clinics to take in preparing for COVID-19.

Guidance on Closure of Special Class Programs 
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has offered clarification on how the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) guidance will impact program closures and 180 day requirements for Special Class and Special Class in an Integrated Setting programs licensed by OCFS.
The requirement under Commissioner's Regulations 200.7(b)(5) and 200.20(a)(6) to operate for not less than 180 days during the 10-month school year shall not apply to any closure during the period of March 18, 2020 through March 31, 2020 for Special Class and Special Class in an Integrated Setting programs that close in accordance with the OCFS issued guidance. The Division of the Budget has agreed to provide 2019-20 reconciliation rate waivers via a streamlined approval process to hold providers harmless for the impact of reduced care days due to the 10-month session operating less than 180 days.

Updated Empire State Development Guidance on Essential Businesses 
Empire State Development released updated guidance for determining whether a business enterprise is subject to a workforce reduction under recent Executive Orders. 

General Overview of Comprehensive COVID-19 Response for Providers Webinar 
A recording of the OPWDD's March 24 presentation covering the Day Program Emergency Response Template, Retainer Day Billing and other provider flexibility and relief actions can be viewed here.

Local Health Department Orders of Quarantine 
We are aware that local health departments (LDHs) are giving disparate advice to Chapters. In some cases, more limited quarantine orders are in place based on symptoms, test results, and timing of returning to work or being out of work.  In other cases, LDHs are broadly issuing verbal quarantine orders based on tangential contact or even limited symptoms. The law does entitle the employer to a written order from the LHD, so it is our recommendation to seek that in all cases, if possible. Please note that the New York State Sick Leave Law does not limit the number of times an employee can use this 14-day bank (presuming they are, for example, placed on protective quarantine and then later become ill themselves, or again need to be placed on quarantine). We have raised this concern to OPWDD, so they can bring this to DOH in an effort to provide more thoughtful and consistent feedback to local health departments. 

General Considerations for Implementing Pay Differentials 
Outside of collective bargaining agreement rules, Chapters that already have or are considering implementing pay differentials should consider the following: 
  • make clear that this higher rate/pay differential is temporary,
  • clearly define the circumstances under which the higher rate/pay differential would apply (i.e., only if a house has someone test positive for COVID-19),
  • enumerate the pay rate/differential on wage statements,
  • including any increased payments in regular rate calculations for overtime purposes, and 
  • give employees 7 days advanced notice before discontinuing the higher rate/pay differential. 
Template Interim Telecommuting Policy for Chapter Use 
The Arc New York has developed a template interim telecommuting policy for Chapter use. This document is intended to provide guidance to supervisors to manage telecommuting staff as we adapt in response to the COVID-19 crisis. It will be reviewed regularly and amended as needed. 

Hand Sanitizer Orders
Our Montgomery Chapter manufactures and distributes Purell hand sanitizer for Gojo, and can fill orders for other Chapters. If your Chapter needs hand sanitizer you can complete an order request through NYSID. If you are not already a NYSID customer, you will need to become one to place an order. 

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  
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  • Quality & Compliance Staff 
  • Joint Committee on Quality & Compliance 
  • State Office Staff