BOCA RATON, Fla. — Carin Friedman and her 27-year-old son Gabe are close.
“Before COVID he would come home every Sunday and we would spend the day together,” she recalled.
Now, Gabe spends most of his days at his group home on JARC Florida’s campus in Boca Raton.
“Gabe has autism,” Friedman said.
She said she brought him for Thanksgiving but quarantining when he got back to the program wasn’t easy.
“He would FaceTime me and say no more stay in your room, no more stay in our room and it broke my heart because he almost felt like he was being punished, but he wasn’t,” Friedman explained. “It was for the safety of the other clients, for his safety.”
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities who get COVID-19 are three times more likely to die according to an analysis by FAIR Health.
“Routine is so important to their well-being and their own mental health,” Jeffrey Zirulnick said.
Zirulnick is the CEO of JARC Florida.
“We were very, very fortunate to be termed as a long-term care facility,” he said.
More than 100 residents and staff members were vaccinated Tuesday. The remaining 75 will get the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday.
“It the first step towards creating a more normal environment for us,” Zirulnick said.
“It’s just wonderful, he doesn’t know why he’s getting the shot, but I know why, and it makes me grateful as a parent,” Friedman said.