Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Sep 26 2022

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Updated September 26, 2022

We have experienced the relaxation of precautions locally and nationally. Recently, we received guidance from OPWDD that universal mask wearing is now optional for most of our staff and the people we support.

We comply with these new guidelines and have ended mask-wearing requirements at most of our locations on Monday, September 26th. Please be assured that mask-wearing is still required after COVID-19 positive exposure and for confirmed COVID-19 positive cases. It is noteworthy to mention that we continue to track all cases of the virus and are pleased to report that cases of COVID-19 have dropped significantly for both staff and the individuals we support.

As recommended by OPWDD, we will continue to strongly review and, as necessary, strengthen all health and safety measures to compensate for the end of universal masking. These include promoting boosters, encouraging COVID testing and social distancing, cleaning, and disinfection, excluding sick individuals from programs, and proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Masks are encouraged for anyone who wishes to wear one.


Updated May 12, 2022

Many restrictions have been lifted throughout the state and we continue to wait for guidance from OPWDD regarding additional changes to policies we are currently required to follow. The safety protocols that we have put in place throughout the agency are still being followed, (including the wearing of masks) on a daily basis to ensure the continued safety of individuals we support and our staff.

So much progress has taken place over the past year. We are proud to say we have a 94% vaccination rate among our program participants and staff and vaccination is a requirement among our workforce.  If a staff member has an approved exemption, weekly testing still takes place.

Updated March 23, 2022

We wish to inform Families and Residential Providers that as the COVID-19 infection rate continues to go down paired with the high vaccination rate, we will no longer be conducting health checks upon entry to the program. Beginning March 28, 2022, we are asking that health checks are done at home prior to attending the program each day. Click here to read details >

Updated January 31, 2022:

We end the first month of 2022 with the hope that the worst of the COVID-19 recent surge is behind us. Considering that other variants are likely to follow, The Arc Westchester will implement a COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Policy for all our employees effective March 23, 2022.  Even though the Supreme Court recently blocked vaccine mandates for large employers, we recognize the approved vaccination requirement for health care workers and facilities that receive federal funds.

Why are we making this a requirement for our staff?

  • We gathered internal data showing that unvaccinated staff had a higher rate of hospitalization, illness and absenteeism compared to those who are vaccinated.
  • Our decision aligns with The Arc Westchester mission and core values of promoting health and ensuring safety.
  • The continuity to provide services is key to accomplishing our mission.
  • We take pride in being part of a unified community, and this decision is driven by our lifelong commitment to provide services supporting your family member.

If an employee is approved for a religious or medical exemption, they will be subject to weekly testing. While we encourage vaccination for all individuals receiving services, this mandate is a requirement for Arc Westchester employees only. Face coverings will continue to be required, regardless of vaccination status.

We are confident that our dedicated staff will comply with this requirement, and we are encouraged with the high number of staff who have already received the vaccine and booster. I hope this announcement will provide a level of reassurance that we are taking every step to keep the people we support healthy and safe.

Update December 20, 2021:

The success of the vaccines and boosters  has been effective in reducing serious complications. However, we must remain vigilant as a winter surge of the Delta variant is now underway, and a new variant of concern, Omicron, appears to be spreading. The health and safety of the people we support, and our staff, is our highest priority. The Arc Westchester is committed to follow all safety practices that help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The introduction of booster vaccines is an added protection against the spread of the virus, but we ask that our staff and families continue to remain vigilant as they gather in large groups over this holiday season. Especially with the emergence of the Omicron Variant.

We are continuing our efforts to encourage vaccination and booster shots of all staff and individuals that are able to. In the face of both the Delta and Omicron variant strain of COVID-19, The Arc Westchester took action this summer to firm up our safety protocols for all of our locations, regardless of vaccination status.

Update July 26, 2021:

The new Delta variant is proving to be a very contagious strain of COVID-19. We are seeing numbers of infections and hospitalizations increasing, particularly among those who are not vaccinated. We continue to encourage everyone to be vaccinated. The health and safety of the people we support, their families and staff is our highest priority. Due to the concerns over this new variant, it is necessary for us to reinstate our mask-wearing requirement at all of our locations

What does this mean for you and your family member?
Effective Wednesday, July 28, 2021:

  •  All vaccinated and unvaccinated staff will resume wearing masks in the workplace and in our residences.
  • Staff and all residents and program participants will be required to wear masks, to the extent they can medically tolerate one, regardless of vaccination status when in transportation vehicles.
  •  The transportation capacity for vaccinated individuals is 100%. However, if ONE person is not vaccinated, then the transportation capacity returns to 50%
  • Visitors to all locations must wear masks and will continue to be screened prior to entry.

We continue to practice ongoing cleaning and disinfecting consistent with CDC guidelines. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask your staff representative or email me at

Update – July 7, 2021

The State of Emergency declared by Governor Andrew Cuomo, was allowed to expire and most COVID-19 restrictions will also be lifted throughout the State of New York.

In response to the above, OPWDD, our regulators, has moved forward with reducing restrictions, allowing providers to operate programs at full capacity to the extent possible. we are happy to report consistent with CDC guidance, fully vaccinated people are no longer required to wear masks or maintain social distance in most places within NYS, including The Arc Westchester services within OPWDD certified, operated facilities and programs.

What does this mean for you and your family member?

  • Fully vaccinated staff and all residents and program participants who have submitted their vaccination status are no longer required to wear masks in the workplace, including certified sites. The Arc Westchester is collecting and tracking vaccination status to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • Staff and all residents and program participants will be required to wear masks, to the extent they can medically tolerate one, regardless of vaccination status when in vehicles.
  • Transportation restrictions have been lifted for fully vaccinated people. However, at this time, if ONE person is not vaccinated, then the transportation capacity remains at 50%.
  • Staff and all residents and program participants who are unvaccinated are required to wear masks.
  • Unvaccinated visitors to certified sites must continue to wear masks, use hand sanitizer, and maintain social distance to the extent possible for the duration of the visit.

Thank you for your continued cooperation and resilience during these past sixteen months. We continue to encourage all staff, people we support, and their families to become fully vaccinated to protect everyone at The Arc Westchester and their communities. We will also continue to practice ongoing cleaning and disinfecting consistent with CDC guidelines. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask your staff representative or email us at

Update – June 15, 2021

On June 15th, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the State’s COVID-19 Restrictions and New York Forward Industry Guidance Lifted Across Commercial Settings. This means fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physical distance in any setting, EXCEPT where required. The exceptions to this ruling are Pre-K to 12 Schools, Public Transit, Homeless Shelters, Correctional Facilities, Nursing Homes and Health Care Settings and including The Arc Westchester until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

The Arc Westchester falls under the regulations of The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and The State Education Department. Mask wearing and social distance rulings are still in effect at The Arc Westchester. Masks and social distancing continue at ALL of our locations including residences, facilities, agency vehicles, common areas of offices areas, etc.

Update – May 18, 2021

Effective Wednesday, May 19, New York State will adopt the CDC’s public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people in most businesses and public settings. This means fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physical distance in any setting, EXCEPT where required. The exceptions to this ruling are Pre-K to 12 Schools, Public Transit, Homeless Shelters, Correctional Facilities, Nursing Homes and Health Care Settings and including The Arc Westchester until more New Yorkers are fully vaccinated.

The Arc Westchester  falls under the regulations of The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and The State Education Department. Mask wearing and social distance rulings are still in effect at The Arc Westchester. Masks and social distancing continue at ALL of our locations including residences, facilities, agency vehicles,  common areas of offices areas, etc.

Update- May 4, 2021

  1. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will Lift Most Industry Capacity Restrictions Beginning May 19 Given Vaccination Progress and COVID-19 Case Decline
  2. Business Capacity Limits to Be Replaced with Space Available to Maintain Six Feet of Social Distancing on May 19 in New York and New Jersey
  3. Outdoor Social Gathering Limit Increases to 500 on May 10 in New York; Indoor Social Gathering Limit Increases to 250 on May 19 in New York
  4. Outdoor Residential Gathering Limit is Removed and Indoor Residential Gathering Limit Increases to 50 on May 19 in New York
  5. Large-Scale Indoor Venue Capacity Increases to 30% and Large-Scale Outdoor Venue Capacity Increases to 33% on May 19, Proof of Vaccination or Recent Negative Test Still Required in New York

Update – April 23, 2021

Appointments are available for Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday at Westchester Community College in Valhalla.

You must be 18 years of age or older to receive the Moderna vaccine, and must also be able to return to WCC 28 days after your first dose to receive a second dose.
Click on the hyperlinks below to schedule:

To assist residents with getting vaccinated, the Westchester County Department of Health has been regularly posting links on its website for vaccine clinics.  If you need assistance registering, please call 914-995-7425.

Update – April 13, 2021
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker issued a statement regarding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, following the CDC and the FDA recommending a pause in the use of the J&J vaccine out of an abundance of caution. New York State will follow this recommendation and pause the use of the J&J vaccine statewide immediately today (April 13) while these health and safety agencies evaluate next steps. All appointments scheduled for April 13 for the J&J vaccine at State mass vaccination sites will be honored with the Pfizer vaccine. Read the full statement.

View NEW YORK STATE COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker

UPDATE March 29, 2021 : Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a new expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in New York. Beginning Tuesday, March 30, all New Yorkers 30 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Beginning April 6, universal eligibility goes into effect and all New Yorkers 16 years of age and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine.

Additionally, the Governor announced more than 2 million total COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered at New York State-run and FEMA-assisted mass vaccination sites. Statewide, more than 9 million total doses have been administered across all vaccination sites. 171,419 doses have been administered across the state’s vast distribution network in the last 24 hours, and more than 1.3 million doses have been administered over the past seven days. Delivery of the week 16 allocation begins mid-week.

UPDATE March 10,2021:  Governor Cuomo announced the eligibility of the COVID-19 vaccine for New Yorkers 60 Years and older beginning March 10.

Vaccine Distribution Eligibility Expanded; All Providers Except Pharmacies Can Now Vaccinate Any Eligible New Yorker Starting March 17; Pharmacies Can Vaccinate 60-plus and Teachers Per Federal Guidance Starting March 10

Beginning March 17, 2021 the following essential workers will now be eligible to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine:

  1. Public-facing government and public employees
  2. Not-for-profit workers who provide public-facing services to New Yorkers in need
  3. Essential in-person public-facing building service workers

This includes workers such as public works employees, social service and child service caseworkers, government inspectors, sanitation workers, DMV workers, County Clerks, building service workers and election workers – the everyday heroes who have been showing up day in and day out throughout this pandemic.

New Yorkers Can Make Appointments at State-Run Vaccination Sites by Utilizing New York’s ‘Am I Eligible’ Tool or Calling 1-833-NYS-4-VAX


UPDATE February 12, 2021:  We all welcomed the recent news by Governor Cuomo announcing the eligibility of the COVID-19 vaccine for people with comorbidities, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I wish to share some information that may assist with vaccine location options for your family member.

  1. WIHD (Westchester Institute for Human Development), located on the Westchester Medical Center Campus in Valhalla, has been identified as a certified vaccine distribution location.
  2. Anyone with I/DD, regardless of where they live, is eligible to receive the vaccine as of February 15, 2021.
  3. You can sign up on WIHD’s website to be notified when a vaccine appointment will be available.
  4. When filling out their sign up form, be sure to select “People With Underlying Conditions” in the drop-down menu.
  5. Due to vaccine shortages, if you have an appointment elsewhere, it is recommended you keep it.
  6. On February 15 you will also be able to register at any other location in New York State for the vaccine. Go to the NYS website for locations near you and read important vaccine instructions. Please note that The Arc Westchester locations are not allowed to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.

We are all making important steps together to combat COVID-19 by increasing the availability of the vaccine to more people in our communities. We are grateful to WIHD for this opportunity. Please feel free to share any comments or questions you may have by clicking here. Thank you for your ongoing advocacy and support.

Update: February 5, 2021: GREAT NEWS! The Governor’s Office has announced that ALL Individuals with I/DD in New York State will be eligible for vaccinations BEGINNING ON February 15, 2021. This announcement means that ALL the people we support will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in just 10 days.

The full announcement from the Governor’s office can be found here. Please read this announcement carefully as it shares comorbidities and underlying conditions that New York State will use to determine eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine. We have fought hard to ensure priority access to the vaccine for all people we support. This is a huge victory.

At this time, we are still facing challenges with vaccine supply and appointment availability, but I am hopeful that will also work out. Please be advised that The Arc Westchester is unable to provide the vaccine, and we do not have any additional information on available locations.

We thank everyone for all the advocacy and support as we continue to make a difference in the lives of the individuals we support and our dedicated workforce. We all know that the vaccine is our best defense in combating COVID-19 and saving lives.

The COVID-19 vaccine is HERE! We are so proud that The Arc Westchester has already successfully vaccinated over 150 individuals and staff.  The Arc Westchester was among the first of The Arc New York chapters to receive Phase 1A of the vaccine on December 29, 2020. Additional phases are rolling out and plans are underway to make the vaccine available to all of our residents, individuals we support, and staff when allowed.  We will keep you posted when we receive more information. Please click here to learn how you can help advocate to increase vaccine availability to all people with developmental disabilities in New York State.

The scientific research suggests that the vaccine is safe and is critical in stopping the devastating effects of COVID-19.  It is our single best solution to improving the health crisis, and returning back to our previous and full time way of delivering services. We highly encourage families and caregivers to learn more about the benefits of receiving the vaccination.

The Arc Westchester has launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Education Plan to share information to our staff about the benefits of receiving the vaccine.  Watch our video and hear from one of our first vaccine recipients as she shares her personal remarks about the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine is available to more of our community, however, we must continue to practice all safety protocols to ensure the health and safety of the individuals we support, our staff, and the community.  We hope you will take advantage of the variety of innovative services whether in-person or remote to keep your family member happy, safe, and engaged.  Please feel free to reach out to us for more information and thank you for your ongoing trust and support.

Congratulations to our first COVID-19 recipients!

Update 1-28-2021: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has lifted micro-cluster zone restrictions for all of the state’s 26 orange and yellow zones except for five, citing ongoing declines in positivity and hospitalization rates across the board. He is not tweaking New York City’s indoor dining ban just yet, calling that an ongoing and “city-specific” issue.  Lifting most of state’s color-coded micro-cluster zones, which apply varying rules to schools, businesses, mass gatherings and houses of worship based on risk and haven’t been changed in more than a month, is a significant step forward.


FREE COVID-19 TESTING available for ESSENTIAL HEALTHCARE WORKERS in New York State through the NYS DOH. You can make an appointment to be tested at one of several drive through or walk in testing sites by calling the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or online at

Below you will find some of our reopening plans to programs and services as we gradually reopen our in-person services. We understand that this is a stressful situation, filled with much waiting and uncertainty. We hope that our continued communication and transparency helps to keep us all grounded and safe during this difficult time. Please follow the links below that we update regularly. Together, we will get through this. Together, we are stronger!

As many people in the United States begin to plan for fall and winter holiday celebrations and family gatherings, the CDC offers the following considerations to help protect individuals and their families, friends, and communities from COVID-19.

Click here →

Our 2019 Annual Report is a special edition celebrating the outstanding staff and direct support professionals (DSPs) who have been going above and beyond to ensure the health and safety of our individuals during COVID-19.

As we emerge from lockdown and work our way through the various stages of reopening, we remain thankful for their dedication, flexibility and unwavering commitment to those we support. Read report here →

The Arc Westchester Family suffered the loss of some very special people from  COVID-19. We pay tribute to those we lost during this difficult time. They will be always be in our hearts.

COVID Tribute

The CDC recommends that you wear masks in public settings around people who don’t live in your household and when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others.  Click here to read how to select, wear and clean your mask.  →

To help understand Coronavirus (COVID-19) in simpler terms, check out this COVID-19 Plain Language Flyer .

This flyer was provided by the New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

I want to share with you the impact that Coronavirus is having on all of us at The Arc Westchester. We are experiencing one of the most difficult times our organization has ever been through in our 70-year history. With all of your help and support, we will get through this and all of us will be stronger because of it.

As a reminder, all family members and employees of The Arc Westchester who are ill should refrain from visiting an Arc Westchester location or any public location in the community as directed by the New York State Health Department.

The Arc Westchester is prepared to take any necessary steps as additional information comes to us from local officials.  Please reach out to your staff contact at The Arc Westchester with questions pertaining to you or your loved one or visit our contact page and send us a note. We welcome your comments and suggestions. You will also find links on our website to articles of interestresources and learning activities and our AT HOME series of our amazing staff and how they are keeping individuals engaged during this pandemic.

Make a gift and replenish funds for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our front-line staff.

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