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Group homes want PPE before a coronavirus outbreak

Some organizations that provide housing for people with intellectual disabilities say staff are on the front lines

BRUNSWICK, Maine — Some organizations that run group homes for people with intellectual disabilities in Maine are making a plea for proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for their employees before a case of COVID-19 is confirmed at their facility.

The Independence Association located in Brunswick, operates ten group homes and provide staff for clients who live in apartments. 

The majority of the clients are unable to follow COVID-19 guidelines to self-isolate and practice good hygiene. 

Social distancing is also not possible.

The Maine CDC says they are focusing on group homes, and if a facility is experiencing an outbreak, even one case, they will be given proper PPE, including N95 masks. 

But the Independence Association says that equipment is needed before an outbreak.

Ray Nagel, the Executive Director of the Independence Association, said the individuals in the group homes are more prone to infecting others because they don't know what's going on, and the staff of the homes are less prepared and equipped to deal with it.

Right now, residents and staff at group homes are given priority testing for COVID-19 by the Maine CDC. Nagel says he plans to lobby the state for extra hazard pay for Direct Support Professionals, known as DSPs. The state has approved temporary hourly increases for more than 800 people working in state mental health and correctional facilities. 

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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