CoVid-19 Update posted 5/12/20

All of us at CHOICE hope that you are staying healthy and safe! As always, our top priority at CHOICE is the health and safety of our participants and staff. Last week Governor Walz announced that some businesses may begin to re-open under certain circumstances and following strict, social distancing measures. We realize that there is a spectrum of thought on when it is safe to resume services. CHOICE has been following guidance from local authorities as well as the CDC. We are busy planning for the day that we can open our doors again and resume services for our participants. However, at this point CHOICE has determined that we will remain closed for the time being. We'd like to share with you some of the many factors that went into this decision;

● CHOICE is by definition, a "congregate" setting: This type of setting is considered to be of the highest risk for the spread of COVID-19, so we must be particularly cautious in returning to our facilities.

● CDC and MN Department of Health recommendations: The CDC and State Officials strongly recommend sustaining from social settings and gatherings until our community sees a downward trajectory in new positive COVID-19 cases over the course of 14 consecutive days. As of May 12, 2020 Minnesota (specifically Hennepin County) is still seeing a rapid rise in cases.

● Many of our participants are considered "high risk": CDC considers anyone over the age of 60, as well as those with underlying health conditions as the highest risk groups. A large percentage of our participants fall into these high risk groups, and we are committed to protecting their health and safety.

● We need a reliable source and stockpile of supplies: It will take some time to stock up on PPE, health screening tools, and cleaning supplies. These items are difficult to obtain at this time, but we are currently working on stocking up on these necessary supplies.

● Many of our employer partners remain closed or have laid off our workers: Without community job sites to go to, the majority of our participants will be looking to utilize our in-house services, and we will not be able to maintain proper social distancing guidelines within our facilities.

● The nature of "direct care": In order for our staff to provide the proper care and assistance to our participants, direct or close contact is frequently used to ensure their safety. We must strongly consider the nature of our work in comparison to other industries before we resume in-person services.

CHOICE's preference is always to stay open and provide services. We understand that a closure of this length creates hardship for many of you. The decision to remain closed is made with careful consideration, and with the best interest of those we serve in mind.

What is CHOICE currently doing to plan for a re-open at a future date?

• Creating a robust COVID-19 Preparedness Plan which includes measures for safety, training and response to a confirmed case of COVID-19.
• Strategizing new facility layouts to optimize social distancing in our buildings and rethinking how our services may look different when we return.
• Planning for even better environmental sanitation including purchasing commercial equipment.
• Obtaining PPE's, hand sanitizer and touchless thermometers for health screenings when we reopen.
• Prepping a survey for families and guardians regarding their thoughts and concerns about reopening (coming soon).

We look forward to safely resuming service. We will keep you informed of any and all changes to this situation. Thank you for your understanding and continued support of CHOICE!