Many people with developmental disabilities have additional health issues that could put some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes older adults, individuals with compromised immune systems, and individuals who have serious chronic medical conditions like, heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. Since developmental disabilities include individuals who have had heart surgeries, seizures, gut issues, brain surgeries, cancer, and other chronic illnesses, many people with I/DD are in this increased risk category.
According to Dr. Laveeza Bhatti of the Achievable Clinic, even for individuals who do not have additional health issues and are in good health, their increased risk is associated with the inability to keep good personal hygiene, such as washing hands thoroughly.
Dr. Clarissa Kripke, Director of the UCSF Office of Developmental Primary Care, advises the following for people with developmental disabilities:
“If there is community spread in your county, the safest thing for people with DD and their loved ones is to stay home (no events, vocational, or day program, no groups or visits). Implement a strict infection control plan in your home (restrict visitors, stay six feet away from others when outside, enforce hand washing when coming, going, eating, using restroom, use bleach solution or other disinfectant to wipe all high touch surfaces several times per day, including your cell phone, door knobs, doorbell, light switches, sinks, fridge, etc.) Make plans for how you will manage if you are quarantined, don’t have your usual services, or have to help a sick loved one. This preventive measure may go on for months and will be disruptive and costly, but getting sick will be even more difficult to manage, so do the best you can.”
The California Department of Public Health has written a general guidance for individuals with access and functional needs.
The Department of Developmental Services has issued an important guidance to reduce the risk of exposure to Coronavirus for individuals who are at higher risk for serious illness. The Director of the Department is directing regional centers to take immediate action to ensure consumers who have compromised immune systems or who are more susceptible to respiratory illness, and/or who reside in licensed residential facilities, remain home rather than attend day services outside the home.
The CDC has also produced this Guidance on Preventing the Spread of Disease in Home and Residential Communities.