CDC, HUD Address COVID-19 Restrictions in Independent Living

Regulation | April 19, 2021 | by Juliana Bilowich

On an April 19 call for affordable senior housing providers and life plan communities, CDC officials reviewed current COVID-19 guidance and recommendations, and senior HUD staff previewed federal partnerships to increase vaccine take-up among HUD-assisted residents.

During a call for LeadingAge and Argentum members, CDC and HUD staff reviewed COVID-19 guidance, discussed vaccination data, and addressed “reopening” questions from providers of independent living communities serving older adults.

More than 300 LeadingAge and Argentum members joined the call, which featured Carolyn Bridges, MD, from CDC’s Older Adult Vaccination Team; Lisa McGuire, PhD, and Mary Good, PhD, from CDC’s Critical Populations Task Force; and Richard Cho, Senior Advisor for Housing and Services at HUD. The call also featured LeadingAge members, including Linda Coleman with HumanGood, an affordable senior housing provider based out of California, and Mark Beggs with the Edenwald life plan community.


CDC Recommendations for Retirement Communities and Independent Living

The CDC staff reviewed vaccine effectiveness and coverage rates by comparing COVID-19 vaccine take-up among adults aged 65 or older (81%) to influenza vaccine take-up for a flu season, which they reported as typically in the 70-72% range. Despite high vaccination rates, community COVID-19 transmission rates remain moderate to high in most parts of the country, which has the lead CDC experts to continue recommending a “proceed with caution” approach.

With many senior living communities navigating decisions around “reopening” communities, the CDC reemphasized current guidance that requires fully vaccinated people to continue risk mitigation strategies outside of the home or private setting for the time being. Specifically, CDC experts highlighted the importance of mask wearing, avoiding medium and large group gatherings, and avoiding eating or dining activities during which masks cannot be worn.

The recommendations are reflected in CDC’s current “Considerations for Retirement Communities and Independent Living Facilities,” which includes HUD-assisted multifamily housing.


HUD Previews Interagency Efforts to Increase Vaccine Access

Richard Cho, Senior Advisor to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, described the vast portfolio of HUD-subsidized units serving older adults, including hundreds of thousands of HUD Section 202 units, Multifamily Housing units, and Public Housing units. Cho also described COVID-19 risk factors for HUD-assisted older adults, including age and crowded living conditions, and stressed the importance of bringing equitable vaccine and testing access to HUD-assisted properties.

During the call, Cho previewed a new interagency effort through HUD and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to increase vaccine access and take-up among HUD-assisted residents. By building stronger partnerships between HUD properties (Multifamily, Public Housing, and homelessness assistance properties) and HRSA health centers, HUD will be providing tools for resident outreach, vaccine confidence, and even vaccine clinics in the coming “days or weeks.”

More information on CDC and HUD guidance related to COVID-19 risk and reopening independent living communities is available here.