Precautions and Safety

Feb 12 2020

Precautions and Safety

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.


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

Update 2-5-21: 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.

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.

Update 11-19-2020 – Around the country, we are seeing increases in Coronavirus cases, and in the tri-state region, we are seeing an uptick in cases. As cases rise in the State, Governor Cuomo’s Cluster Action Initiative will divide clusters (COVID-19 hot spots) and the areas around them into three categories with successively higher restrictions within each one: Red Zone – cluster Itself; Orange Zone – warning zone; and Yellow Zone – precautionary zone.

Effective November 19, certain areas in the communities of New Rochelle, Ossining, Tarrytown, Yonkers, and Peekskill have been designated YELLOW ZONES.  This is a precautionary zone that is following specific guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus in the communities. Click on the button below to view specific addresses.

Effective November 16, the City of Mount Vernon issued a stay-at-home advisory. While this is not mandatory, we are adopting the suggestion to limit travel to essential outings only and ensuring our homes avoid the area for non-essential travel.  Mount Vernon residents are urged to get tested at local medical facilities.

Port Chester along the Connecticut border including areas of Rye Brook has been designated an ORANGE ZONE which is categorized as a warning zone.  Many new restrictions including public schools moving to full remote have been put in place.

We have a Day Services program site in Port Chester and are following all regulations and guidelines set forth by the state and OPWDD which includes suspending in-person services at that location.  If you live in the area and/or frequent locations in this designated zone, please stay vigilant, keep posted on the metrics of the Micro-Cluster areas, and take every precaution set forth by the Department of Health.  All reports indicate that we have entered yet another wave of the virus and we have the power to make careful decisions that can reduce the spread in our local communities.

Westchester County DOH and Open Door Family Medical Center have coordinated to provide rapid testing at 5 Grace Church Street in Port Chester. To make an appointment CLICK HERE  or call (914) 995-7425. To learn more about Governor Cuomo’s Micro Cluster Strategy and to check your address, click on the button below.

The Governor has also announced new guidelines to the TRAVEL ADVISORY to ensure successful containment of COVID-19 in New York. The Governor has stopped posting a quarantine list of states. Effective Wednesday, November 4, there will be one rule that applies across the country for non-essential workers.

  • Out-of-state travelers will now be allowed to “Test Out” of mandatory 14-day quarantines.
  • Travelers from Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont will continue to be exempt from the travel advisory; however, these travelers must still continue to fill out the Traveler Health Form.    View Interim Guidance→

For any traveler to New York State from out-of-state (excluding CT, NJ, PA, MA & VT), the new guidelines for non-essential travelers to test-out of the mandatory 14-day quarantine are as follows:

For travelers who were in another state for more than 24 hours:

  • Travelers must obtain a test within three days of departure from that state.
  • The traveler must, upon arrival in New York, quarantine for three days.
  • On day 4 of their quarantine, the traveler must obtain another COVID test. If both tests come back negative, the traveler may exit quarantine early upon receipt of the second negative diagnostic test.

For travelers who were in another state for less than 24 hours:

  • The traveler does not need a test prior to their departure from the other state, and does not need to quarantine upon arrival in New York State.
  • The traveler must fill out the traveler information form upon entry into New York State, and take a COVID test 4 days after their arrival in New York.

Additionally, the Governor has requested that people avoid non-essential tristate travel, and warnings have been issued against holiday travel.

The Arc Westchester’s OPWDD programs have been designated as Essential Services. Essential workers are exempt from Mandatory Quarantine (as they were before), however, if any of our staff have out-of-state travel plans, they will alert their direct supervisor immediately as to their destination. Essential workers continue to report to work and do not quarantine themselves from work. Essential workers returning from out of state should still get a COVID test as outlined above.

To ensure the health of all our community, we need to make sure that all infection control guidelines are followed when returning from another state. Ongoing cooperation is needed as we all continue to live in a COVID-19 environment.

Click the button below to view zoned maps and enter your address to see if you live in one of the designated areas. We are monitoring this closely and are working diligently to implement plans that will ensure the safety of the individuals we support, our staff, families, and the community.

Update 6-26-20: Since we are an essential provider, and we have been operating during this time, as a result, we are not listed in the regional opening plan and there is no current change in how we are operating during this crisis. We are continuing our shelter in place mandates and are awaiting guidance from The Department of Health and OPWDD as to when we can resume some of our services and what restrictions we will need to put in place when we open. Our management team has started to develop a strategic plan mapping out the months ahead and a detailed plan for resuming some of our support services. We are all anxious to get back to our regular routines, but our priority is always the safety and health of our workforce and the individuals we support.

Update 5-15-20: The Arc Westchester is constantly monitoring information and guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York Department of Health (DOH), and working directly with The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and The Arc New York to address safety protocols specific to our field and the people we support.

We request all of us to remain vigilant in following the latest executive order extending a stay in place until May 15 set forth by Office of the Governor:

  1. Wear masks and gloves whenever you are out of your home, traveling or engaging in necessary activities
  2. Continue infection control protocol like hand-washing with soap and water frequently

Definition of face covering:  Face coverings include, but are not limited to, cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N-95 respirators, and face shields.

We have taken ALL steps to keep our community safe. Deep sanitizing has taken place and continues to take place daily using CDC/EPA approved products, sanitizing of the common areas and offices at ALL Arc Westchester locations. Hand sanitizer is available immediately upon entering any of our locations. We have provided visual signs to instruct visitors of our required protocols. 00

We are limiting the number of employees entering our building. They are required to enter a security code.  In accordance with requirements from regulatory agencies and public health experts we are screening all visitors, including vendors, who need to enter any of our buildings for any purpose. Visitors will need to respond to the following three questions prior to being given entry:

  1. Have you traveled to another country in recent weeks? Which country?
  2. To your knowledge, have you had contact with any Person Under Investigation for Coronavirus within the last 14 days, or with anyone known to have coronavirus?
  3. Do you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection (e.g., cough, sore throat, fever, or shortness of breath)?

If any visitor answers “YES” to any of the questions, they will not be granted entry. We are requesting all screened visitors and staff entering one of our building sites to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer upon arrival.

Please be mindful of the following precautions, recommended by the New York State Department of Health to minimize contracting the virus which are very similar to the usual steps we take to avoid the cold and flu:

  1. Stay home if you are sick. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing — do not use your hands.
  3. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  4. Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.
  5. Do not shake hands. Instead, wave or elbow bump.
  6. If you have family or friends who are elderly, have compromised immune systems or chronic respiratory or coronary issues, do not visit them if you feel sick. Stay home and keep your loved ones safe.
  7. Consider telecommuting.
  8. Consider staggering working hours if you must go to work.
  9. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or disinfecting wipes.
  10. Get your flu shot. Although the flu shot will not protect you from COVID-19, it will help prevent the flu which has similar symptoms to this coronavirus.
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