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  • Writer's pictureRachel Gross

How Pandemics Disproportionately Effect Disabled People

By now, you're probably sick of all the coronavirus articles and mass hysteria. Trust me, I am too. But, out of all the articles that I've read, none of them even remotely touch on what is currently going on in the disability community. Since the coronavirus has hit literally every country, the rhetoric around it has been filled with ableism (discrimination against people with disabilities or chronic illnesses). Not sure what I mean? Here are some examples:

  1. "Oh, I'll be fine, it's only dangerous for the elderly or immunocompromised." Sure, the elderly and immunocompromised population has been effected at a way higher rate. You are definitely not wrong about that. But, what you're failing to realize is that they aren't the only population that is at a high risk. Disabled people, more specifically, those like myself, whose condition effects muscle strength is also at risk. I know for sure, if I end up catching it, or any illness on this scale, I'll be calling the hospital home for a little while.

  2. "It's just another flu." It's not, though. There's a reason why it's not called the corona influenza. While symptoms seem to be similar, COVID-19 is such a new disease that we have no way of preventing it, we have no immunity, and the fact that a person might not even show any symptoms and still be able to pass it on, is the scariest part. That's why it's so much more contagious than the typical flu.

  3. "I'm not sick, so why should I be quarantined?" Uhh...for the exact reason I said in the last one. People might not even know they have it and that they can infect others. If you are sick, or know you have been in contact with someone who tested positive, PLEASE STAY HOME! If not for your own sake, for mine.

  4. "Those with chronic illnesses, or those in high risk populations should self-quarantine." A few days ago, I made the decision to start social distancing. Living in New York, more and more cases are popping up around me every day. There's two cases in my town alone, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are more we don't know about. At this point, I'm not willing to put my health at risk. So, catch me chillin in my pajamas watching Netflix with a messy bun for the foreseeable future. But even though I've distanced myself, I'm not sure how much it'll help. My family still have to go about their lives and I have PAs coming and going all day. Of course, they all are being super conscience of their surroundings and diligent with their hand washing, but I'm still a little nervous that somehow a big germy boi will come into the house and find its way to me lol. The real question is, if someone like me, who relies on other people to live, is required to quarantine themselves because they are does that work????

  5. "JUST WASH YOUR HANDS!!" Oh, how I wish it was that easy. Do you know how many sinks I can use? Besides the one in my bathroom, I have never found a sink in a public facility that I can get my chair under. And on the rare occasions that I can fit under, I can't reach the faucet. I don't really touch many things anyway, but when I do, I usually go for a good purell scrubbing.

These are just a few of the comments that I've heard. But, besides this, able-bodied people have been given accommodations in which disabled people have asked for in the past but were denied. I personally know a few people who have had to drop out of school or quit their job because their request for distance learning and/or the opportunity to work from home was denied. The reason being that it was a "unreasonable accommodation." Now that people are so scared of the coronavirus, so many schools and businesses have proven that they do have the capabilities to make these accommodations. Disabled people need to remember this when this thing is over, because if anyone claims "unreasonable accommodation"...that's some bullllllllshit.

For more information on COVID-19, and how to prevent it: click here

Stay safe, stay healthy.

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