Officials at the Department of Health and Human Services announced they were writing regulations that, if formalized by Congress, would represent a significant expansion of disability civil rights law. Among other measures, the regulations would explicitly prohibit medical workers from denying care to people with disabilities or issuing Do Not Resuscitate orders based on subjective judgments about patients’ quality of life.
President-elect Joe Biden announced plans for a sweeping Covid relief and economic stimulus package that would include closing the loophole that allows certain businesses to pay employees with disabilities subminimum wage and raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. Biden’s proposal, called the American Rescue Plan, would also include one-time $1,400 checks for most individuals, a national vaccination program, increased support to state and local governments and boosted unemployment insurance, among other measures.
The Post reports that “most states make no mention of disabilities in their vaccine plans,” even though research indicates that having a developmental disability significantly increases a person’s risk of dying after contracting Covid. States also differ on whether to give high vaccination priority to people with disabilities who live in congregate settings, direct support professionals and home health aides. Some disability community leaders say this is part of a trend of policymakers disregarding the community’s needs during the pandemic.
Delaware public health officials are planning to hold weekend drive-through vaccination events at Division of Motor Vehicles facilities to inoculate all health care workers who have not yet received a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of January. Several pharmacies are also about to start offering vaccinations. Current state outreach focuses on home health professionals, staff at dialysis centers and direct support professionals.
Turn the Page SLPs, an organization created by a 2020 graduate of UD’s speech-language pathology program, is donating books with more diverse characters to speech-language pathologists across Delaware. The idea came from research founder Sierrah Harris conducted as a student, which revealed that three-quarters of children’s books published featured only white people or animals as characters.