- Author: Guest Contributors - Cassidy Giampetro & Staci Sahoo
- Date: March 2, 2021
Source: King County Metro Transportation is essential to ensure the most vulnerable residents of King County receive vaccinations. Those without…
Despite the social-distancing measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people with disabilities, older adults who have lost the ability to drive, and other vulnerable populations still need access to life-sustaining rides (dialysis and cancer treatments, among others) as well as life-sustaining deliveries (groceries, meals & pharmacy prescriptions).
Human service agencies are either moving to remotely provide necessary medical, health and rehabilitative services or suspending them to prevent the spread of the virus. To ensure continuity of services wherever possible, mobility managers can help virtually convene stakeholders to take actions that expand access to transportation for people with disabilities that help them maintain health and wellness during this crisis.
It is important to understand that people with disabilities experience increased risk of contracting COVID-19, either due to underlying health conditions associated with their disability or the difficulty practicing social distancing due to required care or other supports. Some people with disabilities depend on regular help and support from external caregivers to maintain their independence — that is, their ability to live in their own homes rather than in nursing homes, group homes, and other institutional settings. Outbreaks of communicable disease like COVID-19 can disrupt these services. Aides and caregivers can become sick themselves, or the risk of catching or spreading illness may require aides and caregivers to stay home, interrupting services.
Some may have difficulties in implementing basic hygiene measures to keep the virus at bay. These difficulties include cleaning their homes and washing their hands frequently due to physical impairments, environmental barriers, or interrupted services.
What’s more, some people with chronic health conditions worry that they won’t be able to get the extra supplies of medications that are being recommended to the general public. Depending on the medications, and what kind of health insurance a person has, just getting regular refills in a timely manner can be a challenge, even when there isn’t a public health crisis.
The important thing to remember is that the risks of COVID-19 for people with disabilities can take many forms. The greater risks may not be from actual disease, but from the disruptions in services and routines it can cause, as evidenced by the letter written by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities to the DOT Secretary regarding transportation access and safety for people with disabilities during and after COVID-19 This underscores the necessity of mobility managers to ensure that individuals with disabilities have a continuity of supports.
Through understanding these supports and working with partners in the public health and disability services sector, mobility managers can support individuals with disabilities by:
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