I hope all my readers are doing well in this confusing summer. It feels as though we were just preparing to launch back into normal life when we found the delta variant chasing along behind us. Still, it’s been heartening to hear, on each of the recent DDS community calls, that no new cases of covid-19 have shown up among the people that receive long-term supports, and the levels of vaccination continue to climb: 75% was the vaccination rate at the end of July among the people DDS supports: (https://dds.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dds/publication/attachments/DDS%20Community%20%20Provider%20Forum_COVID%20Data%2007.30.21.pdf)
What remains worrisome, though, is that the level of vaccination among people supported exceeds that of provider-agency staffs, which was only 63% at the end of July with significant variability among different providers. DDS has been helpfully collecting this information and posting it on its website – see https://dds.dc.gov/page/covid-19-vaccination-rates-dds-provider-staff for current numbers. You can see for yourself that some providers are doing much better than others. It’s also worth noting that the staff vaccination levels include administrative staff as well as DSPs, and that the overall vaccination levels for large organizations that have many different programs make it hard to know, for example, what the vaccination rate is among residential staff. On the Friday calls in July, some providers were quite open and eager to share information about how they are trying to motivate staff to be vaccinated, while others have been more reticent. While respecting HIPAA protections for individual staff, I believe that providers with 50 or more staff should be expected to break down their numbers further, e.g. between day and residential at a minimum, so that people can better understand potential risk levels as we head back toward the fall and more indoor living.
Work continues behind the scenes among advocates on the“Developmental Disability Eligibility Reform Amendment Act” (https://lims.dccouncil.us/Legislation/B24-0268). I’ll have more on that soon. Things will really begin to ramp up in September, with a possible hearing in October. So get ready to activate next month – we’ll need your voice and your energy to get the legislation passed!
In the meantime, keep safe, and encourage others to do the same.