COVID-19 Risk Varies Among Those With IDD, Study Finds
People with developmental disabilities face a greater chance of dying from COVID-19 as compared to others, but new research suggests that the risk is not shared equally among this population.
The virus is impacting people with developmental disabilities differently, largely depending on where they live, according to a study out this month in the Disability and Health Journal.
Researchers analyzed data on COVID-19 outcomes for people receiving developmental disabilities services in California between May and early October and compared their experiences to others in the state, which is the nation’s most populous.
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Overall, people with developmental disabilities were 60% less likely to get the virus, but among those who did, they faced a 2.8 times higher risk of death. However, the study found that among those in this population, the setting where they lived and how many people they lived with appeared to be significant predictors of risk.
“Among people with IDD who are living in their own home or a family home, the case rate is lower than the state overall, and their case-fatality rate is only slightly higher than that of the state,” said Scott Landes, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University who led the study.
But, for those living in group homes, institutions and other congregate settings, the story is quite different.
“For those people with IDD living in congregate settings, the degree to which the case rate is higher is related to the number of people in the type of residence — settings with more residents have higher case rates — while the case-fatality rate is substantially higher for those living in settings that provide skilled nursing care, likely indicating a higher prevalence of pre-existing conditions,” Landes said.
As more data becomes available, researchers said that additional analysis to determine whether these trends persist when controlling for age and pre-existing conditions is warranted.
The study comes as advocates are pushing for people with developmental disabilities to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines as they become available in the coming months, given the higher rates of death seen in this population.
A new report from the American Network of Community Options and Resources, or ANCOR, which represents disability service providers across the nation, found that just 10 states have explicitly addressed people with developmental disabilities in their plans to roll out coronavirus vaccines.