As we continue our lives during this COVID-19 pandemic, The Arc would like to say thank you for your incredible support of measures we have taken to ensure the health and safety of those we serve and our staff. The State of Alaska and federal leadership continues to share developments and we are closely monitoring the situation daily. We remain optimistic that actions taken with social distancing and limiting interaction in our community will slow the spread of COVID-19 cases in our state.
Being proactive in our community is critical to ensure the health and safety of the 300+ individuals and their families we serve. Over the last week since our March 13 update, we have taken action on the following areas of services and programs to be in line with state agency directives and CDC directives regarding COVID-19.
- Cancellation of special events and community outings through the month of March
- Postponement of The Arc’s annual fundraiser Sweet Rivalry, new date to be determined
- Closure of group/congregate setting classes at our Recreation Center, Sparc: a creative place, The Arc Clubhouse and our supported employment ground/facility crew
- Mandatory temperature screenings of staff, as well as residents in all facilities of The Arc.
- Initiated a no visitation order at our group homes and supported living facilities (only staff and residents allowed in home/building); The Arc to accommodate and support alternative communication methods for residents
- Requiring self-quarantine of staff who have recently returned from travel outside of Alaska in the past two weeks, or if they live in the same household of someone who has travelled outside of Alaska in the past two weeks
- Requiring self-quarantine of staff who are ill or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19
- Following CDC recommendations of frequent handwashing, avoid touching your face, disinfecting of commonly used surfaces, limiting interaction of groups of >10 people, and practicing social distancing techniques
- Providing helpful resources to staff and community through social media accounts; The Arc is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn
Our newest updates for March 20 include:
- Our Recreation Center staff are working to provide virtual instruction for classes and life skill development. They will be connecting with individuals and families to determine technology access and connectivity
- For our individuals living in the community and still receiving day habilitation services, please understand that The Arc is taking necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of all individuals we serve as well as our staff members. Please anticipate screening questions regarding recent travel and respiratory symptoms from staff at The Arc. We kindly ask that you disclose any travel within the past two weeks of the individual receiving services or anyone that individual may have been in contact with (such as family members, friends, etc.) as well as the presence of any symptoms of a respiratory infection: coughing, difficulty breathing, and fever of 100.4F or greater.
- Our Nursing department will be checking in with individuals in our group homes and supporting living facilities as well as those enrolled in Nursing Oversight and Care Management through SDS waiver program.
We understand that individuals and their families have a choice with whom they receive their services, we are grateful for those who continue to count on us to support them and to provide these important services. We also understand that those we serve are more likely to have underlying medical conditions and the risk to participate in services may be of concern. The Arc is working with our staff to follow CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of individuals receiving 1:1 support during this time.
The Arc also asks individuals and families to be understanding of staff changes to accommodate if/when a staff member returns from travel or is ill. We are adjusting our staffing to make sure our services continue without interruption and some families may notice those changes in the weeks to come.
Again, we appreciate the support of the greater community working together as so many changes have already occurred, including closure of Anchorage School District schools and major changes in our restaurant, tourism and now health care industries to combat the spread of COVID-19. We will do our best to rely important updates and resources through communication with you and encourage you to find us social media:
Other community updates and resources:
HEALTH DEPARTMENT UPDATES
Two mandates went into effect starting March 19:
- Anchorage Health Department and satellite locations will suspend in-person appointments and visitation. Services will now be over the phone and limited appointments. Any in-person business or service must be prearranged with the specific program. To view the coronavirus notifications from the Municipality of Anchorage: https://www.muni.org/covid-19/Pages/default.aspx
- State of Alaska has required all elective oral health care procedures to be postponed for a period of one month. Keep this in mind if you have plans for dental care. https://gov.alaska.gov/home/covid19-healthmandates/
Letter from Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Zink: https://www.adn.com/opinions/2020/03/19/covid-19-the-time-to-act-is-now-before-widespread-community-transmission/
Alaska 2-1-1 is a free, confidential one-stop way to locate local resources, such as help with accessing food or transportation. Dial 2-1-1 or, for Alaskans who live in areas where 2-1-1 can’t be accessed, dial 1-800-478-2221. 2-1-1 currently has extended call center hours: 7am – 8pm, 7 days a week. The United Ways in Alaska, together with their network of partners, are committed to providing the 2-1-1 system to all Alaskans. Please know that 2-1-1 does not offer COVID-19 screening. If you have symptoms and want to know if you should be tested, call your health care provider, not 2-1-1. Please call ahead before you go into a clinic, doctor’s office or emergency room. You may also find answers to your questions on the DHSS website, coronavirus.alaska.gov, or on your official local websites.
SPECIAL SHOPPING HOURS
Helping our Senior Citizens & Vulnerable Neighbors
Carrs Safeway stores across the State of Alaska will be reserving store hours for at risk shoppers such as senior citizens, pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems.
- Tuesdays: 7 am to 9 am
- Thursdays: 7 am to 9 am
Value Village will close its’ stores nationwide from March 20-April 6. The Arc of Anchorage will continue to offer our FREE pick-up service of donations. Schedule your pick-up here or call 907-929-4357, place your donation outside your door and will get your donation practicing social distancing! For more information about the temporary closure of Value Village: https://www.valuevillage.com/covid-19
GCI OFFER FOR FREE INTERNET SERVICES
GCI is offering Free Entry Level Internet and Free upgrades to existing customers until May 31, 2020.
TAX FILING AND DEADLINES EXTENDED
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak by extending the date for paying any Federal Income Tax due April 15th (up to certain amounts) to July 15th, 2020. The filing deadline for tax returns remains April 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can’t file by the April 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request a six-month extension to file their return. Visit www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
MENTAL HEALTH & SOCIAL DISTANCING RESOURCE
This is a stressful time for many. With the government and media sharing updates throughout the day and the fear of the unknown, it is understandable to feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious. You are not alone. Read more: https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2020/03/how-to-care-for-yourself-while-practicing-physical-distancing
BLOOD BANK OF ALASKA
The Blood Bank of Alaska is low on blood and needs donations. Especially for type O+ and O-(Donations by appointment only. Visit bloodbankofalaska.org)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
- State of Alaska Dept. of Health & Social Services
- Municipality of Anchorage
- Anchorage School District (ASD)
Chief Executive Officer
The Arc of Anchorage | 2211 Arca Drive, Anchorage, Alaska 99508
P.S. If you’d like to participate in sharing joy with others, World Down Syndrome Day is tomorrow, March 21 and you are welcome to join in the fun by wearing crazy socks! We joined in on the fun and created a fun video to spread some #FeelGoodFriday joy!