People with developmental disabilities who live in group homes are significantly more likely than others to contract the coronavirus and die from it, a new study finds.

Researchers looked at the experiences of 20,431 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities residing in group homes in New York state as compared to those of the state’s general population from the start of the pandemic through May 28.

Among group home residents, there were 7,841 cases of diagnosed COVID-19 per 100,000 people. That figure was substantially lower — 1,910 per 100,000 — for the state as a whole.

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Moreover, people with developmental disabilities in the study who contracted COVID-19 were nearly twice as likely to die. Researchers found that 15 percent of group home residents who got the virus died compared to 7.9 percent of other coronavirus patients in New York state.

The findings published online in the Disability and Health Journal in late June come from researchers who were behind a May study which found a much higher COVID-19 fatality rate among those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The results of this present study reinforce our initial study that showed higher case-fatality rates among people with IDD,” said Margaret Turk of the SUNY Upstate Medical Center who worked on the studies. “People with IDD are a poorly recognized and vulnerable group that does not often receive adequate attention within society in general, and within our health care system in particular. Further research is needed to determine the possible effects that access to — or quality of — medical care has on COVID-19 outcomes for this group.”

The researchers said that the higher rate of adverse outcomes for people with developmental disabilities may be due in part to a higher prevalence of co-occurring conditions associated with more severe cases of COVID-19. But they also said that living situations for many people in this population are also likely to blame.

“We are concerned that these severe outcomes may be more related to the current design of the IDD service system in the United States, in which states rely heavily on providing care in congregate settings with limited support and resources,” said Scott Landes, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University who led the new study. “This is proving deadly during the current pandemic.”

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