CT Mirror: ‘A veil of guilt comes over you’: Covid-19 hard for people with intellectual disabilities and those who love them

By Kathleen Megan

Cynthia Girgenti lives only a few blocks from the Coventry group home where her brother, Kevin, has lived for the past year. She has been used to seeing him several times a day. She’d have breakfast with him and have him over for dinner most nights.

She would take him shopping, clean his room and participate in many group homes activities.

“I’m not the type to drop [him] and run,” she said. “The home is an extension of family.”

So it wasn’t easy for her when she got the news several weeks ago that because of COVID-19, she would not be able to visit him at the home, which is operated by the Hartford-based nonprofit Oak Hill. Nor would she be able to take her brother, who is 52 and severely autistic, on outings unless she wanted to take him home with her for the duration of the outbreak.

“A veil of guilt comes over you,” said Girgenti, who lives in neighboring Tolland. “If I don’t take him home and he gets ill, how am I going to feel about that?”

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