Access Living Statement on Return to COVID-19 Phase 3 in Illinois
November 17, 2020 — Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker today announced a statewide rollback to Phase 3 COVID-19 mitigation strategies, to combat the spiraling increase in COVID-19 infections and deaths. Access Living supports these measures to protect the lives of all Illinoisans, especially those most at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
Over the many months of the pandemic, Illinoisans with disabilities, especially in Black and Brown communities, have continued to face barriers to critical supports and services. The disproportionate rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths among people with pre-existing conditions has only escalated. Moreover, people with disabilities have borne the brunt of limited access to healthcare, education, and mental health supports, as well as access to public transportation and socialization. Those who can least afford extended barriers to supports have also been the people at greatest risk as the pandemic intensifies.
“In particular, we remain gravely concerned for people with disabilities, seniors, and others in congregate settings throughout Illinois,” said Daisy Feidt, Access Living’s Executive Vice President. Those who live or work in congregate settings—such as nursing homes, facilities housing people with developmental disabilities and/or mental health issues, and jails/prisons— have either died or been infected with COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates. “The ongoing effort to transition these persons into the community during Phase 3 is essential,” Feidt said.
Furthermore, as intensive care units fill with COVID-19 victims, Illinois will come much closer to needing to exercise decisions about who may or may not get emergency care. This is why Access Living worked this year with the Illinois Department of Human Rights to ensure that the state’s guidance on non-discrimination in crisis standards of care will not discriminate against people with disabilities and other marginalized groups.
Access Living strongly urges Illinoisans to follow the Phase 3 mitigation strategies set by the Illinois Department of Public Health, including social distancing, appropriate use of masks, limiting travel, as well as limiting indoor gatherings. We continue to operate our programs remotely via phone and Internet. Access Living also continues to maintain a page dedicated to COVID-19 resources for people with disabilities at this link. People with disabilities in need of further supports or resources should contact us by phone or email form at this link.