COVID-19

This page features disability news on COVID-19 from the Debrief Library. See also news on other subjects.

Impact

International

International Perspectives: Disabilities, Social Connectedness, and COVID-19 the experiences of three Special Olympics International (SOI) connected families and how they navigated the pandemic. (Jul, Samuel Centre for Social Connectedness)

Millions of older people have died without being counted. WHO estimates 83% of excess mortality was among older people. (May, HelpAge)

Five ways older women are affected by the pandemic. “With only 35% of older women confirming daily mobility out of their house by themselves, 2 in 3 older women faced restricted mobility.” (Mar, UN Women)

Bangladesh

The pandemic has exacerbated the challenges faced by persons with disabilities

'16-year-old Eemon, who has a visual disability, said, "We are very ill-fated that our education has come to a halt for the past two years." Eemon had to join a courier service as a worker to support his family, as other members faced income loss as a result of the pandemic. It is highly unlikely that he will go back to his much-loved school, even though schools have reopened.' (Dec, The Daily Star)

Canada

Outcomes in patients with and without disability admitted to hospital. "Patients with a disability who were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 had longer stays and elevated readmission risk than those without disabilities." (Jan, CMAJ)

Europe

An important collection of synthesis reports on COVID-19 and people with disabilities assessing the impact of the crisis and informing disabiliyt-inclusive next steps. (Jul)

United Kingdom

Covid-19 and the Crisis in Social Care: Exploring the Experiences of Disabled People in the Pandemic: “the social care crisis has challenged the goal of independent living.”. (Apr, CUP)

Health and healthcare for people with disabilities in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic: “As the UK opens up, it is important that health care services and social policy address the poor mental health and social isolation of people with disability so that the inequalities occurring early in the pandemic do not become further entrenched.” (Jan, Disability and Health Journal)

COVID-19 pandemic impact on psychotropic prescribing for adults with intellectual disability: an observational study in English specialist community services: "The pandemic caused an increase in psychotropic prescribing associated with lockdown severity and urban settings." (Jan, BJPsych)

United States

COVID continues to hit nursing homes harder, “Cases are surging everywhere, and nursing home residents remain more likely to face severe illness and death.” (Jul, 19th News)

Employment Consequences of COVID-19 for People with Disabilities and Employers. "The pandemic adversely affected employment of PWD as reported by workers and employers. Findings parallel the experience of the non-disabled workforce, but reveal vulnerabilities that reflect disability consequences and the need for job accommodations." (Jan, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation)

"COVID-19 Likely Resulted in 1.2 Million More Disabled People by the End of 2021" More information would be needed to substantiate the claim about 1.2 million disabled people, as it’s not clear whether higher numbers are due to changes in individual circumstances or changes in the environment. (Thanks to Jennifer Madans for background on this., Feb, American Progress)

Response

International

After 2 Years of Covid, We’re Still Failing Older People. Part of a series marking the two year anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic:

"Two years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, governments around the world are still failing to protect the rights of older people. From ageist comments by public figures to persistent staffing shortages and use of chemical restraints in care homes, the protection of older people’s rights has been put under the spotlight like never before -- and comes up lacking." (Mar, Human Rights Watch)

Key Concepts: Human Rights and the Economy a series on human rights on the economic recovery from the COVID crisis. (Not about disability - but maybe useful context, Feb, CESR)

An evidence brief on How can health and social care services promote the safety and well-being of people with intellectual disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic in LMICs? (Nov, Disability Evidence)

Australia

Living with COVID-19 in the time of OMICRON: Escalating risks for people with disability in Australia and recommendations how to address them. (Jan, Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health)

Canada

Quebecers with disabilities struggle with rapid tests, say advocates after the province ran out of PCR tests for the general public. (Jan, CBC)

Accessibility of Canadian COVID-19 Testing Locations for People with Disabilities During the Third Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: "more than a year into the pandemic, there existed a clear lack of accessibility information for Canadian testing locations for people with disabilities." (Dec, MedRxiv)

Germany

German Court Orders Protection of People with Disabilities in Triage Decisions

'The court found the legislature had failed “to take measures to ensure that no one is at risk of being disadvantaged on the basis of disability in the allocation of life-sustaining treatment if shortages in intensive care resources arise.” The court ordered lawmakers to introduce stronger measures based on the constitutional right to nondiscrimination. They should consider disability rights training for medical staff and the creation of stronger procedures to identify disabilities.'

See also the statement from the court or coverage on the guardian (Jan, Human Rights Watch)

New Zealand

Mixed response from disability advocates over Covid welfare support funding. (Jun, Stuff)

Reporting on an inquiry into how government response to the Omicron wave impacted disabled people: they "do not appear to have been given prominence in government policy and decision making," (May, RNZ)

'Oh well, we'll all get it' attitude to Omicron ignores increased risk to people with disabilities (Mar, Stuff)

Philippines

Supporting OPDs Covid-19 response: reflections from the Philippines (Dec, CBM Australia)

Sweden

Evaluation of science advice during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden “Many elderly people were administered morphine instead of oxygen despite available supplies, effectively ending their lives.” (Mar, Humanities and Social Sciences Communications)

United Kingdom

‘They gave her a bed to die in’: family of woman with Down’s Syndrome denied intensive care seek answers from Covid-19 inquiry. (Jul, the Guardian)

Disabled people are being left out of COVID recovery. “Here are five ways to change that” (Apr, the Conversation)

United States

People with Disabilities and COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments “Persons with disabilities were significantly more likely to spend their checks on basic needs, like food and rent, and less likely to spend on second-order items like charity or savings. These results suggest that future stimulus efforts should consider an increased amount for persons with disabilities.” (May, Journal of Poverty)

The White House releases a plan to help people who are especially vulnerable to Covid-19. (Feb, NYT)

Disabled Deaths Are Not Your “Encouraging News” '“Comorbidities” is a weaselly, cruel, violent word.' (Jan, Disability Visibility Project)

A letter to the health authorities responding to CDC comments that had referred to the deaths of those 'unwell to begin with': "The public health response to COVID-19 has treated people with disabilities as disposable." See more on Huffpost (link to pdf, Jan, coalition of disability organizations)

High-Risk Pandemic Stories: A Syllabus. "We are not alone" (Jan, Disability Visibility Project)

Biden and CDC's Covid-19 variant guidelines "have disabled people feeling left for dead" (Jan, MSNBC)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions details when COVID-19 can be a disability including if you get fired because of having symptoms of COVID-19 (Dec, The Hill)

Vaccination

Australia

Australian vaccine contractor prioritises aged care "NDIS participant vaccine rates remain lower than general population" (Jan, the Guardian)

United Kingdom

Booster jabs are vital – why is it so difficult for clinically vulnerable people to access them? (Dec, the Guardian)

Living with COVID

International

Long covid could change the way we think about disability (Jun, Washington Post)

Many Long COVID Patients Identify as Disabled and Feelings Are Complicated (May, Verywell Mind)

Pandemics disable people — the history lesson that policymakers ignore Why the complacency over possible long-term effects of COVID-19? (Feb, Nature)

Canada

High-risk Canadians feel forgotten as rules lift: “Can't we have lives too?” (Mar, CTV News)

Chronic exhaustion, derailed lives and no way out. This is long COVID. (Jan, Maclean's)

New Zealand

For those of us with disabilities, lockdown won’t end as long as Covid strategies leave us behind (Dec, the Guardian)

Norway

When you talk about "those who are going to die from something anyway" then you are talking about me. "Aren't I, a human being, worth more than the local pub?" (in Norwegian, google translate makes sense, Jan)

United States

Rest May Be the Best Treatment for Long COVID. Our Disability Policies Should Reflect That. “The continuing crisis around long COVID should inspire policymakers to embrace a more flexible frame of reference around what it means to be disabled, and to design more generous short-term disability policies, including a federal short-term disability benefit. Allowing long haulers to rest in the short term might help them avoid years or decades of significant, often disabling long-term health consequences.” (Jul, TCF)

Many try to return to normal from COVID, but disabled people face a different reality “All we're really asking for is for a masking policy that will allow us to be able to go to the store, to go to the doctor, go get the mail, without risking [our health],” (Jul, NPR)

Patients with long covid symptoms face tough disability benefit fights: "Patients and doctors say safety net is unprepared for novel claims stemming from the pandemic". (Mar, Washington Post)

The Millions of People Stuck in Pandemic Limbo 'Each individual infection is its own high-stakes gamble. [...] Over the past year, as many Americans reveled in their restored freedoms, many immunocompromised people felt theirs shrinking.':

'As the coronavirus moves from a furious boil to a gentle simmer, many immunocompromised people (like everyone else) hope to slowly expand their life again. But right now, “it’s like asking someone who cannot swim to jump into the ocean instead of trying a pool,” [...]'

'Beyond equitable access to treatments, the people I spoke with mostly want structural changes—better ventilation standards, widespread availability of tests, paid sick leave, and measures to improve vaccination rates. Above all else, they want flexibility, in both private and public spaces. That means remote-work and remote-school options, but also mask mandates for essential spaces such as grocery stores and pharmacies [...] But in terms of what individual people can do for them, the most common request I heard was: Just have a heart. Regardless of your own choices, don’t jeer at us for being mindful of our higher risks, and definitely don’t tell us that our lives are worth less.' (Feb, The Atlantic)

At-Home Coronavirus Tests Are Inaccessible to Blind People: “It’s your personal health information, you should be the first to know." (Jan, NYT)

What Does ‘Living With Covid-19’ Mean For Disabled And Chronically Ill People? A useful balanced view of pessimistic and hopeful outcomes. (Dec, Forbes)