Coronavirus Information

Community Access Unlimited – COVID-19 Community Resources

Community Access is committed to the safety, health and well-being of our staff and members. As the world community monitors the news about the spread of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19), we want to assure you that the administrative team at Community Access Unlimited is keeping up to date on the situation, listening to recommendations coming from appropriate authorities, and taking proactive steps to minimize disease transmission.

We have decided to postpone the following events. We want to take all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of our members, staff and the community:

  • Complete the Count Event! On Saturday, March 14th
  • Community Network Breakfast on Thursday, March 19th
  • CAU Cabaret on Friday, March 20th
  • Connecting Families on Saturday, March 21st
  • Full Time Staff Meeting on March 26th
  • All Recreation events from March 12th to March 20th (We will be sending weekly updates on recreation events)
  • Award Night on April 2nd (which will be moved to June 18th)
    Please call the CAU main office at (908)354-3040 to verify your upcoming event or meeting
Table of Contents

 

To Families and Guardians

 Important Message for Families and Guardians from CAU Executive Director Bernadette Griswold

April 1, 2020

Dear CAU Friends and Families,

Community Access Unlimited (CAU) wanted to take this opportunity to share an update with you regarding our response to coronavirus/COVID-19.

CAU is in frequent communication with officials and experts to ensure we are following the timely, relevant information available to maintain the health and safety of our members and staff.  We regularly share COVID-19 safety instructions and guidelines with staff and continuously cultivate new ways to keep our members active at home. Unfortunately, in following CDC-recommended safety measures, we cannot accept visitors to programs at this time.  This temporary policy is simply aimed at reducing the possibility of spreading COVID-19 and keeping your loved ones safe.

Though mandated limitations on gatherings have called for us to pause some of our programs (Day Habilitation and others), we have been implementing creative in-home activities to keep our members engaged and thriving despite changed routines.  Activities like painting, scavenger hunts, making a healthy meal, advocacy and other projects have been a bright spot for many of our members and staff. Photos from our “CAU 7-Day Challenge” (extended due to popular demand), are posted on our Facebook page – please visit and scroll to see our members and staff in action at home.  Members are also enjoying video and board games, puzzles, brisk walks, or other individualized activities. Rest assured that in addition to our attention to equipping staff to follow COVID-19 safety practices, CAU remains committed to making sure the time at home is being used as an opportunity to learn and grow.

CAU provides essential services to our members, and essential staff are screened before entering a residential program to ensure that our staff and members stay safe and healthy. This screening policy for CAU DD and TOP programs is in line with the CDC guidelines, and includes screening questions and a checklist before each shift to ensure staff do not have symptoms of the virus, have not been exposed to an infected person or travelled to an area deemed high risk. Staff members have been instructed not to come to work and contact their medical provider if they are not feeling well and have a fever or dry cough. If staff are tested for COVID-19, they must notify Human Resources and their direct supervisor so we can take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. Staff are also sent daily reminders to wash their hands properly.

As we gather information and resources on the virus, we are sharing them with you on our website at caunj.org. There you can find links with resources for and by people with disabilities, as well as updates from DDD, the State of New Jersey and more.

Here is one example of CAU staff creativity from staff member Cassandra Dorcely and member Nicholas from our one of our Residential Programs. This story was both emotional and powerful and puts everything into perspective:  https://spark.adobe.com/page/VoiZzv5UE0vxK/

We are thankful for our amazing staff and their unwavering commitment to our program participants during this challenging time.

Thank you and stay safe,
Bernadette Griswold
Executive Director
Community Access Unlimited

 

To CAU Staff 

CAU is taking every measure we can to ensure the safety of our members and staff. Although there is a shortage throughout the country and delivery delays, CAU has obtained N95 masks and is distributing one mask to all staff providing direct care services to our members. These masks are for prevention only. If there is a positive member in our programs, CAU will take protective measures outlined by the CDC guidelines.

The agency is also working diligently to obtain thermometers and once they are received, CAU will distribute.  Because we are in competition with hospitals, it is difficult to obtain these supplies. CAU will continue to look to purchase more Personal Protective Equipment for our members and staff.

CAU has been educating ourselves regarding social distancing over the past month.

Social distancing can easily be forgotten about as it is not something we are used to doing, especially in our day to day activities. In our research, one place that social distancing is not happening is in elevators. Please be mindful if you are getting into an elevator when there is a group, think about taking the next one. It is ok to politely decline to enter the elevator and take the next one, this is for your protection.

 

To Members We Serve  

Community Access Unlimited is committed to the safety, health and well-being of our members. As we continue to monitor the increasing impact of COVID-19, we want to assure you that the administrative team at CAU is keeping up to date on the situation, listening to recommendations coming from appropriate authorities, and taking proactive steps to minimize disease transmission.

These steps include distributing N95 masks to all staff providing direct support for members, stepping up cleaning protocols, and sending staff regular reminders of proper handwashing technique and prevention methods.

The actions we have taken are consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health departments.

Our Director of Behavioral Services, Tracy LeBaron, recently shared tips for helping individuals with autism while social distancing due to COVID-19. We encourage you to read her suggestions, which may be helpful for speaking with loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Thank you for trusting CAU, and know that we are taking precautions to minimize disruption to services while keeping our members and staff safe.

 

NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities Resources

 

Important Information Regarding Day Program Closures and Discontinued Community Outings Related to COVID-19:

Community Access Unlimited continues to monitor and respond to the unfolding COVID-19 changes and concerns affecting the members we serve, their families, our staff, stakeholders, partners and our community.  We take this opportunity to share, unedited, recent information provided to us by the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities on March 13, 2020.  CAU is not the author of this information – we are simply sharing it as a service to members and families who might not be on the DDD’s subscription list. 

To: Individuals, Families and Stakeholders of the Division of Developmental Disabilities

RE: DDD GUIDANCE: DAY PROGRAM CLOSURES & DISCONTINUED COMMUNITY OUTINGS RELATED TO COVID-19

Dear Individuals, Families and Stakeholders:

The highest priority of the Division of Developmental Disabilities is the health and safety of the individuals we serve. Early information on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) suggests that older adults and people with chronic or underlying health conditions have a heightened risk of getting very sick if they become infected. An important step to preventing the spread of COVID-19 is to eliminate large groups of people congregating together.

For this reason, DDD is calling for immediate actions to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). No later than Tuesday, March 17, all Division-funded, facility-based day services have been directed to close until advised otherwise.

Additionally, the Division has directed that community outings facilitated by providers that are not for the health or safety of an individual should be discontinued immediately.

The immediate health and safety of the individuals we serve are our top priority, and we are committed to working with our individuals, their families, and provider community to identify the best available solutions to keep individuals safe.

We recognize that this guidance will raise immediate questions about service delivery and reimbursement. The Division will provide additional details over the weekend, but we wanted to get this message to you all as quickly as possible. This is an evolving situation, we will stay in touch often, and we encourage stakeholders to monitor state and national public health websites for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

Thank you.

Jonathan Seyfried
Assistant Commissioner
New Jersey Department of Human Services
Division of Developmental Disabilities

 

NJ Department of Human Services – Division of Children and Families

 

New Jersey COVID-19 Information

  • Information Hub
  • Have general questions about COVID-19? The NJ Poison Control Center and 211 have partnered with the State to provide information to the public on COVID-19
    • Call: 2-1-1
    • Call (24/7): 1-800-962-1253
    • Text: NJCOVID to 898-211

 

Additional NJ resources for up-to-date information

 

Green Mountain Self-Advocates

Brochure by and for people with disabilities

 

Jewish Family Service Food Pantry

The food pantry is for anyone struggling to purchase food in Union County. Call 908-352-8375.

 

Forbes

 

Child Mind Institute

Tips for Supporting Kids

 

Economic Impact Payments and Social Security Administration Updates 

The distribution of federal stimulus checks has begun and will occur automatically with no action required for most people. Adults with annual incomes up to $75,000 will receive $1,200, plus another $500 per child. Some Americans earning more than $75,000 would also receive money if they meet certain qualifications. Click here to access the IRS’s online tool to track your payment.

Payments will be automatically deposited into bank accounts for Social Security beneficiaries who are not typically required to file tax returns. If you do not file a federal tax return, click here for more information on how to receive a stimulus check.

IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact Payments page

SSA Coronavirus Updates Page

Effective March 17, 2020, Social Security Offices Will Only Offer Phone Service

** Online Services Remain Available **

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.

Our secure and convenient online services remain available at www.socialsecurity.gov. Local offices will also continue to provide critical services over the phone. We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local governments, and other experts to monitor COVID-19 and will let you know as soon as we can resume in-person service.

If you need help from Social Security:

  • First, please use our secure and convenient online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and much more – from anywhere and from any of your devices. We also have a wealth of information to answer most of your Social Security questions online, without having to speak with a Social Security representative in person or by phone. Please visit our online Frequently Asked Questions at www.socialsecurity.gov/ask.
  • If you cannot conduct your Social Security business online, please check our online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact your local office. Your local office still will be able to provide critical services to help you apply for benefits, answer your questions, and provide other services over the phone.
  • If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, we will call you to handle your appointment over the phone instead. If you have a hearing scheduled, we will call you to discuss alternatives for continuing with your hearing, including offering a telephonic hearing. Our call may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone. Please remember that our employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment.
  • If you cannot complete your Social Security business online, please call our National 800 Number at 1-800- 772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Our National 800 Number has many automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative. A list of automated telephone services is available online at www.socialsecurity.gov/agency/contact/phone.html.

Fraud Advisory from SSA

The Inspector General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19-related office closures. We will not suspend or discontinue benefits because our offices are closed to the public for in-person service. Read the fraud advisory.

 

Coronavirus Relief Legislation – A Call to Action

People with disabilities are more likely to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to chronic health conditions that can make it harder to cope with and recover from illness. They are also more likely to live in poverty. Around the country, people are facing the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and people with disabilities are particularly in need of support. 

Take Action- Reach out to your members of Congress and ask them to pass a new bill to address the needs of Americans with disabilities during the crisis. These needs include: 

  • Funding to create a Medicaid grant program to support access to at-home and community-based services and to support Direct Support Professionals.
  • 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.
  • Economic stimulus and raising asset limits. Congress may pass legislation to make direct payments to low-income Americans. People with disabilities receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Medicaid are subject to strict asset limits. Those asset limits must be raised to ensure that people are not at risk of losing vital benefits.

Contact Senator Bob Menendez

Contact Senator Cory Booker

Find my Representative

 

United Way COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund 

The United Way has established a COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to support communities affected by the virus. The fund will help the most vulnerable populations receive critical financial and social service support during this global crisis. Dial 211 to speak to someone about local assistance at any time.

 

World Institute on Disability

 

Information from the CDC:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its list of symptoms related to COVID-19 to include chills, shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. It cautions that at least two or more of the new symptoms are consistent with COVID-19. Previously, the CDC listed just three known symptoms: shortness of breath, cough and fever. For more information, click here. Please consult your medical provider if you are ill and concerned with the severity of your symptoms.

Early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:

  • Older adults
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

If a COVID-19 outbreak happens in your community, it could last for a long time. (An outbreak is when a large number of people suddenly get sick.) Depending on how severe the outbreak is, public health officials may recommend community actions to reduce people’s risk of being exposed to COVID-19. These actions can slow the spread and reduce the impact of disease.

If you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19 because of your age or because you have a serious long-term health problem, it is extra important for you to take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease.

 

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 

 

The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America

 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

 

World Health Organization

WHO COVID-19 Web Page

World Health Organization Media Briefings

 

 

COVID-19 Facts

Definition: A respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Treatment: There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often.

Transmission: The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Symptoms: Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Some patients have pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure, and in some cases death.

Prevention: People can help protect themselves from respiratory illness with everyday preventive actions. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. If you are sick, to keep from spreading respiratory illness to others, you should: 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.

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