May 25, 2020

Coronavirus crisis exacts toll on people with disabilities


In this April 14, 2020, photo, Jodi Hansen walks with her son Jacob Hansen near their home, in Eagle Mountain. Even before the new coronavirus hit, cystic fibrosis meant a cold could put Jacob Hansen in the hospital for weeks. He relies on hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to keep germs at bay because has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, but these days shelves are often bare. For millions of disabled people and their families, the coronavirus crisis has piled on new difficulties and ramped up those that already existed. | Rick Bowmer, AP

SALT LAKE CITY — Even before the coronavirus hit, cystic fibrosis meant a cold could put Jacob Hansen in the hospital for weeks. He relies on hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to stay healthy because he also has cerebral palsy and can’t easily wash his hands from his wheelchair, but these days shelves are often bare.

For millions of disabled people and their families, the coronavirus crisis has piled on new difficulties and ramped up those that already existed. Many are immunocompromised and therefore more vulnerable to infection, but terrified of new coronavirus-era hospital guidelines they fear could put them at risk.

The leader of the U.N. said Wednesday the 1 billion people living with disabilities around the world have been among the hardest-hit by the virus. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for them to have equal access to prevention and treatment of COVID-19 as the pandemic exposes and intensifies global inequalities.

In the U.S., a number of states are moving toward reopening businesses shuttered by the virus, but many people with disabilities are staying behind closed doors, worried that more interaction could lead to a wave of new infections.

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“It’s honestly kind of scary, with my disability even the common sniffles could put me in the hospital,” said Hansen, who usually likes volunteering at the library and rubbing shoulders with superheroes at Comic-Con.

Hansen, 20, has done well with a new medication and was ready to start a grocery-store job near his Utah home before the virus hit, but the infection risk has put a stop to that for now. He used to have help from health care workers with things like eating and bathing, but they had to stop coming after one had a potential exposure. The coronavirus test turned out to be negative, but they decided the risk was too high. Now Jodi Hansen does most of those things for her son, bringing drinks, scratching itches and bathing him, even though she has a bad shoulder and is working 40 hours a week from home as a transition coordinator for the Utah Parent Center.

“I’ve definitely had one full panic attack,” said Jodi Hansen. “I look at my eyes in the morning. I’ve got bad undereye circles. I just don’t sleep well at all.”

Rick Bowmer, AP
In this April 14, 2020, photo, Jacob Hansen rides near his house, in Eagle Mountain. Even before the new coronavirus hit, cystic …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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