Dear Colleague,

There has been much information in the media in the past few days about the coronavirus in the United States.  This notice has some basic information that may be helpful for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), their families, and direct support professionals (DSPs). 
The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) has a free, 24-hour public hotline for questions on the coronavirus.    The phone number is 1-800-222-1222.  The hotline is operated by the NJ Poison Information and Education System, also known as the NJ Poison Center, which is a division of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Click here to see the DOH web page on the coronavirus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has lots of information on the coronavirus on their website, which is available here .

The most important thing that everyone can do now is to remain calm, and to utilize the basic illness prevention strategies that are important in preventing all types of viruses, including the flu and the coronavirus.  These strategies are summarized below:
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If you are sick, stay home from work, a day program, or school 
  • If you are coughing, cough into the inside of your elbow instead of covering your mouth with your hand. Cover your nose with a tissue if sneezing and throw the tissue into the trash.
  • If a family member or a person with I/DD in a group home is sick, it is important to clean and disinfect objects that the person who is ill has touched.
  • Drink lots of fluids

Persons with I/DD or their caregivers should always contact their health care providers if there are concerns about the individual's health (whether the concern is regarding influenza, another type of virus, or the possibility of the coronavirus).

The CDC is not recommending face masks for healthy people, but they could be helpful for an individual who is sick, to prevent that individual from transmitting that illness to others. In the event that the coronavirus spreads in the United States and disrupts one's daily routines, it is a good idea to develop contingency plans, just in case they are needed.

As further information on the coronavirus in the U.S. becomes available, it is important to check trustworthy sources, such as the CDC website or the NJ Department of Health website (see the links above).
Please share this with others who may also be interested.

Thank you.


Beverly Roberts
Director, Mainstreaming Medical Care
The Arc of New Jersey
985 Livingston Avenue
North Brunswick, NJ 08902