Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Graphic of the coronavirus molecule

As guidance is updated, ACL will post or link to it on this page and share it through the ACL Updates email service.

If you need help finding services in your community, visit the Eldercare Locator web page or call 1-800-677-1116.

 

 

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What do Older Adults and People with Disabilities Need to Know?

Your risk of serious COVID-19 illness may be increased

People who are 65 or older are more likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. In addition, regardless of age or disability, people are at increased risk if they have serious underlying health conditions or live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. It is particularly important for you to avoid exposure and to be aware of the symptoms and emergency warning signings.  Not sure whether you should seek medical attention?  CDC's COVID-19 home page includes a Self-Checker tool to help you make decisions. 

Read more

People who are 65 or older are more likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. This may be because immune systems change with age, making it harder to fight off diseases and infection. Older adults also are more likely to have underlying health conditions that make it harder to cope with and recover from illness.

Some health conditions that can increase your risk:

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate-to-severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • Liver disease
  • Conditions that cause a person to be immunocompromised. These include smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications including people receiving cancer treatment.

Watch for symptoms and emergency warning signs

COVID-19 symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, or at least two of the following:

  • fever
  • chills
  • repeated shaking with chills
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • new loss of taste or smell

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. These include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all inclusive. Consult your medical provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning.

Stay safe -- and protect others!

There is no vaccine for COVID-19. Everyone, regardless of age or disability, should follow CDC's recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus.

How to prevent exposure

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are within about 6 feet of each other. Respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. It is possible that these droplets may also be inhaled into the lungs. Learn more about how the virus spreads.

  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Keep your distance! Stay at least six feet away from others when you must leave home
  • Cover your mouth and nose! CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). CDC has instructions for making your own and in this video, Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S Surgeon General, shows you how.
    • Important note: Surgical masks and N-95 respirators are NOT recommended. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid touching surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, etc. Cover your hand if you must touch something.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Clean and disinfect your home regularly, especially frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones, as well as visibly dirty surfaces. The virus that causes COVID-19 may survive for hours or days on a variety of surfaces. 
  • Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships.
  • Stay home when you are sick, and avoid close contact with people who are sick. Comply with local social distancing recommendations!
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • There are many ways you can safely help during the COVID-19 emergency. FEMA has some suggestions here.
President's Coronavirus Guidelines for America

On 3/16/20, President Trump announced The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America. These are:

  1. Listen to and follow the directions of your state and local authorities.
  2. If you feel sick, stay home. Do not go to work. Contact your medical provider.
  3. If your children are sick, keep them at home.  Do not send them to school.  Contact your medical provider. 
  4. If someone in your household has tested positive for the coronavirus, keep the entire household at home.  Do not go to work.  Do not go to school.  Contact your medical provider. 
  5. If you are an older person, stay home and away from other people. 
  6. If you are a person with a serious underlying health condition that can put you at increased risk (for example, a condition that impairs your lung or heart function or weakens your immune system), stay home and away from other people.
  7. Even if you are young, or otherwise healthy, you are at risk and your activities can increase the risk for others. It is critical that you do your part to stop the spread of the coronavirus:
    • Work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible.
    • If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule.  You and your employers should follow CDC guidance to protect your health at work.
    • Avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.
    • Avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants, and food courts – use drive-thru, pickup, or delivery options.
    • Avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips, and social visits.
    • Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.
  8. Practice good hygiene:
    • Wash your hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface
    • Avoid touching your face.
    • Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow.
    • Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.

* School operations can accelerate the spread of the coronavirus. Governors of states with evidence of community transmission should close schools in affected and surrounding areas. Governors should close schools in communities that are near areas of community transmission, even if those areas are in neighboring states.  In addition, state and local officials should close schools where coronavirus has been identified in the population associated with the school.  States and localities that close schools need to address childcare needs of critical responders, as well as the nutritional needs of children.

 ** Older people are particularly at risk from the coronavirus.  All states should follow Federal guidance and halt social visits to nursing homes and retirement and long-term care facilities.

 *** In states with evidence of community transmission, bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where groups of people congregate should be closed.

CDC's guidance for specific populations

Guidance for people who are at higher risk for severe illness. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Guidance for older adults about their potential risks during the pandemic, symptoms, developing a care plan, and more.

Guidance for people with disabilities - addresses potential risks during the pandemic, how people with disabilities can protect themselves, and how to prepare.

For people with disabilities or medical conditions 

There are some additional things people with disabilities can do to prepare during the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Plan what you will do if you or your direct support provider get sick. Create a contact list of family, friends, neighbors, and local service agencies that can provide support in case you or your direct support provider become ill or unavailable.
  • Plan at least two ways of communicating from home and work that can be used rapidly in an emergency (e.g., landline phone, cell phone, text-messaging, email). Write down this information and keep it with you.
  • Have enough household items and groceries so that you will be comfortable staying home for a few weeks, at least a 30-day supply of over the counter and prescription medicines, and any medical equipment or supplies that you might need. Some health plans allow for a 90-day refill on prescription medications. Consider discussing this option with your healthcare provider. Make a photocopy of prescriptions, as this may help in obtaining medications in an emergency situation.

Stay Connected and Engaged

Staying at home and social distancing are critical to avoiding exposure to the virus, but social isolation and loneliness can be a devastating result. In fact, a recent study showed that they can be as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.  There are many ways to stay engaged, active and connected--both with and without technology. These resources can help you get started. (Some of them were created with older adults in mind, but the suggestions and resources they offer are good for people of any age.)

Engage Virtually - Ideas from ACL

Created as part of our celebration of Older Americans Month, this tip sheet provides ideas for socializing and exploring the world through technology, as well as some low-tech suggestions. 

Avoiding social isolation and managing anxiety (from AARP)  

These guidelines from our partners at the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response include this great list of suggestions by AARP:

  • Develop a plan to connect with family, friends or loved ones: Talk to family and friends to develop a plan to safely stay in touch during social distancing. This is especially important for people living alone.
  • Limit news consumption: Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Care for living things: Caring for pets or plants provides a sense of purpose and improved health.
  • Take care of your bodyPhysical activity such as walking or light stretching helps calm tension; eat healthy, well-balanced meals, and avoid alcohol and drug abuse. It is also important to get adequate sleep.
  • Listen to music, find activities that bring joy: Beyond the music and activities available in the common living area shared by residents there are music events and activities online, such as free livestreamed concerts. National Public Radio is maintaining a list of Live Virtual Concerts.
  • Keep your mind active: Completing puzzles (e.g., jigsaw, crossword, sudoku), reading, and engaging in art projects helps to keep the mind occupied and can improve cognitive functioning.
  • Use calming techniques: Such as deep breathing, stretching, meditation, prayer, taking a warm bath or shower, or sitting with a pet.
  • Find ways to laugh: Watch a TV show, or chat with a friend or family member who brings joy.
  • Create short personal videos that can be shared between family and loved ones.

Staying Connected at Home - A Resource from the Eldercare Locator and engAGED

ACL's Eldercare Locator and engAGED: The National Resource Center for Engaging Older Adults, which are both funded by ACL and administered by n4a put together these suggestions for how older adults -- and people of any age -- can prevent social isolation and loneliness while staying safe. 

Feeling Good and Staying Connected - An Activity Guide

This activity guide from the California Department of Aging has ideas that can help people of any age stay engaged. Now might be a great time to pick up that hobby you had in childhood, for example. 

Tips for connecting while social distancing

The Humanitarian Disaster Institute, a faith-based academic disaster research center at Wheaton College, has suggestions for connecting  while social distancing guidelines are in place.

Get smart on technology
Video and digital communication - Comparing tools, ensuring, usability/accessibility
  • ODEP's Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) published a "How to Pick an Accessible Virtual Meeting Platform" tip sheet. This resource provides best practices on the process of ensuring that employers' meeting platforms support full accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • Disability:IN has developed a resource page on digital accessibility and other best practices for remote work.
  • Rooted in Rights offers tips for making virtual meeting more accessible for people with disabilities.
  • "The Big Hack," a project of the British non-profit Scope, provides an overview of accessibility features found in various video conferencing apps.
  • The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has developed a detailed overview of remote video communication options titled, Tools for Reaching a Remote Audience. NCOA provides pros and cons for each tool, including Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and several others. Links to additional information are included in the document. This resource is a convenient first stop for people wanting to connect to each other remotely and also includes information about tools that can be used for meetings and presentations.

Follow your state's guidance

Decisions about community measures will be made by local and state officials, in consultation with federal officials as appropriate,  based on the scope of the outbreak and the severity of illness.  It's important for everyone to pay close attention to information and instructions published by states. 

Links to state resources

For the Aging and Disability Networks

The links and resources in this section are available to anyone, but they are specifically intended for  organizations that serve older adults and people with disabilities, particularly those who receive funding from ACL. 

Calls for Nominations

Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes

At the request of CMS, MITRE is convening an independent Commission that will conduct a comprehensive assessment of the nursing home response to the COVID-19 pandemic.This assessment will inform efforts to safeguard the health and quality of life of vulnerable Americans as CMS continues to battle COVID-19, as well as prepare for future threats to resident safety and public health.

The Commission will virtually convene at the beginning of June and may convene 2-3 additional times during the summer. Its work is expected to be completed by September 1, 2020.

New! National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters

The National Advisory Committee on Children & Disasters (NACCD) is seeking new members to advise Department of Health and Human Services leaders on ways to enhance medical care, behavioral health, and public health for children during and after disasters and emergencies like COVID-19.

The application period is from midnight (Eastern Time) May 27 to June 27, 2020.

If interested, please review the Federal Register announcement. HHS would like to hear from anyone who feels they would be an excellent applicant for the Committee.  A brief YouTube video is available and outlines the opportunity to serve as a voting member of the Committee.  Additional information, and a link to past documents from the NACCD and the application for committee members, is on the ASPR website.

For further information, please contact: Maxine Kellman, DVM, Ph.D., PMP, Alternate Designated Federal Official for National Advisory Committees, Washington, D.C. Call (202) 260-0447 or email maxine.kellman@hhs.gov.

Resources for Reopening

Reopening timelines and progress will be different from state to state, and one size won’t fit all, but in this section, we'll share guidelines and information to help as your state establishes its “new normal."

From ACL: Reopening Guidelines for Senior Nutrition Programs

Developed as a collaborative effort between the National Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging, National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services, National Council on Aging, and ACL, the Reopening Guidelines for Senior Nutrition Programs offers suggestions for senior nutrition programs to consider as their states move through the phases of reopening.  

President Trump's Guidelines for Opening Up America Again

Released on April 16, 2020, the Guidelines for Opening Up America Again are a three-phased approach to help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives.

From CDC

CDC has created a central repository of guidelines, tools, and resources for states, tribes, localities, and territories. In order to get and keep America open, states, tribes, localities, and territories must be able to quickly identify new cases, break chains of transmission, and protect first responders and health care workers from infection.

On that page, you'll find CDC activities and initiatives supporting COVID-19 response and reopening

From FEMA

FEMA released the following guidance document on 30 April 2020: Planning Considerations for Organizations in Reconstituting Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic. FEMA states that the fact sheet builds upon the White House guidelines for Opening Up America Again by providing further reconstitution planning recommendations for state, local, tribal, territorial and private sector stakeholders.

From CMS

CMS released guidance for states and local officials to ensure safe reopening of nursing homes across the country. The guidance details critical steps nursing homes and communities should take prior to relaxing restrictions implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including rigorous infection prevention and control, adequate testing, and surveillance. The vulnerable nature of the nursing home population requires aggressive efforts to limit COVID-19 exposure and to prevent the spread within facilities. The recommendations issued today would allow states to make sure nursing homes are continuing to take the appropriate and necessary steps to ensure resident safety and are opening their doors when the time is right. This also serves to help states and nursing homes reunite families with their loved ones in a safe, phased manner. CMS is recommending that nursing homes do not advance through any phases of reopening or relax any restrictions until all residents and staff have received results from a baseline test.  In addition, CMS recommends that state survey agencies inspect nursing homes that experienced a significant COVID-19 outbreak prior to reopening. Finally, CMS recommends that nursing homes remain in the current state of highest restriction even when a community begins to relax restrictions for other businesses, and should be among the last to reopen within the community, to ensure safety of the residents.  

Promising Practices - Highlights from the network

Check back soon -- we're still adding info!

There isn't enough space to list all of the outstanding examples of how the aging and disability networks are adapting and innovating to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities, but this is a small sampling of some of them.

Addressing social isolation - from ADvancing States 
  • ADvancing States published this resource to assist states and others with creative and thoughtful approaches to social isolation and loneliness in older adults, and to also facilitate sharing and learning across states. It includes a collection of ideas and actions from across the country. 
Examples from Area Agencies on Aging and OAA Title VI programs - from n4a 

n4a has compiled a wide range of examples of how area agencies on aging Older Americans Act Title VI programs are adjusting existing programs and services--and launching new ones--to continue to safely serve older adults, people with disabilities and families and caregivers throughout the COVID-19 crisis.  

Food insecurity and hunger
  • Every Tuesday, the ONEgeneration COVID-19 Relief Drive Thru Food Pantry in Reseda, California, now provides food to hundreds of seniors and families.  Staff and volunteers provide no-contact, shelf stable foods as well as dairy and meat when available.
  • A partnership between locally-owned restaurants, private corporations, and leading non-profit agencies, Nevada’s Delivering with Dignity is bringing meals, snacks, and coffee directly to the doorsteps of some of vulnerable and isolated families and individuals. Launched in March in Las Vegas as an emergency response to coronavirus pandemic, Delivering with Dignity has recently expanded to Reno. In fewer than seven weeks, more than 50,000 meals have been delivered directly to residents. The program has also allowed two dozen food service workers to stay employed.
  • One of the centers for independent living that receives funding from ACL, Disability Network Wayne County Detroit, has partnered with other local community service organizations to deliver boxes of food to people with disabilities to help them safely stay at home. They also have partnered with local hospitals to provide free COVID-19 testing and follow-up services.
  • Michigan launched a statewide public-private initiative to provide “Quarantine Boxes,” or “Q-boxes” to older adults across the states. Each Q-box contains enough food to create 22 healthy meals for adults. The state unit on aging partnered with the Food Bank Council of Michigan and Gleaners Community Food Bank to purchase 10,000 Q-boxes and launched a virtual food drive so the public could contribute to provide more. The Q-boxes are distributed to older adults through the state’s 16 Area Agencies on Aging (often in partnership with other local community organizations, such as United Way).
  • The Midland Area Agency on Aging, located in Hastings, Nebraska, serves eight rural counties to the west of Lincoln. In the span of a few weeks they partnered with five local businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide seniors with 500 fruit/vegetable/bread baskets, 275 potato-themed food baskets, 350 grab-and-go baskets, and numerous meals from a local restaurant chain.
Checking in on older adults
  • With the closure of congregate meal sites in Vermont, the Thompson Senior Center decided to start making daily calls to their most isolated community members and weekly calls to many others. The calls revealed needs that seniors had, such as running out of groceries, prescriptions, and postage stamps, financial concerns, and help avoiding becoming the victims of scams. The Thompson Center volunteers took care of most issues, while the local police department stepped in to pick up and deliver prescriptions.
  • Maryland offers a free, opt-in, telephonic service to check on Maryland’s older residents, all across the state.​Every day, a telephone call will be placed to a participant at a regularly scheduled time. These calls will take place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. as close as possible to the one-hour time block pre-selected by the participant. If the participant does not answer their first call, they will be tried two more times. If those calls go unanswered, additional calls will be made to notify an alternative person who is selected by the participant during program enrollment. This could be an adult child, a neighbor, or another loved one. The alternate will then be encouraged to check on the older adult program participant. The failure of the participant and alternate to answer will result in a call to your local non-emergency service. 

  • The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) yesterday announced a free, daily check-in by phone service for Ohio’s older residents to ensure their well-being amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency and beyond. The program was announced during Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s daily news conference.The “Staying Connected” service is open to Ohio residents age 60 or older who have a valid phone number. Those living alone in the community are encouraged to consider enrolling. The automated service, which is available 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, contacts participants each day within a one-hour window selected by them during sign-up. After confirming the caller is OK, it offers to connect the caller with the local Area Agency on Aging for information about services or assistance. If a participant does not answer after three attempts, a call is placed to an alternate contact, if one is on file. After multiple failed attempts to reach the participant and the alternate contact, a call is placed to the non-emergency services line of the local sheriff’s office.

  • The Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging has developed Project HELLO, a volunteer effort to connect older adults who may be alone, and in need of socialization more than ever before. If you are an older adult who would like to receive calls from a Project HELLO volunteer, please contact the POINT, Rhode Island's Healthy Aging help desk, at 401-462-4444. Volunteers are equipped to provide you with information about Project HELLO and other resources that can help you meet your needs.

Guidance for ACL Programs

For recipients of discretionary grants 

This FAQ covers the COVID-19-related questions we are hearing most often from recipients of discretionary grants. 

Independent Living programs - Updated May 4

FAQs about Centers for Independent Living and COVID-19 Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES Act) Funding - Updated 5/4/2020

Older Americans Act programs - Updated May 20

For all programs 


Senior Nutrition Program


State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program


Title III Programs


Title VI Programs


Aging and Disability Resource Centers


Other Older Americans Act Programs

Assistive technology programs

FAQ: State Assistive Technology Programs

NIDILRR programs (Updated March 30)

Application of OMB Memo M-20-17 to NIDILRR Grants (March 30, 2020)

ACL Guidance on Reporting Requirements (Updated May 2, 2020)

Guidance from other federal programs

Update: Purchase/distribution of food as an Emergency Protective Measure under FEMA's Public Assistance Program 

Extensions now allowed for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency

On April 12, FEMA released a policy that authorized purchase and distribution of food as an Emergency Protective Measure. Under that policy, applicants could receive funding for an initial 30-day period and could request one 30-day extension. Depending on the time period for applicants requested reimbursement, eligibility under this policy for the initial 60 days could end as soon as May 13, 2020.

This policy was intended to allow FEMA to meet immediate needs, until other federal programs/funding became available. However, for a variety of reasons, including scale of need, it is likely that other federal programs will not be able to meet the needs of individuals coping with COVID-related food insecurity within the initial timeframe.

Therefore, Public Assistance has clarified that extensions beyond the initial 60 days are allowable (in increments of 30 days or fewer per extension) for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, if necessary.  

We'll post a link to the FEMA policy as soon as it's available. 

Read more: Extension Criteria 
  • The SLTT should collaborate with government stakeholders including ACL, state units on aging, area agencies on aging , regional and local Housing and Urban Development Public Housing Authority (HUD/PHA) , and USDA Food and Nutrition Service to understand what they are doing to address these needs and communicate assistance requirements.
  • The SLTT should also collaborate with non-governmental organizations including volunteer organizations, senior centers and adult day care, and service/volunteer organizations including Meals on Wheels, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, faith-based communities, and other organizations. Identify resources that might be applied or redirected to close gaps.
  • All efforts should be made to prioritize the most vulnerable populations, then register those needing assistance into these more traditional nutrition assistance programs, thereby further stabilizing the situation and ensuring FEMA eligibility.  Refer to these resources from the FEMA/HHS Community Mitigation Task Force: Sustaining Nutritional Needs for At-Risk Individuals and Information on Federal Programs to Sustain Nutrition for At-Risk Individuals 

While FEMA is coordinating with other partners to determine the appropriate level and source of support moving forward, it is very important that the SLTT work on transition plans that may be needed beyond additional extensions.


FEMA's Public Assistance Program supports communities’ recovery from major disasters by providing them with grant assistance for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures, and restoring public infrastructure. Under the President’s emergency declaration and subsequent major disaster declarations for COVID-19, state, local, tribal, and territorial government entities and certain private non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for assistance under the FEMA Public Assistance Program.

More from other federal agencies

CARES Act Assistance for Small Businesses (Includes non-profits)

Assistance for Small Businesses:

The Paycheck Protection Program ensures that small businesses can continue to pay employees and cover costs during this unprecedented health crisis. For up to eight weeks, this program can be used to cover the entire cost of payroll and other eligible expenses.

Private non-profit organizations are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program.

Resources from the Department of the Treasury:

Learn about other programs for small businesses.

CMS Guidance and Information:  Includes Nursing Homes Best Practices Toolkit,  telehealth flexibilities, HCBS waivers, nursing home visitation, & more 
  • Toolkit on State Actions to Mitigate COVID-19 Prevalence in Nursing Homes.  Developed to aid nursing homes, governors, states, departments of health, and other agencies who provide oversight and assistance to these facilities, with additional resources to aid in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic within nursing homes. It includes best practices from a variety of front line health care providers, governors’ COVID-19 task forces, associations and other organizations, and experts, and is intended to serve as a catalog of resources dedicated to addressing the specific challenges facing nursing homes. 

  • The Department of Health and Human Services has expanded telehealth access to combat COVID-19. For example:

    • Medicare beneficiaries can receive a wider range of services through telehealth. See the CMS press release and FAQ for more information.
    • A covered health care provider also may use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients. The HHS Office of Civil Rights will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the HIPAA Rules against covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. Details can be found in the OCR press release and this OCR bulletin.
    • The HHS Office of Inspector General provided flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive beneficiary cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal healthcare programs. See the OIG policy statement for more information.
    • CMS has created an electronic toolkit regarding telehealth and telemedicine for long-term care facilities. The toolkit includes electronic links to reliable sources of information regarding telehealth and telemedicine and information on choosing telemedicine vendors, equipment, and software; initiating a telemedicine program; monitoring patients remotely; and developing documentation tools. There is also information that will be useful for providers who intend to care for patients through electronic virtual services that may be temporarily used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Medicaid Telemedicine webpage (March 19, 2020)
    • Medicaid State Plan Fee-for-Service Payments for Services Delivered Via Telehealth (March 19, 2020)
  • CMS's COVID-19 web page includes a variety of resources for the networks:

  • CMS released guidance for states and local officials to ensure safe reopening of nursing homes across the country. The guidance details critical steps nursing homes and communities should take prior to relaxing restrictions implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including rigorous infection prevention and control, adequate testing, and surveillance.
  • On May 22, HHS began distributing nearly $5 billion to help nursing homes combat COVID-19.

More resources for organizations that serve older adults and people with disabilities

Webinars and teleconferences

Upcoming

New! The National Center on Law and Elder Rights is hosting a webinar titled: 

COVID-19 Medicare Enrollment Information Q &A on June 9, 2020 from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. EDT.

This webinar will answer your questions about how to assist older adult clients with the Special Equitable Relief and COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period. Please read the PRACTICE TIP (available on the NCLER website, under Resources) and send any questions you have to ConsultNCLER@acl.hhs.gov. These questions will be addressed during the live webinar, which will also be recorded and shared on the NCLER website.

Presenter Georgia Burke, Directing Attorney, Justice in Aging

ASA "Future Proof" Series 

ASA president and CEO Peter Kaldes is hosting a series of conference calls with leaders in the field to share their strategies for coping with the challenges brought about by COVID-19. Featured leaders include:
  • May 7: Paul Downey, President & CEO, Serving Seniors
  • May 14: Shireen McSpadden, Executive Director, San Francisco Department of Disability and Aging Services 
  • May 21: Jean Accius, Senior Vice President, Global Thought Leadership, AARP and Robert Espinoza, Vice President of Policy, PHI
  • May 28: Bob Blancato, President, Matz, Blancato & Associates
  • June 4: June Simmons, President & CEO, Partners in Care Foundation
  • June 10: Michael Adams, CEO, SAGE
  • June 18: John Feather, CEO, Grantmakers in Aging
  • June 25: Karyne Jones, President & CEO, National Caucus & Center on Black Aging, Inc.

Tackling High-Priority COVID-19 Challenges for Nursing Homes

Daily, 20-minute "National Nursing Home Huddles" weekdays at 12:00pm (noon) ET

​The Institute for Healthcare Improvement, with support from The John A. Hartford Foundation, is launching the COVID-19 Rapid Response Network for Nursing Homes to support nursing home leadership, staff, residents, families, and communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.The Rapid Response Network features a daily 20-minute National Nursing Home Huddle to provide real-time, pragmatic solutions that can be implemented in nursing homes today to solve many of the key problems brought about or exacerbated by COVID-19.

Call topics will reflect the most pressing issues identified by those providing care for nursing home residents, including access to personal protective equipment (PPE), lack of testing, hospital to nursing home transfers, staff illness and absence, and staff attrition.

Archived Webinars

Supporting Grandfamilies in a Pandemic

Thursday, May 21, 2020, 2:00 PM EDT

Join Generations United and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) for a conversation on how the aging network can best support older adults raising grandchildren or other young relatives during this tumultuous time. A grandparent currently raising her grandchildren will share first-hand experience, and other grandfamily and AAA experts will join the conversation.

National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) Special Report - Implications of COVID-19 (5/15/2020)

Sponsored by NIDILRR, the Institute on Disability/UCED at the University of New Hampshire, and NIDILRR.

The coronavirus outbreak is affecting hundreds of thousands of people and having a growing impact on the economy and employment. During this special additional nTIDE Lunch & Learn, our team of experts will share their latest perspectives, based on data from a population survey released mid-month, on the coronavirus pandemic and its implications on employment, emerging bills and policies, and resources for the days ahead


National Older Adults Mental Health Awareness Day 2020 Webinar (5/7/2020)

Recording coming soon

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Administration for Community Living, Veterans Health Administration, and National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging hosted this webinar on "Combating Social Isolation for Seniors during the COVID-19 Pandemic." The event included remarks from the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz,  Assistant Secretary for Aging Lance Robertson, and the latest information on coping with social isolation and loneliness from University of California San Diego Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Dilip Jeste.


Providing Person-Centered, Trauma-Informed Services During a Pandemic (4/28/2020)

This webinar was hosted by JFNA’s Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, an ACL grantee and discussed how how agencies are providing Person Centered and Trauma Informed (PCTI) care to Holocaust survivors in the face of COVID-19.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at Work: Considerations for COVID-19 (4/1/2020)

Hosted by the ODEP-funded Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), this webinar featured guest experts from the NIDILRR-funded Northeast ADA Center and Mid-Atlantic ADA Center discussing balancing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on COVID-19 containment with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidance on the ADA. It also includes information on the implications of the pandemic on disability-related inquiries, medical examinations, interpreting direct threat, and reasonable accommodations for telework.


Supporting Family Caregivers of Older Adults through Times of Stress and Isolation (4/30/20)

More than 34 million individuals in the U.S. provide unpaid care for an older adult, including many individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Due to the emergency brought on by COVID-19, caregivers of older adults may be experiencing new challenges and others may be new to caregiving responsibilities. The emotional, physical, and financial impact of caregiving can lead to stress, depression, anxiety, and other health problems. Providers and health plan staff can play key roles in supporting caregivers, particularly during this time of isolation. 

This webinar hosted by Resources for Integrated Care offered strategies for supporting caregivers and their loved ones, information on access to health and social supports, and practical tips for addressing the needs of caregivers experiencing social isolation and stress-related conditions. Included strategies for virtual settings.


Ensuring Continuity of HCBS During the COVID-19 Pandemic (4/23/2020)

Recording Slides Transcript Q&A and Resources

ACL and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are hosting a monthly webinar series to assist states and stakeholders in developing high quality programs to address social determinants of health (SDOH) and provider capacity building in home- and community-based services (HCBS). The April 23 webinar focused on best practices in continuing access to HCBS during the COVID-19 pandemic. HCBS waivers promote social distancing practices by giving individuals tools to stay at home. CMS discussed state options for flexibilities available in Medicaid HCBS programs. States, providers, and advocates provided information about innovative community actions for HCBS waivers in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: To see the captioning, select the option to switch to “classic” view in the Internet browser pop-up. Bookmarks are available to skip to different parts of the webinar.


Managing Volunteer Programs and Outreach During COVID-19 Webinar Series

The SMP National Resource Center, the SHIP National Technical Assistance Center, and the Center for Benefits Access, and ACL offered a series of webinars to help grantees manage their volunteer programs and outreach efforts during the COVID-19 crisis.


Coping with COVID-19 – Financial Tools & Resources to Help Small Businesses – Q&A with the SBA’s Washington Metropolitan Area District Office (4/24/20)

Federal agencies and financial institutions are working diligently to implement the EIDL and CARES Act programs. In addition, Congress is currently negotiating legislation to add funds to assist Small Businesses through this challenging time. However, many questions still arise:

* If my application has been approved, what steps should I be taking now?
* If I submitted an application and it has not been approved, what steps should I take?
* Assuming additional funds will be approved, what changes can I expect in the procedures to apply for these programs?


Update on HIPPA and COVID-19 (Webinar PowerPoint Available) - HHS Office for Civil Rights (April 24, 2020)


AUCD COVID-19 Public Health Webinar Series

This 4-part webinar series reviewed different topics related to disability inclusion during COVID-19.

Session 1: Advice from Medical Providers
Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. ET

Session 2: Advice from Family Members and Caregivers on Dealing with COVID-19
Wednesday, April 22, 2020, 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. ET

Session 3: Advice from People who have a Disability on Dealing with COVID-19
Wednesday, April 29, 2020 4:00-5:30 PM ET

Session 4: Advice on Your Questions
Thursday, April 30, 2020 4:00-5:30 PM ET

Addressing social isolation

Resources from ADvancing States 

Addressing Social Isolation for Older Adults during COVID-19

How you can help your community

Want to help, but not sure how you can do that while staying safe? The Corporation for National and Community Service created this page just for you.  

Resource for faith communities - combating isolation and elder abuse

Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse and the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life wrote a letter encouraging faith leaders to raise awareness about elder abuse and help to support older survivors. The letter has been endorsed by 22 other national organizations, including several ACL grantees and partners.

Preventing Medicare fraud – Resources from the Senior Medicare Patrol Resource Center
Distance learning and IDEA resources for schools

On March 17, the Department of Education released a webinar on ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities for schools utilizing online learning, as well as a fact sheet on how to protect students' civil rights as school leaders take steps to keep students safe and secure. These resources will assist education leaders in making distance learning accessible to students with disabilities and in preventing discrimination during this Administration-wide response effort.

The Department of Education has also produced a document answering questions schools might have about students with disabilities and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The document is one of several resources on the department's IDEA page.

Planning for COVID-19 (and other emergencies) in your community

Capacity-Building Toolkit for including Aging & Disability Networks in Emergency Planning

ACL worked with the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) to create this resource to guide the aging and disability networks in increasing their ability to plan for and respond to public health emergencies and disasters.

The Toolkit can help emergency managers and public health officials to understand the capabilities and expertise of CBOs within the aging and disability networks and welcome their partnership in emergency planning activities.

While the Toolkit is not specifically focused on COVID-19, its recommendations and resources apply to a wide range of emergency situations. Module Three, which begins on page 21, specifically addresses preparing for public health emergencies, including infectious disease.  

Resource Guide for Senior Centers

Senior Centers Connect is a resource guide from the National Council on Aging for centers that are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The guide includes ideas for programming and continuing services.

Telework and outreach resources from the MIPPA, SMP, and SHIP resource centers

Since March 2020, ACL and the SMP, SHIP, and MIPPA resource centers have been reaching out to the three networks to collect information on program needs, success stories, and successful practices related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful practices have been compiled by ACL's in a document covering topics including counseling, media, training, and volunteer management.

Resources for Everyone 

The COVID-19 situation is fast-moving, and what people need to know is changing fast as well. In the interest of providing information as quickly as we can, we are sharing resources created by our partners in the aging and disability networks and non-governmental agencies when a comparable resource from a government source does not exist. This does not constitute endorsement for one organization over another or indicate support for opinions expressed by the organizations.

About COVID-19 overall

White House Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force

Stay on top of the latest information from the official White House COVID-19 Task Force.

USA.gov

USA.gov has a directory of COVID-19 websites managed by government agencies. 

Health information from CDC 

CDC's COVID-19 web page includes a number of resources, including specific guidance for:

CDC video

Fact sheets for older adults and people with disabilities
Community-Based Testing Sites for COVID-19

HHS has partnered with pharmacy and retail companies to provide COVID-19 testing in community settings.

This website provides up-to-date information about each company's efforts to provide timely and accessible COVID-19 testing. You can schedule an appointment for testing on each company's website.

Protecting civil rights 

Guidance from the HHS Office for Civil Rights

On March 28, the HHS Office for Civil Rights published OCR Bulletin: Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) to ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs. 

The bulletin states that, “…persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative “worth” based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age. Decisions by covered entities concerning whether an individual is a candidate for treatment should be based on an individualized assessment of the patient and his or her circumstances, based on the best available objective medical evidence.”

A fact sheet for health care professionals titled Safeguard Against Disability Discrimination During COVID-19 is available from the The Center for Dignity in Healthcare for People with Disabilities. A second Fact Sheet describes the rights of people with disabilities and self-advocacy tips when receiving medical care.

U.S. Department of Justice letter on nondiscrimination protections

The Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice issued a statement to ensure that victims of illegal discrimination know where to turn when their civil rights are violated.

Read "Protecting Civil Rights While Responding to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19."

Equal employment and other labor-related resources
Know your rights during the COVID-19 pandemic

The National Disability Rights Network has created a new video series on the rights of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and what to do if they are violated. The series includes:

Training for healthcare triage teams: Preventing discrimination against people with disabilities

As part of the Disability Awareness and Sensitivity in Healthcare (DASH) initiative, the University of Miami’s Mailman Center for Child Development has created a rapid response team training for triage team members who are faced with making resource allocation decisions during shortages (e.g. ventilators, etc.). This brief training details how to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities during a public health emergency. It covers actions that triage team members and institutions can take to protect patients with disabilities, and it reviews tips for effective communication and the provision of accommodations. While this training is intended for members of triage teams who will be involved in making resource allocation decisions, others may also benefit from reviewing this content.

Protecting Personal Finances

Avoiding fraud and scams - Resources from federal partners

Scammers are taking advantage circumstances surrounding COVID-19.  For example:

  • People are receiving text messages that offer funding for an "Aging Empowerment Program." The message may offer $150,000. This is a scam, and the sender is trying collect personal information. Do not respond to these scams no matter whose name is attached to the text.
  • Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the COVID-19. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus. Visit the FDA to learn more.

The following resources from the federal government can help you protect yourself:

New! From the HHS Office of Inspector General

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General is alerting the public about fraud schemes related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Scammers are offering COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, the services are unapproved and illegitimate.

Fraudsters are targeting beneficiaries in a number of ways, including telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits. These scammers use the coronavirus pandemic to benefit themselves, and beneficiaries face potential harms. The personal information collected can be used to fraudulently bill Federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft. If Medicare or Medicaid denies the claim for an unapproved test, the beneficiary could be responsible for the cost.

For more information and tips, visit the Office of Inspector General Fraud Alert page.

From the Federal Trade Commission

The FTC's Coronavirus Scams resource page (in English & Spanish) has blogs, links to law enforcement actions, recordings of scam calls, and tips for avoiding and reporting scams, including:

From the Securities and Exchange Commission

The SEC's Investor Alert warns about investment frauds involving claims that a company’s products or services will be used to help stop the coronavirus outbreak.

Department of Justice Resources

The Department of Justice's COVID-19 page includes alerts about known scams and resources. This flyer from DOJ's Elder Justice Initiative includes links for law enforcement and others who are working to combat elder abuse. 

Mail Scams

The United States Postal Inspection Service is tracking and providing resources on coronavirus-related scams.  

IRS warning: Watch out for schemes tied to economic impact payments

The Internal Revenue Service is urging taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of calls and email phishing attempts. These contacts can lead to tax-related fraud and identity theft.

Scammers may:

  • Emphasize the words "Stimulus Check" or "Stimulus Payment." The official term is economic impact payment.
  • Ask the taxpayer to sign over their economic impact payment check to them.
  • Ask by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information saying that the information is needed to receive or speed up their economic impact payment.
  • Suggest that they can get a tax refund or economic impact payment faster by working on the taxpayer's behalf. This scam could be conducted by social media or even in person.
  • Mail the taxpayer a bogus check, perhaps in an odd amount, then tell the taxpayer to call a number or verify information online in order to cash it.

Official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page on IRS.gov. 

How to report COVID-19 scams
Financial tips and resources from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has resources to protect and manage your finances during the COVID-19 emergency. Some of the resources are specifically for those facing financial difficulties as a result of the pandemic.

Resources include:

For Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security beneficiaries

Medicare highlights

Medicare.gov's COVID-19 page includes information for beneficiaries.  A few key things:

  • Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
  • Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
  • At this time, there's no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits beyond the ones described below. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.
Economic Impact Payments - Info for Social Security beneficiaries

On March 27, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, into law. This law provides direct payments to individuals and support to small businesses. Eligible individuals will receive economic impact payments of up to $1,200 for individuals or $2,400 for married couples and up to $500 for each qualifying child.

The IRS Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here tool allows you to quickly register for Economic Impact Payments if you don't normally file a tax return. The feature is available only on IRS.gov. Using the tool will not result in any taxes being owed. Entering bank account information will allow the IRS to deposit your payment directly into your account. Otherwise, your payment will be mailed to you.

Important Notes for Social Security beneficiaries:

  • Eligible Social Security (including SSDI and SSI), Veterans Administration, and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries who don’t normally file taxes will automatically receive payments of $1,200.
  • Any of these beneficiaries who have qualifying children under age 17 and did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes must use the "Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info" tool on IRS.gov to claim the $500 payment per child.
    • SSA retirement, SSA survivor, SSDI, and RRB beneficiaries must submit this information by noon ET Wednesday, April 22.
    • For those who miss the April 22 deadline, their automatic payment will be $1,200 and, by law, the additional $500 per eligible child would be paid in association with a return filing for tax year 2020.
    • SSI and VA beneficiaries have some additional time but should enter information as soon as possible.
  • Any new beneficiaries since January 1, 2020, of either Social Security or SSI benefits, who did not file a tax return for 2018 or 2019, will also need to go to the IRS’s Non-Filers tool to enter their information.
  • Economic impact payments will not be counted as income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.

The Social Security Administration has created a document to help quickly determine whether you need to take any action to receive your economic impact payment, or a payment for your qualifying child. The document also explains when the Internal Revenue Service will issue the payment.

SSA has also provided answers to common questions about representative payees and Economic Impact Payments.

Medicare Beneficiary Q&A: Avoiding Medicare Scams

Scams related to the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, are rapidly increasing as the public health emergency develops. Scammers are targeting older adults and those with serious long-term health conditions who appear to have a higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Fraudsters are attempting to bill Medicare for sham tests or treatments related to the coronavirus and are targeting individuals to illegally obtain money or Medicare numbers.

ACL's Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program wants Medicare beneficiaries to have the most up-to-date information on what Medicare covers and when. This document  from the SMP Resource Center provides answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding Medicare’s coverage related to COVID-19. 

Tracking states' Medicaid Appendix K Waivers

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, states are using Medicaid Appendix K waivers to incorporate flexibility into their home- and community-based services to ensure access to long-term services and supports during the crisis. NASHP has launched an interactive map that tracks states’ use of Appendix K waivers to modify services for older adults and their family caregivers.

Seeking Input and Submissions

Survey on COVID-19 experiences from NRRTC on Family Support

The National Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Family Support at the University of Pittsburgh invites the public to complete a survey on the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. During this difficult time, community input it is more important than ever.  Responses will inform professionals and policy makers who are designing programs and interventions to help people cope with this serious public health crisis.  
 
The survey covers COVID-19 impacts on employment, financial well-being, social interactions, health behaviors, physical health, and mental health. We will also ask if you or others in your home have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing related symptoms. For individuals providing care to a family member, questions are asked about how COVID-19 has affected your caregiving responsibilities and ability to provide quality care. These answers will be extremely helpful in designing programs to help family caregivers during this difficult time.  

Mapping the experiences of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic

The University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Disability and Human Development invites you to draw a map of your neighborhood or environment to capture how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted (or not) your use and understanding of space. This can include drawings/images of your home, your neighborhood, your city or beyond. Maps can come in many forms, styles, perspectives, and mediums.

Researchers plan to share these maps through an online public display as a project aimed at capturing community knowledge, shared experiences, and creative expression.

Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis through June 30, 2020. Please share your maps using this link.

More resources

For family caregivers
  • State Medicaid home- and community-based services can provide critical education, counseling, and training to family caregivers of older adults. The National Academy for State Health Policy has created a new interactive map capturing how each state’s Medicaid waivers addresses training and counseling services for family caregivers. 
  • “Let’s Talk COVID-19” is a guide created by the Washington State Council on Developmental Disabilities to help family, friends, and care providers of people with developmental disabilities as they navigate conversations about COVID-19.
  • These suggestions for family members and friends who support people living with Alzheimer's disease and similar illnesses were put together by the Emory University Goizueta Alzheimer's Disease Center. They also may be helpful for people providing support to loved ones for any reason.
  • The Family Caregiver Alliance is collecting COVID-19 resources and articles for family caregivers.
  • Generations United has produced a COVID-19 fact sheet with information to help grandfamilies stay healthy, informed and connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center is collecting resources on respite in the time of COVID-19.
  • The Caregiver Action Network has developed a resource, Tips for Family Caregivers and COVID-19.
  • FAQs about guardianship issues during COVID-19 from the National Guardianship Association, in conjunction with the ABA Commission on Law and Aging and the National Center for State Courts.  
For people with developmental disabilities and self-advocates
Cross-disability resources from the the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR)
Complex communication needs: Resources and tools for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or DeafBlind, or who do not use speech; medical professionals, and others who provide support

This web page includes resources to help people with complex communication needs prepare in case emergency assistance is needed, as well as information and tools for caregivers and healthcare providers.  It was created by the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Augmentative and Alternative Communication at Penn State University, which is funded by ACL's National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research. 

Tools to use when verbal communication is not possible due to an individual's disability, injury, or shock.

  • These printable communication boards from Temple University Institute on Disabilities feature pictures, words and a "keyboard." They also include a planning page to record key information that may be needed during an emergency. 
  • The UConn Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities developed a flipbook that provides strategies and tools to help emergency/medical personnel communicate with people who do not use speech. Aids include an emergency QWERTY board that can be used to spell words by pointing, pain charts, sign language basics, and icon-based tools. It can be printed out and hung inside emergency vehicles for easy reference on the job.
  • The Patient-Provider Communication Forum, with the support of the United States Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (USSAAC), is providing free communication supports for people with disabilities and their health care workers.

For people who are deaf, hard of hearing or DeafBlind 

This web page provides tips to help people who are deaf, hard of hearing or DeafBlind communicate at the hospital while COVID-19 precautions are in place. It includes a list of smartphone applications and a printable medical placard that may be helpful. It was created by the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center, funded by ACL's NIDILRR,  

For people with paralysis  

The Paralysis Resource Center, an ACL grantee, has created this resource for people living with paralysis. See also:

Telehealth for deaf and hard-of-hearing people

A coalition of deaf and hard of hearing consumer advocacy organizations, deaf healthcare providers, and other experts have developed guidelines on telehealth for consumers and medical professionals.

For health professionals/facilities and first responders

Healthcare professionals who serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

The American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD)'s Coronavirus Center is a resource and knowledge-sharing hub for individuals, caregivers, and, in particular, health care workers serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

First responders

Tips for First Responders, developed by the University of New Mexico, Center for Development and Disability, the American Association on Health and Disability, and other partners, offers quick, easy-to-use procedures for assisting people with disabilities in an emergency. The guide includes specific tips to support:

  • Seniors
  • People with service animals
  • People with mobility impairments
  • People with Autism
  • People who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • People who are blind or visually impaired
  • People with cognitive disabilities
  • People with multiple chemical sensitivities
  • People who are mentally ill
  • Childbearing women and newborns
  • People With Seizure Disorders

Download as a PDF.

Telehealth for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People

A coalition of deaf and hard of hearing consumer advocacy organizations, deaf healthcare providers, and other experts worked together to provide these guidelines for healthcare providers.

Accessibility at Drive-Thru Medical Sites

Drive-thru medical sites are one way that hospitals and health departments provide intermittent medical services with greater ease and/or safety for their patients. The sites are especially useful for medical testing during times of an outbreak since keeping patients in vehicles can help to minimize exposure to a contagious disease.

Whether these drive-thru medical services are funded/operated by the state, county, or city or a private business, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that the services are accessible to people with disabilities. The Northwest ADA Center has created a fact sheet that lists considerations and strategies to promote accessibility at drive-thru medical sites

Resources for LGBT Older Adults and People Living with HIV

Behavioral health resources to help during social distancing and quarantine 
  • SAMHSA's Tips for Social Distancing and Isolation. This tip sheet describes feelings and thoughts people may have during and after social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. It also suggests ways to care for behavioral health during these experiences and provides resources for more help. (Published Mar. 16, 2020)
  • SAMHSA's Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support to people experiencing disaster-related emotional distress.
    • Deaf/Hard of Hearing instructions:
      • Text TalkWithUs to 66746
      • Use your preferred relay service to call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990
      • TTY 1-800-846-8517
  • SAMHSA Virtual Recovery Resources describes resources that can be used to virtually support recovery from mental/substance use disorders and to help local recovery programs create virtual meetings.
USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program

As part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, USDA was authorized to purchase and distribute up to $3 billion of agricultural products to those in need. USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of many restaurants, hotels, and other food service entities, to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat. Learn more about the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

Resources for veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs is working to protect and care for veterans and their families, health care providers, and staff in the face of this COVID-19 pandemic. 

Veterans with symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath should contact their local VA medical facility before visiting. Veterans also can sign into My HealtheVet to send secure messages to their VA providers or use telehealth options to explain their condition and receive a prompt diagnosis.

More resources from the VA:

FAQs and resources related to Guardianship

The National Guardianship Association has developed FAQs and provides other resources that may be useful to guardians during the COVID-19 crisis. 

American Sign Language

CDC COVID-19 resources are now available in American Sign Language via YouTube. You can see the entire Playlist on YouTube  (20 videos, as of April 28) or browse by topic:

General Information
Prevention  
Know your risk
Symptoms and Care
COVID-19 and Children
COVID-19 and Pregnancy

The National Association of the Deaf is compiling a list of other coronavirus-related ASL videos

En Español

Ver más

 


Last modified on 05/28/2020


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