Lawmakers, advocates share frustration over state’s group home and day hab COVID rules

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A bipartisan group of lawmakers and advocates are pushing for COVID-19 restrictions to be loosened up at group homes and day hab programs in New York State.

Laura Tobia says her brother Billy whom she is a guardian for “has not been able to participate in his day hab for 15 months.” She is one of many loved ones upset over the state’s current COVID-19 policies for day hab programs and group homes. 

Despite updated guidance from the CDC, lawmakers say vaccinated individuals in group homes are still being required to quarantine if they come into contact with a COVID positive person due to state guidelines.

“Even though most of them are vaccinated, they still get locked down. They still have to quarantine, some of these individuals haven’t been able to see their family in a month or more,” said Assemblywoman Missy Miller.

Miller also wants day hab programs to be able to open to full capacity. “Explain to me, if we can have full capacity at a Mets game, if you’re vaccinated, 100 percent capacity to go to a baseball game, but the day programs, if you’re vaccinated, still can’t open up, still can’t have 100 percent capacity,” she said.

“Why is the guidance different for these places? These are people. These are our kids, these are our brothers, these are our family members. Why are they being discriminated against? Why are they being treated so differently?” said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti.

In a statement the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities said, “OPWDD is currently reviewing our quarantine requirements for group homes, which are consistent with NYS Department of Health issued guidelines.  We understand family concerns about their loved ones being quarantined, even if they have already been vaccinated, and we will continue to work with state authorities to ensure people are safely supported with the least restrictions possible.”

We’ve also reached out to the Department of Health to see if they have any plans to change the protocols and are awaiting response.

Data from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities shows there have been a total of 7,104 confirmed cases of COVID-19 for group home residents, and 576 resident deaths.

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