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COVID-19 kills 3, sickens dozens of others at Bayville group home 

Staff at the Bayville group home of the

Staff at the Bayville group home of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County, which houses 46 residents, bring some of them back inside the facility on April 8. Credit: Johnny Milano

More than three dozen residents at a group home in Bayville for people with cerebral palsy have tested positive for COVID-19, and three have died, according to the organization that operates the home.

Of 46 residents at the home run by Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County, 37 tested positive for the virus, as did eight staff members. The outbreak at the facility was first reported this week by The New York Times. In addition to the Bayville facility, eight other smaller group homes run by the organization are under quarantine because residents have tested positive for the virus, executive director Bob McGuire said.

“No one could prepare for this — no one knew it was coming,” McGuire said Thursday. As hospitals have struggled to get the resources and protective equipment they need, it’s been even more difficult for group homes that aren’t equipped to treat sick people to do so, he said.

“We don't have that kind of supply,” McGuire said, adding that the first cases in its system appeared toward the end of the second week of March.

Eight residents from the facility remained hospitalized Thursday. Their conditions were unknown, but McGuire said the outbreak is now contained.

While people across the globe are trying to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet to slow the spread of the virus, McGuire said that is “impossible” in a group home for people with developmental disabilities.

“Think about people who are intellectually challenged,” McGuire said. “They don't understand about social distancing or washing hands and other universal precautions. It’s up to our staff to protect themselves and the residents to the degree they can.”

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On March 25, the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) issued guidelines for residential facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The guidelines include cleaning and sanitizing facilities as well as stocking and using personal protective equipment, generally prohibiting outside visitors and preparing supervision under quarantine conditions. The guidance also said cerebral palsy was a condition with a high risk of “adverse outcomes” in COVID-19 infections.

McGuire said the staff now has all the face masks and gloves they need but that they still don’t have enough gowns or face shields.

According to the OPWDD, out of 5,300 people on Long Island in residential homes for people with developmental disabilities, 215 have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities is taking the threat of COVID-19 to the people we support very seriously and has activated our emergency response team to closely monitor all reports of possible contact within our system across the state,” the office said Thursday in a statement.

State Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport), whose district includes Bayville, said Thursday that the situation in group homes was “dire.”

Staff at those homes are “on the front line as people are in hospitals, and emergency medical technicians and ambulance drivers,” Gaughran said.

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