People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) living in group homes are four times as likely to contract COVID-19, and nearly twice as likely to die from it, a new study suggests.
The infection rate for IDD group home residents in New York State, where the study was conducted, hit 7,841 per 100,000 people, compared to 1,910 for the overall population. Of group home residents who contract the disease, 15 percent die, compared to 7.9 percent of people in the state as a whole.
The study used data compiled by New York Disability Advocates, a coalition of organizations serving developmentally disabled people, and the New York State Department of Health. The study, covering the beginning of the pandemic to May 28, was published in Disability and Health Journal in late June.
Across the U.S., between 2.6 million and 4 million people with IDD live in communal accommodations, representing about 13 percent of the overall IDD population in the nation, according to the study. At the same time, there is scant health research into this population, “a trend that appears to persist during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the study's five authors wrote. “Highlighting this silence, the CDC only issued COVID-19 guidance relevant to this population in late May,” four months after the first case was reported in the United States.
As to why communal home residents are particularly at risk, “[t]here may be increased risk from COVID-19 for individuals living in congregate care settings due to the challenges these types of residence present to physical distancing,” the researchers said, noting that residents share bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.
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