Number of COVID-19 Cases Among People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities on Rise

August 6, 2020
Kathy Ritchie

There are more than 44,000 individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are part of the state’s Division of Developmental Disabilities. Most of these individuals live at home. Nearly 5,000 people live in a licensed residential setting, like a group home.

This population is at high risk of contracting and dying from the coronavirus. And according to data from DDD, those living in residential settings are contracting COVID-19 at a much higher rate. Jon Meyers is with the Arc of Arizona, a disability advocacy group.

"The state of Arizona also has not, whether through DDD, DHS or AHCCCS, whomever has not mandated that individuals living in group homes or other licensed residential settings, shelter in place that they be isolated in their homes. It's a recommendation."

At least 30 DDD members have died from the virus. A challenge facing these types of settings is that staff don’t live on site and are at greater risk of coming into contact with the coronavirus and bringing it to work.

"Staff members in those license settings come and go. They don't reside in the home the way the members reside in the home. So they are coming and going, they are probably at greater risk of being exposed to COVID-19 in their daily lives outside of the group homes."

In contrast, of the roughly 39,000 individuals with IDD who live at home, just over 300 have been hit by the virus. And like many long term care settings, owners of those group homes are limited in their capacity to test staff and residents.

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