From CBS 2 New York:
There is a call to ease COVID-19 restrictions for some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers.
Those with developmental disabilities, along with family members, are asking the state to ease certain guidelines, especially for those who are fully vaccinated.
Robyn Lipshutz never thought getting the COVID vaccine would mean she still needs to quarantine for 14 days, if someone at her Long Island group home tests positive.
“Yes, I know you’re trying to protect me, but I’m wearing a mask, I’m fully vaccinated, and they’re telling me I’m still stuck in this house. That’s unacceptable,” Lipshutz told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
On Monday, she spoke out at a virtual news conference with family members, advocates for the developmentally disabled, and Long Island Assemblywoman Melissa Miller. They’re imploring the state Department of Health to update its COVID protocols for group homes.
“I have received countless emails, phone calls, messages from frustrated families. They cannot understand why their loved one who resides in a group home must repeatedly quarantine for 14 days after an exposure, even though they have been fully vaccinated,” Miller said.
The latest state guidance says those who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after exposure, unless they show symptoms. Advocates say that same standard should apply to group homes, too.
Suzanne Reek’s 21-year-old, non-verbal son, Joseph, is vaccinated and lives at a home in Lido Beach.
“My son, for four months, we were not able to see him, and now we have the potential again to have this happen,” Suzanne Reek said.
The health department referred CBS2 to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. A spokesperson there said the department is, “… currently reviewing our quarantine requirements for group homes, which are consistent with CDC and New York State Department of Health-issued guidelines. We understand family concerns … and we will continue to work with state and federal authorities to ensure people are safely supported with the least restrictions possible.”
Group home advocates are also calling for mandatory COVID testing for staff. The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities said it continues to require daily health screens for anyone entering facilities, and recommends testing for those with symptoms.