COVID-19 Update
March 20, 2020

Workforce Reduction & NYS COVID Sick Leave
The Arc New York legal team provided an update on the latest Governor's Office Executive Order (202.7) and the recently enacted New York State Covid-19 Paid Sick Leave law. Since this update, the Governor made an announcement requiring the reduction of non-essential on-site workforce by 100 percent. He indicated there will be civil fines and mandatory closure for businesses not in compliance with this order. Additional information will be provided as soon as we have additional clarification. For the time being, the OPWDD guidance provided regarding the 75% reduction still applies. 
Day Program Provider Notification of Emergency Response Form
OPWDD announced during Thursday's call with the Provider Association that they are granting a one-time extension on the Day Program Provider Notification of Emergency Response Form. The new due date will be Friday, March 27. The Arc New York again requested that OPWDD conduct a webinar that covers the completion of the form. OPWDD anticipates the webinar will be offered early next week. We will notify Chapters as soon as we become aware of registration.
OPWDD Position on Families Taking Individual's Home & Returning
On Thursday's call, OPWDD made it clear that there is no OPWDD policy on families taking individuals home and that this is left to the discretion of the provider. OPWDD's Counsel's Office articulated that they understand the challenge of balancing people's desire to spend time with their family outside the home with the goal of limiting traffic of people back into the home. Visitation restrictions within the home should must be implemented. OPWDD is currently discussing visitation outside the home, and we will updated you as soon as further guidance is available. 
Notification of Visitor Restrictions 
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) issued a No Visitors poster, which can be used to meet the notifications requirement regarding restriction of visitors to residential sites. The Arc New York has concerns that the DOH poster resembles a quarantine poster, and could cause public panic and stigmatize our homes if they are posted in community settings. In light of these concerns, we've created an alternate poster for use by Chapters at their discretion. As  OPWDD's guidance does not specify that you must use the DOH poster, we are interpreting that to mean other options are acceptable to meet the notification requirement.  Please note the requirement for posting visitor restriction notifications on your website and social media platforms, as well as at all facility entrances. To aid Chapters in complying with these requirements, we've added a sample social media post to the template letter sent earlier today, and created a  social media graphic  for optional inclusion in your posts. If you have any questions or need additional communications support, please reach out to Kate Geurin , Associate Executive Director for Communications.

Interim Guidance for Community Habilitation Services Regarding COVID-19
OPWDD published  guidance  on the implementation of Community Habilitation Services during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Chapters should take particular note of OPWDD's "Considerations About Your Agency's Services," which touches on the use of Telehealth Modalities in the delivery of Community Habilitation Services and the protocol Chapters should implement if services are delivered directly to an individual residing in the community. OPWDD clarified in Thursday's call that Community Habilitation staff do not need to be licensed to deliver the service via telehealth. Chapters should carefully consider this guidance when determining if Community Habilitation Services will be delivered. In the interim, we recommend notifying families that you request their cooperation in limiting taking their loved one out of the residence at this time, and that anyone returning will be subjected to the screening process required by OPWDD. A template letter to help Chapters communicate this request to families can be found here

OPWDD has published  Management of Coronavirus/COVID-19 in OPWDD Family Care Homes guidance . This document is intended to  assist OPWDD Family Care Providers in the prevention and management of COVID-19. Reporting and notification requirement for any cases of quarantine or isolation is also included.

Updated Covid-19 Phone Notification Requirements for OPWDD Providers
OPWDD published an  updated phone notification requirements for OPWDD Providers. Non-substantive changes were made to the document. Please make sure these notification requirements replace those published on March 17, 2020.  
Directive to Quarantine or Isolate by a Physician or Hospital
We received several comments that physicians and hospitals are now directing quarantine/isolation of individuals supported or staff. OPWDD clarified that notification is required when a physician or hospital directs quarantine or isolation in addition to when the Local Health Department (LHD) directs quarantine or isolation. 
Fingerprinting Requirements
Several locations that conduct fingerprinting are not operational at this time. OPWDD is aware and has had calls with the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) who holds the contracts with the fingerprinting companies. They are encouraging the locations to remain open or implement alternative solutions. We will provide additional information as it becomes available.  OPWDD is also looking to address the issue of Direct Support Professionals who would like to work at additional agencies during this public emergency by waiving further background checks. They continue to seek a solution for new hires, as the requirement for fingerprinting is within statute and may take an Executive Order to provide relief.
Calendar Year 2019 CFR Filing Date Extension for OPWDD Providers
OPWDD published a memo extending the due date for OPWDD providers to submit their Consolidated Fiscal Report (CFRs) to August 1, 2020.
Waivers of HIPAA Penalties for use of Telehealth
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced  that during the COVID-19 national emergency they will exercise enforcement discretion and regarding noncompliance with regulatory requirements under the HIPAA Rules, and will  not impose penalties against covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth. The discretion applies to telehealth provided for any reason. Covered entities may only use non-public facing remote communication products to communicate with patients. Please review the announcement closely to ensure that use of communication products conforms with the existing HIPAA Rules.
COVID-19 Cyber Scams
There have been reports of increasing cyber scams surrounding COVID-19. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published guidance on precautions that can be taken to avoid COVID-19 related cyber scams. Please share this guidance with your IT staff for their awareness.
Telecommuting and Cybersecurity
As many Chapters are now having employees work remotely, it is important to educate employees on practices that improve cybersecurity while at home. NYSDOH has published guidance on cybersecurity for telecommuting. Additionally, SANS has published a very simple fact sheet on cybersecurity when working from home, which is a great educational tool for employees.

Helping Individuals Understand COVID-19 
The Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) has developed plain language resources to help keep individuals with I/DD informed about COVID-19. The guides are available in both English and Spanish. Please share this information widely to aid the people we serve in better understanding the unusual circumstances affecting their lives and how they can take steps to stay healthy and reduce transmission of COVID-19. 

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 
  • HR Directors 
  • PR Directors 
  • Quality & Compliance Staff 
  • Joint Committee on Quality & Compliance 
  • State Office Staff