Dutchess County Executive wants visitation restored for people living in group homes

It's been more than three months since individuals with disabilities living in group homes were sheltered in place without visitors.

News 12 Staff

Jun 9, 2020, 9:19 PM

Updated 1,439 days ago

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It's been more than three months since individuals with disabilities living in group homes were sheltered in place without visitors.
As New York continues to reopen, many are now asking if group homes will as well.
Since the coronavirus hit, 31-year-old David Majask, who has Down syndrome, has had weekly outings with his family replaced with video calls and doughnut deliveries.
"We can see him but we can't touch him or hug him. David loves doughnuts, as does his father, so we we will stop by and knock on the door with masks and protection and hand over the doughnuts," says his father Joe Majask
Across the state, group homes remain sheltered in place with no visitors allowed. David Majask lives in a group home run by The Arc Westchester, a nonprofit supporting people with disabilities. The head of the organization says many of these individuals are even more at risk to the virus.
"Because of pre-existing conditions that lend to respiratory issues that attract COVID-19 virus, so that's very concerning, and we need to be even more vigilant than the rest of the population out there," says Tibi Guzman, executive director of The Arc Westchester.
As industries open up, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is calling for the Office with People with Disabilities to restore visitation, telling the OPWDD commissioner "at this point of the crisis it has become overly restrictive, potentially harming the overall well-being of those being served."
An OPWDD spokesperson tells News 12 that "they're working with the NYS Department of Health to safely resume programs and visitations," but gave no timeline.
The OPWDD reports that out of 38,000 residents, about 2,300 contracted COVID-19 - roughly 15% of them passed away.
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