November COVID-19 Update
November 10, 2021
The Arc Baltimore continues a cautious, but steady move toward more normal operations and programming. We are maintaining our safety protocols as some of our staff and people in our programs still experience exposures to COVID and cases due to the Delta variant that require us to follow health department regulations.
Offices will remain at lowered capacity through December. Centers are beginning to open in December with a staggered approach so that participants in Day Services have options for time in the community to enjoy a variety of activities, continue classes on zoom, and time in the centers. People supported by Community Living are asked to continue careful masking when on outings and with visitors in their homes. Similar cautions and masking requirements are also in practice for Family Living visits, all day and employment settings, and offices. Many participants in our programs were able to get COVID boosters in October at two drive-through clinics we offered (along with flu shots).
To date, The Arc has offered financial incentives to staff who supply proof of receiving the COVID vaccine. We have not had a mandate; however, OSHA has provided guidance recently according to President Biden’s mandate for employers of more than 100 staff. Plans are underway for The Arc to comply with the January deadline. We also continue to encourage all our program participants and their families to be vaccinated. We support many with underlying health concerns, so the higher percentage of vaccinations, the safer everyone will be.
Community Living COVID-19 Visitation & Activity Policy
Effective July 26, 2021
Oh, what a year it has been! After 16 months of Pandemic-restricted living, we are looking at returning to some normalcy in our daily lives. Restrictions on visitors and community outings are being removed for people in our Community Living supported homes, but with a few important conditions to maintain safety. Please note this could change based on the positivity rate in Baltimore City and County or other COVID-related factors.
Visitors in the Home:
Visitors are allowed in the home, without restriction to space, time, or frequency.
ALL VISITORS MUST WEAR A MASK!
A visitor log will be maintained in the home with the date and time of the visit, in case any contact tracing needs to be done. Temperatures of all visitors will still be taken and recorded.
The Arc COVID team (email@example.com) would need to be notified if any visitor becomes symptomatic or COVID-positive since this impacts the entire home.
Family & Friend Visits:
Supported individuals have full capacity to visit or go on vacation with their families and friends.
Appointments will be in-person unless otherwise indicated by the physician. Remote appointments may still be necessary for individuals who are not able to wear a mask if the doctor's office or medical facility requires it.
People we support may resume their preferred activities in the community such as trips to the grocery store, local parks, barber and hair dresser appointments, eating out at restaurants, special interest activities, day center activities, bowling, amusement parks, vacations, etc.
Please continue to be vigilant and follow the masking protocols at all times to ensure the ongoing health and safety of those we support, our incredible staff team, and all their families. All staff must continue to wear masks when working in the homes. The Arc Baltimore will stay on top of new information and will update and disseminate new procedures as appropriate. Any questions about this policy may be directed to the relevant Program Coordinator or Program Director, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID-19 OPERATIONAL UPDATES (As of 6/11/21)
Update on 6/11 - The Arc Baltimore developed new guidance for porch visits, visitation, and community outings for people receiving day services.
At this time, The Arc is maintaining a cautious approach and following many safety practices as our priority remains the safety of the people we support. More outings and in-person visits and events are occurring for people in our Community and Family Living programs and we are encouraging people to get out and enjoy themselves whenever possible and safe. Day services are continuing virtual classes, organizing more porch visits, and beginning small group trips and excursions in the community that are reuniting friends and staff. In addition, many more people have been finding job opportunities in our competitive employment program and those working on contracts continue easing back into work sites where it can be done following safety protocols with safeguards in place for all.
There are no definite dates or plans for further reopening at present, however, we are closely monitoring the local positivity rates and vaccination levels. Vaccination rates among people we support as well as staff remain under 50%, so wearing masks remains essential.
DAY PROGRAMS (Virtual classes and porch visits)
- Remote classes for learning, seeing friends, physical activity, and other enjoyments remain our primary outreach for people in our day programs.
- Participants are having a lot of fun with daily chat groups, computer classes, musical theater, art classes, job training, and other offerings.
- To see the current list of what’s available: www.thearcbaltimore.org/virtualday
- Porch visits can continue; in-home visits will have restrictions.
- Supports continue for all who continue their jobs in essential businesses including hospitals and grocery stores, and we are reaching out to supported workers who may now be able to return to other businesses that are reopening. We are actively seeking new job opportunities as more businesses reopen.
- Protocols for PPE, social distancing, vehicle use, and on-site requirements must be followed.
- While recent classes of Project SEARCH have celebrated virtual graduations, participants continue to meet and prepare for job opportunities. This also applies to participants in Career Catalyst.
OUTREACH, CLINICAL, AND FAMILY SERVICES
- Staff team members remain available for inquiries about program services and other resource needs. Call 410-296-2272 ext. 5310.
- Supports to people in their families’ homes continue, for some remotely and where physical support is needed, in-person.
- Moms and Dads and other caregivers continue to meet online in peer support groups and have been finding great joy and relief in connecting with one another. Schedules for these meetings are on our website.
- Social workers continue support to our Foster Care parents who have the added challenges of parenting their kids who are not able to attend camps or ESY.
MAIN OFFICE AND SETON EMPLOYMENT CENTER
Our offices on York Road and at Seton remain closed to visitors. The majority of administrative staff continue to work remotely, but are available by their normal email and telephone extensions. Any team member needed on-site must wear a mask and maintain social distance. Personnel in offices are limited to 25% capacity and with staggered schedules to ensure 6 ft. social distancing. All training is being conducted online.
Let’s stay together. Thank you.
TWO WAYS TO HELP!
We continue to respond to the Coronavirus threat and have taken many steps to keep the people we support and our staff safe. At this time, we are turning to our community for support. If you want to help, we’ve provided two easy ways to do so!
A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO KATHLEEN DURKIN
WHAT IS COVID-19 AND WHAT CAN I DO?
The Arc Maryland and the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council partnered to create a COVID-19 resource guide that is written in plain language. Check out the information on symptoms, hygiene protocols, and suggestions for how to spend your time indoors. The last page has a list of additional resources.
Dial 2-1-1 for help. The answers you’re looking for are just three digits away. Information, community resources, and referrals on a variety of health and human service issues are available with one easy call. A trusted and caring call specialist is there to answer the helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 2-1-1 Maryland United Way Helpline provides individuals and families one easy-to-remember hotline for assistance.
Watch for additional notifications from The Arc. Staff should contact their managers for further information. Families and other agencies should also use their normal contacts with questions as needed. This will also help us identify new information that we can distribute. If you do not receive a satisfactory response, email email@example.com.
The Arc is coordinating clinics with CVS for people supported in programs of The Arc Baltimore and staff. Other family members are not eligible for vaccines from these clinics unless they are providing support services under Appendix K. If you are staff or have a family member supported by The Arc and did not receive the email on registering for a vaccine clinic, email firstname.lastname@example.org immediately.
Requirements to register and make appointments vary from county to county (and Baltimore City). Regardless of which priority group you are in, it is advised to register for the vaccine in your home county. Some counties offer the option to register where you work as well.
The Maryland Department of Health has a new vaccine helpline at 1-855-MDGOVAX (1-855-634-6829) to help those without internet access information on the COVID-19 Vaccine and finding vaccine sites.
Baltimore County - https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/c268c6f40463480baae69154b7845ffd
Baltimore City – Does not offer registration, but vaccination sites and appointment information may be found at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/pages/vaccine
American Society for Virology - COVID Q&A Videos on the vaccine - https://asv.org/education/
National Association for Direct Professionals – Answers on the vaccine -https://nadsp.org/webinar-your-questions-and-our-answers-about-the-covid-19-vaccine-for-direct-support-professionals/?mc_cid=1be504c517&mc_eid=55f4f60662
Black Doctors.org -- Making it plain, what Black Americans need to know about COVID 19 and the Vaccine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv2qR6xniq4&feature=emb_rel_pause
Centers for Disease Control – Vaccines information - https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/index.html
CDC 8 Things to Know about Vaccines - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/8-things.html
Maryland Department of Health Vaccine Plan - https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/COVID-Vaccine-FactSheet_1.6_1500.pdf
About the Vaccines - https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/About-the-Vaccines-12_7_1630.pdf
Clinical Trials - https://covidlink.maryland.gov/content/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/COVID19-ClinicalTrials-FactSheet_1.5.pdf
I'm a Black doctor who didn't trust the Covid vaccine. Here's what changed my mind: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/i-m-black-doctor-who-didn-t-trust-covid-vaccine-ncna1255085
At this time, there is not a mandate. We are encouraging all staff to plan for the vaccine and this includes providing information on what is known about the vaccine and the risks of not getting it. We understand there are fears about vaccines and are urging staff to keep an open mind and learn what they can, from reliable sources.
Clearly, our government stimulated a massive response to remove barriers, provide needed funding, and speed up the process, however, the normal research and testing were performed with rigor and to all needed specifications. In addition, the worldwide community of scientists and pharmaceutical companies shared research and collaborated in a way that was truly unprecedented.
Like any vaccination, there may be side effects, but the majority are mild and temporary. This may include pain or swelling at the injection site, fever, fatigue, and headache. This usually occurs within the first hours after receiving the vaccination – and are signs that the vaccination is doing its work.
Pharmacies and other providers of the vaccinations are keeping people on-site for up to 30 minutes to monitor any reactions.
The sooner we all get the vaccine, the better. It is very important that the majority of the population gets the vaccination. If this does not occur, we will remain at higher risk of spreading the virus. The sooner we all get the vaccine, the sooner we get back to normal life.