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Media Release: DIDD Sees Steep Decline in COVID Infections Since Start of Vaccinations

Monday, March 08, 2021 | 12:47pm

DIDD Sees Steep Decline in COVID Infections Since Start of Vaccinations
Persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and staff prioritized in Phase 1a1 of State Plan

NASHVILLE—The number of new COVID infections in both persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and staff have decreased more than 80 percent from December 2020 to February 2021, a time when both groups were prioritized for vaccinations under the state plan.

Tennessee was the first state in the nation to prioritize people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Phase 1a1 of its vaccination plan. The first doses to this population were administered in late December, and since that time thousands of persons supported and staff have received at least one dose.

“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Tennessee have a higher chance of dying from COVID, and it was important to Gov. Lee and this state to ensure they were prioritized for vaccination as soon as possible,” said Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) Commissioner Brad Turner. “It’s clear that this decision saved lives.”

The data reflects the number of positive cases among people receiving services through the state’s three Medicaid-funded programs for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and staff working for contracted community-based providers. Positive cases among persons supported in the programs dropped more than 84 percent from a high of 349 in December 2020 to 54 in February 2021. Staff cases dropped almost 83 percent.

“This past year has been very isolating for many people with disabilities who often stayed home to maintain their health and safety during the pandemic,” Turner said. “As more people we support are becoming fully vaccinated, they are returning to their work, their community activities, and are able to safely visit with family and friends again.

graph of positive covid testing counts

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About the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) is the state agency responsible for administering services and support to Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Every day, the department strives to support approximately 12,000 people to live rewarding and fulfilling lives through Medicaid waiver Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), state operated ICF/IIDs, and the Family Support Program. DIDD also provides services to children ages birth up to age three with disabilities or developmental delays through the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS), and children under the age of 18 with disabilities or complex medical needs through the Katie Beckett Program. The department supports all Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities live the lives they envision for themselves by ensuring people are free to exercise rights, engage with their broader communities and experience optimal health. DIDD is the first state service delivery system in the nation to receive Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation from the Council on Quality and Leadership. It has also been recognized as a national leader in its efforts to increase competitive, community-based employment outcomes for people with disabilities and its commitment to enhancing independence through Enabling Technology.