Families Of New Yorkers With Developmental Disabilities Call For COVID Restrictions To Be Eased

There's a call to ease COVID restrictions for some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers. Those with developmental disabilities, along with family members, are asking New York state to ease certain guidelines, especially for those who are fully vaccinated; CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.

Video Transcript

KRISTINE JOHNSON: There's a call to ease COVID restrictions for some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

DICK BRENNAN: Those with developmental disabilities along with family members are asking New York state to ease certain guidelines, especially for those who are fully vaccinated. CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports.

ANDREA GRYMES: Robyn Lipshutz never thought getting the COVID vaccine would mean she still needs to quarantine for 14 days if someone at her Long Island group home tests positive.

ROBYN LIPSHUTZ: Yes, I know you're trying to protect me, but I'm wearing a mask, I'm fully vaccinated, and they're telling me I'm still stuck in this house. That's unacceptable.

ANDREA GRYMES: She spoke out at a virtual news conference with family members, advocates for the developmentally disabled, and Long Island Assemblywoman Melissa Miller. They're imploring the state health department to update its COVID protocols for group homes.

MELISSA MILLER: I have received countless emails, phone calls, messages from frustrated families. They cannot understand why their loved one, who resides in a group home, must repeatedly quarantine for 14 days after an exposure, even though they have been fully vaccinated.

ANDREA GRYMES: The latest New York state health department guidance says those who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine after exposure unless they show symptoms. Advocates say that same standard should apply to group homes, too. Suzanne Reek's 21-year-old nonverbal son, Joseph, is vaccinated and lives at this home in Lido Beach.

SUZANNE REEK: My son, for four months we were not able to see him. And now we have the potential again to have this happen.

ANDREA GRYMES: The state health department referred us to the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. A spokesperson there says they are quote, "currently reviewing our quarantine requirements for group homes, which are consistent with CDC and New York State Department of Health issued guidelines. We understand family concerns and we will continue to work with state and federal authorities to ensure people are safely supported with the least restrictions possible." In Lido Beach, Long Island, Andrea Grymes, CBS 2 News.

DICK BRENNAN: Now group home advocates are also calling for mandatory COVID testing for staff. The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities says it continues to require daily health screenings for anyone entering facilities and recommends testing for those with symptoms.