The Look in Brief

COVID toll rises in Tennessee’s DIDD community

By: - September 13, 2021 5:00 am
(Photo: John Partipilo)

(Photo: John Partipilo)

As the COVID-19 delta strain continues to infect more Tennesseans, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities supported by state programs, and the staff members who care for them, have seen a notable uptick in infections since July as well.

DIDD programs serve a total of about 12,500 people with disabilities. At least 1,692 tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began — 118 since December of last year. Another 66 people have died, nine since December.

Covid infections among those served by the Department of Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) since July 16. “PS” = persons served. Source: DIDD

Many of those served in state programs have waited this past year out, with limited opportunities for outings, work and day programs.

The resurgence of the virus occurred just as many individuals were resuming those activities.

“We have had many people supported anxious to return to their jobs and community activities, and we want to make sure they are given opportunities to exercise that option, assess their own readiness and abilities to safely engage in community supports and think through the risks and benefits of this decision,” said Cara Kumari, assistant commissioner of education and external affairs.

“That said, anyone who wants to remain at home is able to do so and have access to Homebound services,” she said.

DIDD provides services to Tennesseans with intellectual disabilities, defined as possessing an IQ of 70 or less, and people with developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome, in order for them to live as independently as possible.

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism. Wadhwani lives in Nashville with her partner and two children.