Dear Access Living friends and allies,
Well, it’s Monday morning and we hope that you all are staying safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Over the weekend, here in Illinois a statewide shelter-in-place order went into effect on Saturday. Here is a link from WGN on what people can and cannot do during the Illinois shelter-in-place.
Illinois Home Services Program (HSP) Update: See this link for expended guidance for HSP customers and providers. It includes clarity on temporary exceptions allowed, and what to do given that the Illinois DRS physical offices are closed. Personal attendants ARE considered essential workers so they can still go to work.
Congress Had An Intense Weekend: Over the weekend, Congressional leaders and staff engaged in furious work on the third COVID-19 stimulus package. Disability advocates pushed hard to bring attention to disability COVID-19 needs as laid out in this paper (thank you advocates for sending over 4,000 messages so far!).
However, Senator McConnell moved yesterday to close debate on the bill, known as the CARES Act, but his motion failed due to opposition concerns that the bill did not do enough for working people or healthcare providers. Disability concerns were left out, by and large. At the same time, one Senator (Rand Paul of Kentucky) tested positive for COVID-19 and four others self-quarantined. Senator Durbin of Illinois and Senator Portman of Ohio put forward a motion to allow the Senate to vote remotely given the virus problem. Tempers are, needless to say, very short on the Hill right now. A lot of people are frustrated.
We Need Your Help TODAY: So, now we have to get back to work taking action to push Congress not to leave us out! Access Living’s action alert is still live at this link; we need you all to do it again TODAY! Also, a cool Twitter tool has been developed at this link to help people tweet out about disability issues. The hashtags in current use are #WhatWeNeed, #ProtectAllPeople, #DisabilityDemands and #SeeUsSchumer. Several national disability organizations have also put out action alerts, so please help support them too.
Pro tip: with a quickly moving situation like this, bear in mind that if you took action last week, that was….last week. What matters to Congress is what they are hearing TODAY. So please do take action and ask your family/friends to do so as well!
Be Wary of Health Care Rationing: The disability advocate Ari Ne’eman has an op-ed in the New York Times about staying aware of disability discrimination in this time of the COVID-19 crisis. The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund also wrote an excellent letter to Governor Newsom of California on prohibiting healthcare rationing. As health systems prepare for possible shortages, there’s been a lot of talk about how to prioritize access to key equipment like ventilators, which leads into a discussion of who “deserves” to be saved. Often, people with disabilities may not be on that list, so we urge you to remind healthcare providers that disability discrimination is still not acceptable in times of emergency.
Things continue to move very fast so do keep an eye on the news. At the same time, we understand that people need to be taking care of themselves right now. We thank all of you for doing your very best.