March 14, 2020

Dear Self Advocates and Supporters,

We are all aware that COVID-19 also known as the Coronavirus has made its way to Maine. Here at SUFU, we want you to know that we take your health and safety seriously.

It is really hard to ‘stay calm’ when it seems that everyone is panicking. There have been a lot of confusing things in the news, and some of the information can cause you to feel anxious and scared. These are all real and normal reactions to situations like this.
This letter will tell you about a few things:
1. The action steps that SUFU is taking to protect its members and what this means for future activities and events.
2. How you can stay safe and protect yourself from getting any illnesses including coronavirus, influenza, or even the common cold.
3. Steps you should take in case you do end up getting ill, and when to “Know When To Go” to see a doctor or to the Emergency Room.
4. Resources that you can turn to for more information.
SUFU Action Steps
• Starting March 16th, SUFU will be moving all chapter meetings to happen over the phone or video conferencing. We are working to set up the call-in number and video links for each chapter. Your chapter advisor will be contacting you to give you the information on how to call in to your meetings. The meetings will take place at the same time and date as usual.
• Advocacy Day has been cancelled due to the State House and Legislature shutting down early. SUFU will be working out a plan on how to still make connections with your legislators. This information will be communicated in the next few weeks.
• The Chapter Representative Meeting will happen via phone or video conferencing on March 26th. We have some important stuff to talk about that is time sensitive. This meeting will not be as long as usual and will run from 10AM-12PM. The call-in information for this meeting will be sent out some time next week.
• The Board of Directors meeting scheduled for April 8th is currently still planned to take place as scheduled. SUFU will continue to monitor the situation and decide as the date gets closer if any changes need to take place.
• The Leadership Program will go on as scheduled at this time. SUFU will continue to monitor the situation and decide to postpone, if necessary, as the date gets closer.
Staying Safe
• Wash your hands! This means, wash them a lot!
• Practice what is called Social Distancing. This means that people stop getting together in public places and stay home. This makes it less likely to come into contract with someone who has the virus and can spread it to you. The virus is an airborne virus that is spread from person to person in the air by coughing, sneezing, or talking.
• If you can’t stay home, try to keep your personal space and wash your hands! Close personal contact with others can spread the virus through touching, shaking hands, hugs and more.
• Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth. This is the way that germs can get into your body. Touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes can spread the virus.
• Reach out to a friend or family member to talk about any concerns you may have. Use the phone, email, or messaging to stay connected. It is important not to isolate during this time. While the way we interact with others might look a little different than it normally does, we all need to check in on each other.
• Ask your service provider about their Continuum of Care Plan. This is a plan that your provider should have to make sure that you still get the services you need, even when there are emergencies. This plan might include making sure you have enough medications, food, and medical care during an emergency.
If You Do Get Sick
• If you do feel sick, don’t panic! People get sick with cold viruses all the time. Most people recover at home within a couple weeks of getting sick.
• Tell someone you trust how you are feeling and describe your symptoms. This will help you to make decisions about when you might need to go to the doctor.
• It is also important for caregivers to people living with disabilities to be aware of behavior changes. People with disabilities tend to communicate in different ways when they are feeling sick. They also might not say anything at all.
• The symptoms of COVID-19 may include:
o Fever and Chills
o Cough
o Difficulty Breathing
o Sore Throat.
• Symptoms will appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. If you have these symptoms contact your local doctor’s office to get information about where to be tested for the virus. Follow your doctor’s directions and stay home to avoid getting others sick.
• The Maine CDC is asking people to not go to the Emergency to reduce exposure to others. Call your doctor’s office for directions rather than just showing up at the Emergency Room.
• Remember, many patients will have mild symptoms and can get better at home.

Know When To Go
• If some of your symptoms change or get worse, you may need to seek urgent care. It is important to talk with someone you trust and call your doctor’s office if this happens. Talking with people who support you about your symptoms will be helpful in deciding if your illness has gotten worse.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If anyone experiences these changes it is important to seek immediate urgent care.
• Difficulty breathing or Shortness of Breath
• Persistent pain or pressure on the chest
• New confusion or inability to arouse
• Blueish lips or face
• This list does not include all emergency warnings, so call your doctor’s office if something else has changed.

There are many additional resources for people who want to have more information. SUFU has compiled a few news articles and links to the CDC website. Please remember, during this time there is a lot of incorrect information going around on social media. Do not believe everything you are reading online. Stay calm and WASH YOUR HANDS!

Maine CDC Website

US CDC Website

A great visual from the CDC on how you can be decrease the spread of coronavirus

Article from the Portland Press Herald

Maine has 2 more possible coronavirus cases, including a Portland health worker

Other links you may find helpful

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