By Teresa Anderson, Public Policy Director, The Arc/UCP California Collaboration
On December 15, 2022, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted new non-emergency regulations which are now on their way to be approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The OAL has 30 working days to complete the review, and if approved, the new regulations will go into effect within the first quarter of 2023 (most likely before the February deadline for lifting the emergency public health order) and remain effective for 2 years. The California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has issued and update that provides important information on changes to the COVID-19 Prevention Regulations as well as changes to definitions of “close contact” and “exposed group”. The full update can be read here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/coronavirus/Non-Emergency-regs-summary.pdf
Congress has passed two bills to respond to the coronavirus pandemic – but more must still be done to support people with disabilities, their families, and the direct support professionals (DSP) workforce.
The entire country is facing the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, but people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable. People with disabilities are more likely to have underlying health conditions and live in poverty – this means that they will be disproportionately impacted and need ongoing support.
The second Coronavirus Relief Bill was an important step in getting people the support they need. It included increased funding for state Medicaid programs, and it expanded sick leave for workers, including for some workers who support people with disabilities to live independently.
We must ask Members of Congress to pass a new bill to address the ongoing needs of people with disabilities during this crisis, including:
Additional funding to create a Medicaid grant program to support access to home and community-based services (to combat institutionalization) and to support the DSP workforce.
A permanent reauthorization of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. MFP funds states to move people with disabilities and seniors back into the community, after time in a nursing home or hospital setting.
Inclusive economic stimulus and raising asset limits. Congress should ensure that any economic stimulus goes to people with disabilities, including those receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicaid who are subject to strict asset limits which should be raised to ensure that this stimulus does not put crucial benefits at risk.
Paid leave for caregivers for people with disabilities. In the last bill, Congress covered sick days for many workers, but did not include caregivers for people with disabilities who have lost or will lose usual sources of care.
No limitations on civil rights protections provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Affordable Care Act can be included in the legislation.
Click here to call, or click here to email and urge Congress to ensure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities continue to be center to coronavirus relief legislation!
Our routines are changing fast because of Covid-19 also known as the coronavirus. It is hard for us to know what is happening. The SCDD answered the most common questions they have been asked in accessible language. We have compiled them along with other resources for you to read and share.
Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom said that Californians who rely on Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKS, Cash Assistance for immigrants and in-home supportive services will NOT lose access due to COVID-19. If you receive any of these services, you do not have to worry about your re-determinations eligibility for 90 days. The 90-day period started on March 18th.
The Social Security Administration updated their website to reflect the policy changes that they are implementing during the pandemic. You can visit: https://www.ssa.gov/coronavirus/ to read it in full.
The changes most likely to effect our community are:
“All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020. This decision protects the population we serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and our employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, we are still able to provide critical services.”
“We will not start or complete any current medical continuing disability reviews. If you have a medical continuing disability review pending, please do not request medical information from your doctors at this time. We will follow up with you for any medical evidence once the COVID-19 public health emergency subsides.”
“Where possible, we are suspending our processing and collection of overpayments.”
“We are not conducting organization or individual representative payee accountings.”
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are extending our deadlines wherever possible.
If we asked you to contact us by a certain date, please do not come to the office. You can contact us once our offices reopen to the public or you can mail your documents to us. We will follow up with you once the COVID-19 public health emergency subsides.
We are providing maximum flexibility in applying our good cause policy. This policy allows us to extend the time limits for submitting appeals and taking other actions during this public health emergency.”
La información se está desarrollando rápidamente sobre la pandemia del coronavirus. Es difícil mantenerse al día y saber qué podemos hacer para protegernos a nosotros mismos y a las personas que nos rodean. Esto es especialmente desafiante para aquellos de nosotros en la comunidad de personas con discapacidades intelectuales y del desarrollo (I/DD, por sus siglas en inglés). Es importante no entrar en pánico, mantenerse informado y practicar una buena higiene.
DDS ha lanzado esta página web útil con enlaces a información específicamente para ayudar a los proveedores de servicios a hacer todo lo posible para proteger la salud de los clientes y el personal.
SCDD compartió estas útiles guías de una página en un idioma accesible en inglés y español para ayudar a las personas con I /DD a mantenerse informadas.
Green Mountain Self-Advocates creó la información más detallada sobre COVID-19 por y para personas con discapacidades, también disponible en inglés y español.
Information is developing quickly about the coronavirus pandemic. It is difficult to keep up with and know what we can do to protect ourselves and the people around us. This is especially challenging for those of us in the disability community. It is important not to panic, to keep informed, and practice good hygiene.
DDS has released this useful webpage with links to information specifically to help providers do all that they can to protect the health of clients and staff.
SCDD shared these useful one page guides in accessible language in both English and Spanish to help people with I/DD stay informed.
Green Mountain Self-Advocates created the more in depth COVID-19 Information By and For People with Disabilities also available in English and Spanish.
Given the recent media coverage of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (also referred to as the new Coronavirus) outbreak and the on-going public health alerts it is no wonder so many people are fearful. In hoping to alleviate some of that fear I wanted share what I have learned about the new Coronavirus and prevention efforts. It is being called the “new” Coronavirus because it is a new strain of existing Coronaviruses that are part of a large family of viruses that cause respiratory illnesses from the common cold to severe respiratory illnesses such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Since this is a new strain scientists and infection control specialist are still learning how it spreads, what the incubation period is, how contagious the virus may be, and whether or not antiviral medications would be effective in reducing duration and severity.
As of February 4, 2020, there were 6 confirmed cases in California. The CA Department of Public health is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and local partners to activate emergency operations to address and prepare for the new Coronavirus, which does include the quarantine of passengers returning from to San Francisco from China. The quarantine is 14 days because there is still not a lot of information about the incubation period and some believe it could be anywhere from 5 – 14 days. CA has a very strong Public Health Department and is acting with great caution to reduce the risk and spread of the new Coronavirus. The Director of the Department, Dr. Sonia Angell wants the public to know “The novel coronavirus is a serious public health concern, however the risk to the general public in California remains low. We have had only one case of person-to-person transmission here and it was from a traveler to China to a spouse. Both are in stable condition.” Public health officials are asking anyone who has recently traveled, especially to China, or believe that they have come into contact with the virus to contact their local health department.
Public Health efforts in CA center on preventing the spread of this virus as such they continue to do the following:
Maintain current information about the outbreak and how to report suspected cases
Coordinate with Federal Authorities regarding quarantines
Communicate with health care providers about how to safely manage patients suspected of having the virus
Support hospitals and public health labs for on-site testing rather than tests being sent to the CDC
Provide a coordinated response across the state
The CDC reminds us that the best way to prevent infection if to avoid being exposed to the virus. The risk of exposure to this and many other viruses can be significantly reduced by practicing everyday prevention habits that include:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
To learn more or stay up to date on what the CDPH is doing to protect California from this virus visit: https://www.cdph.ca.gov