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What if my client or someone they live with has been exposed to COVID-19

Guidance for Direct Service Providers

What if my client or someone they live with has been exposed to COVID-19, has symptoms of COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19?

  • Encourage your client to contact their healthcare provider or help them contact their provider if assistance is needed. Clients may need help accessing telehealthexternal icon.

  • If hospitalization for your client is not needed, your client may require assistance with home care for COVID-19.

    • See guidance for implementing home care of people not requiring hospitalization.

    • Follow recommended infection prevention and control measures, including the use of recommended PPE.

  • Follow healthcare provider guidance for standard and transmission-based precautions to protect yourself when providing care for clients with COVID-19.

    • Masks are not PPE and should not be worn in place of proper PPE for the care of clients with known or suspected COVID-19.

  • Sick clients should also wear a facemask (if tolerated).

    • Wearing masks may be difficult for people with sensory, cognitive, or behavioral issues. Masks are not recommended for children under 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the covering without assistance.

  • Review the Administration for Community Living COVID-19external icon website regularly for information and contact your state’s Developmental Disability Administration, Disability Council, or Independent Living Council for local information regarding availability and assistance in obtaining resources.

  • If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 in their home, monitor for emergency signs, prevent the spread of germs, treat symptoms, and follow recommendations for when to end home isolation.

  • Call your healthcare provider for medical advice regarding your own health.

What if I become sick or am exposed to someone who has COVID-19?

  • Stay home and self-isolate, except to get medical care.

    • Staying at home helps protect the people you work with who may be at greater risk of infection or severe illness from COVID-19. It also helps protect others in the community.

  • If you develop symptoms such as a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or new loss of taste or smell or you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your healthcare provider for further guidance.

  • Notify your employer, the client with disabilities and, if applicable, their guardian as soon as possible so appropriate plans for an alternate DSP can be made. The client should be monitored for COVID-19 symptoms.

Are my clients at increased risk for becoming infected or having severe illness from COVID-19?

People with one of the disability types listed may be at increased risk of becoming infected or having severe illness from COVID-19.

  • People who have limited mobility and/or who cannot avoid coming into close contact with others who may be infected

  • People who have trouble understanding information or practicing preventive measures, such as hand washing and social distancing

  • People who may not be able to communicate symptoms of illness

  • People who are blind or have low vision who rely on touch or tactile information

  • People who need alternative communication methods, such as sign language or braille, who may not have access to information

Adults with disabilities are three times more likely than adults without disabilities to have serious underlying medical conditions. They may have an increased risk for serious illness from COVID-19 if they are older adults live in a long-term care facility or have certain underlying medical conditions. Learn more about people who are at higher risk for severe illness.

How can I cope with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Remember to take care of your physical and mental health as you continue to provide important services to people with disabilities. It is important for you to maintain healthy behaviors, manage stress, and seek additional support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some important steps to take to help you manage and cope with stress:

  • Take care of your body.

    • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.

    • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

    • Exercise regularly.

    • Get plenty of sleep.

    • Avoid alcohol and drugs.

  • Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly.

  • Connect with others in a safe way (maintaining social distancing). Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, anxiety, or thoughts of hurting or killing yourself or others:

During this pandemic, it is critical that you recognize what stress looks like, take steps to build your resilience and cope with stress, and know where to go if you need help.

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