Independence Care System (ICS) recently hosted Center for Independence of the Disabled –NY (CIDNY) for a workshop focused on COVID-19 testing and tracing for people with disabilities.

More than 20 participants attended the online workshop, “Helping to Keep you and your Loved Ones Safe,” which included information on COVID-19. Presenters highlighted coronavirus safety measures, specifics about the COVID-19 test, the importance of being tested as well as resources to stay healthy and informed.

CIDNY discusses coronavirus and safety measures

CIDNY Education Director Margi Trapani spoke about the coronavirus, providing an overview of the virus, its symptoms and how the virus is spread. She noted symptoms of the severe respiratory virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and loss of taste or smell, and emphasized that not all people show symptoms. According to the CDC, the virus is spread mainly from person-to-person, often who are within six feet of one another.

Ms. Trapani also reiterated recommended safety measures to protect oneself against the virus, including frequently washing your hands and using hand sanitizers with 60% alcohol, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, covering coughs or sneezes, and avoiding contact with people who are sick. Wearing a face mask if outside is especially important.

COVID-19 testing in New York

Ms. Trapani spoke about the COVID-19 diagnostic test that uses a nasal swab, oral swab or saliva sample to test for infection. People with or without symptoms are encouraged to get tested. People should especially take the test if they feel they’ve been exposed to the virus.

“The test is free, you don’t need insurance and results are confidential,” Ms. Trapani said. “Results usually take 3-5 days, and you will not be asked for immigration or citizenship status.”

There are hundreds of testing sites throughout New York City, Ms. Trapani said, and appointments are not needed. Some sites may charge, and it is best to call ahead of time to ask.

COVID-19 tracing

People who test positive for the coronavirus will be contacted by New York City Tracers, who are responsible for checking in to ask if you need support, ask for names of people you have come into contact with, and explain how long you have to quarantine.

Ms. Trapani emphasized that participants be careful when speaking with tracers to avoid potential scams. Tracers will not ask for your social security number, or personal or financial information. If you cannot be reached at home, tracers may visit your home, and provide identification when doing so.

CIDNY and participants discusses COVID-19

Following the presentation, the workshop featured a question and answer session where participants asked questions about COVID-19 and spoke about their respective lives as people with disabilities. Participants also received a fact sheet on COVID-19 testing with links to resources and a fact sheet on COVID-19 tracing.

ICS member Robert Acevedo asked about tracers and how they assist people who contracted the coronavirus.

“They find out how you’re doing, and if you need help or support or healthcare,” Ms. Trapani said. “They will be asking you about people you’ve been in contact with.”

Participants also discussed the COVID-19 test, their experiences with taking it and offered preparation advice.

“My disability makes me jump,” ICS member Manyon Lyons said. “The test doesn’t hurt, but it is very uncomfortable. If you can take a muscle relaxer to stay comfortable, you should.”

Manyon also inquired who aside from personal aides could assist people with disabilities in visiting a site for testing. ICS Director of Communication Regina Weiss said ICS staff are available to help members with COVID related questions and problems including help identifying an accessible testing site, accompanying members to a test if needed, and making sure that members are getting needed supplies, medical care, social services and home care during this time.

To view CIDNY’s full presentation, click here.