As we move into Week 6 (if I’m counting right), I feel like we’re starting to move into a new realization of all the ways this “new normal” is affecting us. I know I’m finding it harder to focus, with worry working its way into the crevices. This is how I was feeling when I wrote to the Washington Post last week, right after the article by Theresa Vargas – here’s her article (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/a-health-care-worker-chose-to-quarantine-with-a-disabled-man-who-has-covid-19-for-that-he-gets-4-more-an-hour-and-has-to-reuse-masks-and-gowns/2020/04/15/2f1bb9d0-7f4c-11ea-9040-68981f488eed_story.html) and my letter https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-time-of-hand-washing-and-hand-wringing/2020/04/19/798c8052-8010-11ea-84c2-0792d8591911_story.html. As of last Friday, 49 people receiving supports from DDS had come down with covid-19 (a rate about six times that of the general D.C. population), and 8 had died. Those numbers have increased since, and as a family member I am very concerned. I wish that all the providers would – without violating any staff privacy – provide regular updates to families, as is being done in other parts of the country. It wouldn’t change the facts, but such transparency would foster confidence and engender a stronger sense of community among those of us who are close to people receiving supports.
As you know, one way in which I’m trying to express my sense of community is by making, and encouraging others to make, fabric face coverings for our local direct support professionals (DSPs). Even though people may have concerns about them (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/coronavirus-masks-america/2020/04/18/bdb16bf2-7a85-11ea-a130-df573469f094_story.html), the guidance is now clear that wearing a face covering can reduce the likelihood that a person not yet showing symptoms will infect people around them. The mayor has issued a new order (https://coronavirus.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/coronavirus/publication/attachments/MayorsOrder2020.063.pdf) that they must be worn by everyone in groceries and most other public settings, and that DSPs and other home-care workers need to wear them as well. If they’re required, then they should be available, but I’’ll keep sewing them until someone tells me the official order has shipped. You can help - check the Quality Trust website for disability service providers who need homemade face masks: https://www.dcqualitytrust.org/.
I also want to share a couple of links to provide additional food for thought:
- First, this video prepared by Bob Williams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQFGCym-Rm0 reminds us how high the stakes are for people with disabilities in this pandemic period.
- Second, this article about the future of the public library https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/83093-public-libraries-after-the-pandemic.html is sobering, since we all know how crucial libraries are for our community.
Finally, the DD Council will have its first public meeting of the year this Thursday, April 23, 3-5 p.m. Please contact Alison Whyte (firstname.lastname@example.org) for dial-in information. Hope to see or hear you there.