Disabled persons at greater risk during COVID-19 pandemic

Disabled persons at greater risk during COVID-19 pandemic

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Disability advocates, like The Arc, say living in large settings are a danger to the disabled.

“Those are in fact, hot beds for COVID-19 right now. That’s why we’re seeing data that’s bearing out that people with disabilities because they are over represented in those types of settings are actually dying at a higher rate,” said Senior Director of Public Policy at the Arc, Nicole Jorwic.

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities says there are 29 positive cases and one death among patients in their hospitals. Ninety-nine staff members have tested positive and two have died.

“Part of the problem is, when you’re putting a group of people all together in one place a lot of those individuals may or may not have underlying health conditions and then you also have the same staff serving those individuals without the resources that they need.”

The CDC says those who have limited mobility, have trouble understanding or practicing preventative measures, or unable to communicate symptoms may be at an increased risk of COVID-19 or an unrecognized illness.

And those with a child with a intellectual developmental disability like Stacy Ramirez say education about on the virus is vital.

“Trying to be sure that he is safe and that I am safe, that we’re practicing washing our hands on a regular basis, you’re staying four feet or six feet away, for some people four feet away, that’s not even understood what that means,” said State Director Stacy Ramirez.

But she also says explaining the change in routine is difficult.

“The behaviors are escalating very quickly because they’re not able to do what they normally do. To change a schedule is hard for everybody involved. They don’t understand.”

Both Jorwic and Ramirez say once the worst has passed they’re hopeful for more inclusive conversations about the disabled community.

For more information from the Centers of Disease Control, go here.

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