CDC reports that approximately 90% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 have underlying conditions
Los Angeles, Califonia, April 15 – As the CDC reports that approximately 90% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 have underlying conditions, the nonprofit disability organization RespectAbility is inviting people with disabilities to share experiences and organize online.
Said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, “People with disabilities are disproportionally impacted by both the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. People with disabilities urgently need to be there for each other and to organize so leaders understand our lives and future are at stake.”
RespectAbility is inviting people with disabilities from across America to join in a series of Zoom gatherings. The purpose of the gatherings is for individuals to share experiences, brainstorm ideas, prioritize issues and bring solutions forward to decision makers and service providers. RespectAbility’s virtual events include separate sessions for people who are blind, use wheelchairs, are young adults with disabilities, have developmental disabilities, and for women with a variety of disabilities. Participants may choose one or more sessions to attend. Additional sessions will be added later.
People with disabilities who are at extreme risk from the virus have several other unique challenges. For example, people with disabilities who are living on their own have limited access to food. It’s vital for the government to urgently move so that people with disabilities who depend on SNAP benefits or the families of children with disabilities who use WIC can use them for online grocery deliveries and for delivery from local restaurants, avoiding risks of getting sick. Additionally, it’s vital to include people with significant disabilities in access to Meals on Wheels. A version of this is now helping the cities of Los Angeles and NYC to provide food delivery for people with disabilities, but most of the country has no such options. Said Mizrahi, “People with disabilities should not be forced to choose between food and risking their lives from COVID-19.”
Other key issues for people with disabilities include:
- The lives of people with disabilities in group and nursing homes are at risk from other residents and caregivers who may bring the virus into their facilities. They urgently need access to masks and other key protective materials.
- More online medical and mental health services is needed.
- Accessible and appropriate online education is necessary for students with disabilities.
- Immigrants with disabilities and their families must not be excluded from solutions to the current crisis.
- An inclusive employment-first focus needs to be front and center in all employment programs for when the crisis lifts.
All of the online zoom gatherings are free and open to people with disabilities. Captioning is provided for all gatherings, and RespectAbility welcomes other accommodation requests. More information and registration can be found online: https://www.respectability.org/2020/04/covid-19-gatherings.