Older Adult and Disability Service Provider FAQs
Who is considered to be the high-risk population for COVID-19?
- According to the CDC, this includes older adults (65+),
smokers, individuals with compromised immune systems, and
individuals who have serious chronic medical conditions (e.g., heart
or lung disease, and diabetes). If you are part of the high-risk
population, it is important to take precautions to reduce your risk
of getting infected by:
- Staying home. It is important that you limit your interactions with other as much as possible.
- Avoiding contact with people who are sick. Isolating anyone sick in your home in a separate room, if possible.
- Maintaining 6 feet of distance between yourself and those outside of your household, especially if you are venturing out into a public setting.
- Covering your mouth and nose with a facial covering when around people who do not live in your household.
- Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily.
For more information, please see the CDC website here.
- According to the CDC, this includes older adults (65+), smokers, individuals with compromised immune systems, and individuals who have serious chronic medical conditions (e.g., heart or lung disease, and diabetes). If you are part of the high-risk population, it is important to take precautions to reduce your risk of getting infected by:
What is the current guidance on face coverings?
- On June 18, 2020, the California Department of Public Health announced that all individuals ages 2 and older in California are required to wear face coverings. Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering are exempt. This includes situations where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication (e.g., communicating with an individual who is hearing impaired).
- Click here to learn more about facial covering exemptions from this order.
Is there an alternative solution for mask wearing geared towards
intellectually disabled adults?
- As stated in the new Guidance for The Use of Face Coverings from the California Department of Public Health,
“Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others should wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their condition permits it.”
Is it possible to get testing for potential residents or participants in
programs before we admit them?
- Testing for COVID-19 is recommended for people at higher risk of developing severe complications from the disease, especially those in congregate settings and experiencing symptoms. Per the State licensing entities, all new residents should be tested prior to being admitted to a facility.
- For a resident or program participant to be tested, first make arrangements with their medical provider or healthcare plan. A doctor will determine if he or she should be tested. If they do not have a medical provider, they can call 2-1-1.
- In addition to seeking testing from medical providers, there are various testing sites set up around the county. For more information, visit www.coronavirus-sd.gov/testing.
- For additional testing options through commercial laboratories, please see table below:
COVID-19 Testing Taskforce Lab List
N/A (see full list on CDPH website for San Diego County labs)
- Please review information from your licensing entity, such
- California Department of Public Health’s All Facilities Letters -2020.
- Department of Social Services- Community Care Licensing Division: https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/community-care-licensing
Will all nursing home workers and patients be required to get regular
- California Department of Public Health recommends that Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) conduct baseline, surveillance, and response-driven testing of SNF residents and healthcare personnel to prevent spread of infection in the facility.
- For detailed guidance, please review the All Facilities Letter (AFL) Summary AFL 20-53 here.
COVID-19 Preventative Actions
What should I do if I get COVID-19?
- You should call your doctor if you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
- If you do not have a primary care provider, please call 2-1-1.
- The CDC also has information on what to do if you are sick. Click here for more information.
What is the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 in congregate
settings, such as in an independent senior living community?
- The best practices to slow the spread of COVID-19 are to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, practice physical distancing (allowing 6 feet between you and other people), and wear a face covering. Click here to learn on how the virus spreads, symptoms and how to protect yourself.
- Please note that group gatherings outside of your immediate household are prohibited.
- There are many creative activities occurring now to encourage connection along with physical distance. Click here to view a list of ideas.
For Guidance related to care in Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE’s), also known as Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing Facilities, and other residential care facilities, please see the Long-Term Care and Residential Care Facilities Sector page here.
• How does the virus spread? Can the virus spread through food,
including restaurant take out, refrigerated or frozen packed food?
- The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be spread from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
- Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Before preparing or eating food it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for general food safety.
- Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Click here for more information on Food Safety.
- Throughout the day use a tissue to cover your coughing or sneezing, and wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.
For more information click here.
• Is there a resource or website link where it states that the facility
director oversees formulating a visitation policy and not the County?
- The County will not oversee the formulation of a visitation or
other operational policies for facilities. This will be the
responsibility of the facility. The County Public Health Order
provides local guidance and currently states that “non-essential
personnel” are prohibited from entering any hospital or long-term
care facility. However, it further defines “non-essential personnel”
as NOT INCLUDING:
- Non-essential personnel do not include visitors to hospitals and long-term care facilities who are granted entry by the facility’s director, or designee, because they are family or friends who are visiting a resident in an end of life or similar situation, are parents or guardians visiting a child who is a patient, or because of any other circumstances deemed appropriate by the facility director, or designee, and where appropriate precautions by the facility that follow federal, State, and local public health guidance regarding COVID-19 are followed.
- This can be found on page 7 of the County Public Health Order, section 22.d (as of 7/1/2020), at the following link.
- Facility directors should always confer with their licensing entities current guidance and for approval of any operational changes.
- The County will not oversee the formulation of a visitation or other operational policies for facilities. This will be the responsibility of the facility. The County Public Health Order provides local guidance and currently states that “non-essential personnel” are prohibited from entering any hospital or long-term care facility. However, it further defines “non-essential personnel” as NOT INCLUDING:
Programs, Services and Resources
What are some resources if air conditioning is not available for an
older adult who must shelter in place at a mobile home?
- To help our community members beat the heat, seven Cool Zones
locations have been opened throughout the
hottest areas of the County.
- These sites are open from 12 pm to 5 pm, Monday-Friday.
- Due to COVID-19, safety measures will be in effect to protect the health of Cool Zone visitors and staff. For more information click here.
- If you are unable
to visit a Cool Zone site, the County of San Diego has partnered
with SDG&E to provide free electric fans through the Cool Zones
- To be eligible, residents must not have access to an air-conditioned space at their home or apartment building and are on a limited income.
- To learn more about the program, or to request a fan, please call Aging & Independence Services at (800) 339-4661.
- To help our community members beat the heat, seven Cool Zones locations have been opened throughout the hottest areas of the County.
How can older adults and those with disabilities get connected to food
A variety of resources are available to ensure that older adults and those with disabilities are able to access healthy, nutritious food during these difficult times. Visit www.aging.sandiegocounty.gov and click on the link at the top of the page titled “COVID-19 Community Resources.”
If you have funds to pay for food, but would like to try commercial delivery options, check out the “Commercial Food Service” link. Learn about how to use online commercial food delivery services, such as UberEats and Doordash, with step-by-step instructional videos.
One new program is Great Plates Delivered. This program helps older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering meals to their homes. Following federal guidelines, the program is intended for seniors who are not currently receiving or eligible for any other federal nutrition benefits, such as Cal Fresh or the Senior Nutrition Program. To learn more, visit www.aging.sandiegocounty.gov and click on the “Great Plates Delivered Meal Program” button at the top of the page. Or, call (800) 339-4661 and select option “7.”
If finances are tight, check out the “Non-Profit Food Assistance” page under “COVID-19 Community Resources.” There you will find free food resources, such as the AIS home delivered meal program. You may also call 2-1-1.
Also, please note that CalFresh EBT cards can now be used to pay for grocery delivery. Visit http://mycalfresh.org for more information on CalFresh benefits, or you may call 2-1-1.
How can folks with special needs get the assistance they need?
Call 2-1-1, and an operator can work with you regarding your needs and identify programs to support you based on eligibility.
I receive IHSS. My caregiver tested positive. How do I receive
emergency caregiver support? What is the sick leave policy for IHSS
caregiver with COVID-19?
The Public Authority handles emergency caregivers and sick leave. For information pertaining to these matters, please contact your social worker or the Public Authority at 1-866-351-7722.
Ways to Help
If I am interested in volunteering with an organization to support the
community during this time, where do I go to get more information?
- JustServe.org is a website where organizations post their volunteer needs and volunteers may search for places to serve in the community. For more information visit Just Serve, at www.justserve.org and enter your City, State, or Zip to search for volunteer options.
- Aging &
Independence Services has created a Social
Engagement page to provide ways to stay connected to others
and your community from the comfort of your own home.
- To view the COVID-19 Edition: Ways to Engage resource flyer, click here.