TUESDAY, APRIL 6
This past weekend was literally a breath of fresh air. It is so good to see the flowers blooming and hear the birds chirping. It seems that Spring is definitely in the air. You will see from the information below that there is great news on vaccines. It is our hope that all eligible Iowans will now have more opportunities to schedule an appointment so we can continue our fight against the spread of the virus.
Linn County Public Health (LCPH) has information that we thought might be of interest and we want to share. A few of the highlights are listed below and the following link can used to see additional information. Linn County COVID-19 Status Update
- Starting yesterday, April 5th, the Iowa Department of Public Health announced any person age 16 or 18 and over (as defined by the respective vaccine Emergency Use Authorization) is eligible to receive a vaccination from enrolled COVID-19 Vaccine Providers.
- LCPH large vaccine distribution clinics – large public clinics for eligible populations in addition to current methods of vaccine distribution. It will be important to offer a variety of methods for people to receive vaccine, as there is not one option that is best for everyone. The model that has been used for clinics for targeted populations has helped prepare for larger scale, public clinics. Plans are underway for a large scale clinic for the general population between April 22 and 28 at Lindale Mall in Cedar Rapids. An exact date has not yet been finalized.
- Vaccine FAQs – LCPH Frequently Asked Questions
- 211 Vaccine Appointment Scheduling – Iowans age 16 to 64 with underlying conditions can call 211 or (800) 244-7431 for help with scheduling a vaccine appointment.
- CDC Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated Individuals – learn what full Fully Vaccinated Individuals can now do, and things you should keep doing in public when with unvaccinated people or members of multiple households. This includes wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. It also includes information on what the CDC is still learning.
- CDC Travel Guidelines – today it was announced those that are fully vaccinated may travel in the United States, and do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
Program activities in the community – our site based programming has been committed to social distancing and mask wearing for all. As the warm weather emerges we are eager partake in activities within the community that support our continued commitment to safety as our top priority.
The links mentioned above are updated regularly so please make sure to check back often for the latest updates. We encourage you to join the fight against the pandemic and join the rally to return safely to the freedoms we all hold dear.
TUESDAY, MARCH 2
The Governor announced recently that beginning this month, people with disabilities should be receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The Arc will work in partnership with Linn County Public Health to make sure you get the information you need about how to sign up and where to go. If you have not yet been educated on the vaccine or have more questions, please seek out the answers so you can make the best decision for you and your family.
- Linn County Public Health has a COVID Hotline open Monday-Friday from 8:00 am – 4:30 pm, call 319-892-6097 if you have specific questions.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some good information on their website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/keythingstoknow.html.
- Last month, we hosted a forum with Dr. Scott Nau, local pediatrician, who answered your questions about the vaccine. To watch a copy of this video, go here: https://zoom.us/rec/share/v36sIA79OL_gE8ga8BjhFWDyt2DZJeDqi1JGVUfgf4ncaNRw8x_3m_HTZKUOOXIY.0Q39YgAz5dxSHLuZ and enter Passcode: cm5Z#.a2.
- Both Linn County LIFT and NTS will provide FREE transportation to get your vaccine, so if you need transportation, please call either one to make arrangements.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 22
COVID-19 Vaccine Discussion with Dr. Scott Nau
FRIDAY, MAY 29
Arc Families and Friends,
As restrictions are starting to be lifted by the governor, I wanted to provide you with an update.
Plans are in progress to reopen several Arc programs during the month of June. Our initial focus has been on a phased reopening of Daycare and Day Habilitation. Surveys have been sent out to caregivers seeking input to ensure needs are understood as we prepare to welcome back your loved ones. Our Summer Day Program will be occurring this summer and our team is hard at work preparing. Program specific information will be emailed to caregivers beginning next week to keep you updated on our progress for each program.
Group and Getaway activities and Choice, our adult enrichment program, are also in the planning stages, but the dates are pending at this time. We want to make sure there is adequate space to allow proper distancing before moving forward. We know how much these programs mean and we will do our best to resume them as soon as it can be done with all precautions in place.
For clients receiving in-home and community based services we understand that for many caregivers this was a time of uncertainty. Many understandably made the decision to keep their loved ones at home to avoid the risk of exposure to the virus. As you feel comfortable resuming services, please reach out to your Service and Support Coordinator and let them know of your needs.
At this time our administrative office remains closed. Should you need to reach anyone our phones are being answered, or you can leave a voice mail.
Rest assured that the safety of our staff and clients is of utmost concern in driving our protocols and operational procedures for each program. We look forward with great anticipation to being able to serve our clients again. They are the core of our mission and our reason for being. We miss seeing them and serving their needs.
Acting Executive Director
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29
Today we are announcing that we will be cancelling the Annual Golf Tournament scheduled for Thursday, June 18th. We are sad that we won’t get to celebrate what would have been our 30th annual tournament, and spending a day on the course together, but we feel that this is in the best interest of everyone’s safety. Additionally we will not be holding our annual raffle.
Each summer we also welcome around 40 bicycle riders to The Arc from Journey of Hope. They are a group of young men who belong to the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity that ride across America to raise money and awareness for those with disabilities. Unfortunately, they have also made the decision to cancel their ride for this summer.
We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. We will continue to keep you updated as things progress.
TUESDAY, APRIL 28
As you have probably heard, Governor Reynolds has issued a proclamation announcing a partial reopening in 77 of Iowa’s 99 counties effective Friday, May 1st. Linn nor Benton county are included in the 77 counties that will begin to ease social distancing measures. To clarify, there are NO changes to The Arc’s site-based program closures currently in effect. Our current status will remain unchanged until further notice.
If you would like to inquire about services, please contact your Service and Support Coordinator by email or at 319-365-0487 and leave a voicemail. They will respond and assist you with your needs.
I encourage you all to stay safe and take precautionary measures so that we can come together again soon, healthy and ready to serve our clients and their families. Thank you for your patience during this challenging time.
Acting Executive Director
FRIDAY, APRIL 17
I can hardly believe it has been one month since we closed site-based programming and a couple days later, our main office. We miss you all and look forward to our return, when it is safe to do so. Until then we remain focused on supporting the needs of our clients and finding the goodness in each day.
As we continue to navigate this COVID-19 journey, I wanted to touch base with you regarding the impacts of Governor Reynolds proclamation for Region 6. At the daily press conference yesterday, she said that Region 6, which covers northeast Iowa, is now at a level 10, which has prompted officials to instate new restrictions. Specifically, Region 6 includes Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Grundy, Howard, Jones, Linn, and Winneshiek counties. The additional restriction include:
- All gatherings for social, community, leisure etc. will cease through April 30
- May only meet with people in immediate household
- Individuals must make effort to stay 6 feet away from others
- Businesses follow guidance regarding infection prevention measures to protect employees and customers
- Stay home as much as possible, leave only for essential errands, work from home if possible
The additional restrictions do not include any changes to the definition of essential work. Our direct services providers have been deemed essential workers and as such critical services currently being provided will not be impacted. Closure for our site based programs including Day Habilitation, Daycare, Group Respite activities and Project SEARCH remain in effect. The Arc will continue enforcing prescreening requirements implemented on March 19, 2020, prior to providing services. The safety of our staff, clients, and their families remains our number one priority.
Read the full proclamation issued for Region 6 yesterday, April 16, 2020. Governor Reynolds Region 6 Proclamation.
To all of you providing essential services, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you! Your dedication to the citizens of our community is to be commended.
Acting Executive Director
FRIDAY, APRIL 3
What a time we find ourselves in. I hope that you and yours have remained safe. I am happy to report that as of this writing, there have been no reports of any staff or clients testing positive for COVID-19. Let’s pray this continues!
Yesterday, April 2nd, the governor ordered Iowa schools to remain closed through April 30th, extending her own previous declaration of April 13th. Restrictions on restaurants, bar and retail stores are also being extended due to the growing COVID-19 crisis.
Our previously announced program closures remain in place including Day Habilitation, Daycare – all ages, and Group activities. Additionally, effective Monday, April 6th, our Project SEARCH program will be suspended. Our partners at UnityPoint – St. Luke’s Hospital have agreed to allow the program to resume once we are cleared to return. Our In-home and community based services will continue based on availability of staff, and client needs. Screening guidelines put into place will be required prior to service taking place until further notice. As a reminder, The Arc office remains closed but phones are being answered. Please don’t hesitate to call if we can help.
I would like to express a sincere thanks to healthcare providers of all kinds, hospital and lab staff, EMTs, and our own DSPs, who are stepping up to help support those in need during this unprecedented time.
Thank you and please take precautions for your safety and those of others in our community. We’re in This Together!
Acting Executive Director
FRIDAY, MARCH 20
I hope all are remaining safe during this time of uncertainty and change. I wanted to take a minute to give you an update on The Arc of East Central Iowa.
Our office is closed and our staff has been transitioned to remote work. Our phones and faxes have been forwarded and will be received as normal. Please do not hesitate to call or email staff with any questions. They are happy to assist you.
As communicated previously, our Day Habilitation, Daycare, and Group services have all been cancelled until further notice. In-home services and supported employment services will continue where possible.
Our Project SEARCH program at UnityPoint – St. Luke’s Hospital remains in session. We have been able to obtain additional space at the hospital to ensure safe distancing and we are most grateful for their partnership. We are in close communication with our contacts and will take their lead on any decisions related to the continuance of Project SEARCH.
For the safety of those we serve, and our employees, screening protocols for COVID-19 are being implemented. Direct Service Providers will be required to follow these procedures prior to every service. If the answer to any of the screening questions is yes, we will not be able to provide services. Please review this document for details.
As we continue to navigate this unprecedented time, please know we are here to help as best we can. We will continue to provide updates as changes occur to keep you informed. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Take care and stay safe,
Acting Executive Director
MONDAY, MARCH 16
Dear Arc Clients and Families,
After careful consideration we have decided to close all site-based programming effective immediately. The ongoing developments over the weekend, including confirmed community spread in Iowa have led to this decision. We realize this comes on short notice, but we hope you will understand we have made what we feel is the best decision for our clients, staff, and all of our families and we believe the time to act is now.
This closure includes Day Habilitation, Daycare – all ages, and Group activities. Project SEARCH will follow the guidelines set forth by UnityPoint and at this time, the program will continue. In-home and community based services will continue based on availability of staff, and agreement between both parties that there is low risk in providing services. We have already seen an increase of staff absences due to their own concerns or having to stay home to care for their own family members.
At this time we plan to mirror the four week closure that the local school districts are enforcing. Should anything change to shorten or extend this time frame, we will communicate this immediately. I am happy to answer any questions you might have. Thank you for your understanding and we urge you to take precautions to stay healthy.
Acting Executive Director
MONDAY, MARCH 16
The special needs Easter Egg Hunt and Spring Fling events have been cancelled.
THURSDAY, MARCH 12
Good Afternoon Arc Families,
Over the past couple weeks, The Arc, like most organizations, businesses, and families, have watched and monitored the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak. As of today, Thursday, March 12, 2020, no programming has been cancelled; all services are still being provided. We are in uncertain times and we are diligently staying abreast of changing conditions, working with partner agencies and taking direction from the Center for Disease Control, Iowa Department of Public Health and Linn County Public Health. Should the need arise to make changes to our programming, a notice will be sent as soon as possible. Our priority, first and foremost is the health of our clients, our staff and their families.
I would like to ask that you partner with us to help limit the potential spread of this virus. We know how much your loved ones mean to you and they are very special to us as well. For their well-being, I would ask that if they, or any member of your household is sick, please keep them at home. This includes signs or symptoms of illness including; fever, cough and/or shortness of breath. Should your loved one develop symptoms while in our care, we will contact caregivers to immediately pick up the client. A release from a primary care provider will be required to return.
We will offer the same to you. We have made it known to our staff that if they are sick they should stay at home. We have signs posted to remind our staff of the preventative measures and the symptoms of COVID-19. If we suspect a staff might be displaying symptoms associated with the coronavirus we will recommend that they see a medical provider and to notify us of any test results that might require action on our behalf. A release from a primary care provider will be required to return.
Prevention – there are basic things each of us can do to help prevent the spread of the virus:
* Cover your mouth with your upper arm or a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
* Wash your hands, often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
* Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
* Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
* Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
We realize this is a challenging time for everyone. Please know that we will keep you updated as we learn more. In the meantime, self-monitor, wash your hands, and hopefully we all stay healthy and avoid this virus. Click here for information from the CDC. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Acting Executive Director