The Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities (SCBDD) has been monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak with the guidance of the Shelby County Public Health Department, including information from the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Health authorities have indicated that the situation is evolving and we need to do all we can to inform those we serve and ourselves of measures we can take to prevent the spread of the virus. With this communication, we will outline more detail on our planning and guidelines. We will continue to follow the guidelines from the Shelby County Public Health Department.
Symptoms of the Virus
Patients with COVID-19 have experienced mild to severe respiratory illness that can include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. If a person has been in close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 in the past 2 weeks and develops symptoms, they are advised to call their doctor.
Continued education on every day preventative measures, similar to flu prevention, is very important. It is important that we continue to focus our efforts on educating the individuals who have developmental disabilities, their families, staff and providers. Those measures to stop the spread of germs are:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stop handshaking – use other methods of greeting.
Surgical masks do not protect people from COVID-19, as it’s the type of virus that can enter through the mask or along the edges where there are gaps. Surgical masks are most effective at controlling the spread of the virus from a source or infected person. Surgical masks should not be used by healthy people for “protection” from coronavirus – it will not provide protection and will deplete the limited stock needed for use by sick individuals and to protect health care workers.
As the information evolves, we want people to have the most up to date information. This is available on the home page of the SCBDD Website (www.shelbydd.org), where there is a link to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
We will also continue to send out information to be included on our Facebook page as well.
Our facilities employees will continue to implement disinfectant protocols in all of our buildings and is exploring use of additional, more targeted disinfectant. In addition, we ask individuals, families, staff and providers to also practice every day safe cleaning protocols in their homes, classrooms, work areas, etc.
We will continue to follow the Health Department’s guidance related to attendance at large gatherings. We will make decisions on individual events based on these guidelines. We are defining large gatherings or meetings as those that include 20 or more people. We encourage individuals to make the choice that is best for their own personal situations with consideration of appropriate social distancing. Attendance at large gatherings is discouraged.
If necessary, decisions to suspend preschool will only be made after consultation with appropriate Health Officials. If classes are closed temporarily, families will be informed and provided alternative at-home educational suggestions.
Quarantine decisions will be made by the Health authorities. If a person has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or thinks he/she has been exposed and ‘Self Quarantine’ is considered, we will consult with the Health Department. We would also consider allowance of a person to use sick or other leave for a self-quarantine period if a public health official advises you to stay home due to a possible exposure.
Certain staff are required to make home visits. To make home visits, staff are to contact the family or person 24 hours prior to the visit to verify that they are not experiencing flu-like symptoms or was recently diagnosed with the flu or other contagious disease. If so, the appointment must be rescheduled for 14 days later.
If there are other concerns or questions regarding home visits, staff are asked to direct the question to their Supervisor. Health authorities will be asked for their guidance.
Skype, Facetime, Conference Calls and other tools will be considered by staff with Supervisor approval with the understanding that HIPAA requirements will need to be followed.
Staff of SCBDD are fortunate that travel to other states or countries is not necessary. We will encourage staff and supervisors to use their judgment related to professional development conferences and we will discourage travel outside of the county for the immediate future.
Technology is a tool that will assist with business continuity, if necessary.
Contact the individual or family that you are meeting with to verify that they are not experiencing flu-like symptoms or was recently diagnosed with the flu or other contagious disease.
Signs will be posted throughout the buildings to remind visitors to use hand sanitizer and to wash their hands.
Following all meetings, the staff who coordinated the meeting is responsible for wiping down all tables, chair arms, door knobs and another surface that may have been used with disinfecting wipes. This is to be done following all meetings.
Recognizing that this situation is evolving, guidelines cannot cover every possibility. Individual circumstances and decisions will be required by individuals, staff and supervisors. We ask for everyone to continue to consider others and especially those we serve when making decisions that are in the best interest. Basic common sense is generally our best guide.
In addition to the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities webpage (www.shelbydd.org), which has a link to our Health Department page on the Coronavirus, additional information can be found on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/COVID19.
As advised by our Health Department, it is important that we do not panic or create panic in those we serve. At the same time, we want people to be informed. For direct factual information or assurances, the Ohio Department of Health can be contacted at 1-833-427-5634 anytime between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
We appreciate the good work of our County and State Health Departments and our staff as we continue our efforts to promote safe, preventable measurers for those we serve and ourselves. We will continue to monitor and advise accordingly if different measures are needed. We will also appreciate any additional advice or measures that can be considered.
Leigh Anne Wenning
Champaign County Board of DD
Shelby County Board of DD