Disability Advocates Alarmed By CDC’s New COVID Guidelines

New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that treat COVID-19 much like the flu or RSV have advocates concerned that the ramifications for people with disabilities could be serious. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sharply reducing its isolation recommendations for those who test positive for COVID-19, a decision that advocates say puts people with disabilities at undue risk.

The agency said late last week it would eliminate the recommended five-day isolation period after a positive COVID-19 test. Instead, the CDC will now urge people with the virus to stay home and away from others, but says they can return to normal activities when they are fever-free and their symptoms improve for at least 24 hours without the use of fever. Reduce medications.

He updated COVID-19 guidelines align with recommendations for other common respiratory diseases such as influenza and RSV.

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The changes come as the United States sees fewer hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19, the CDC said. The agency noted that states and countries that have already adjusted their recommendations have not seen an increase.

Additionally, officials said having a unified approach for respiratory viruses will make recommendations easier to follow and compliance more likely since it does not rely on testing.

“(This) announcement reflects the progress we have made in protecting against serious illness caused by COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen. “However, we still need to use the common sense solutions that we know work to protect ourselves and others from serious illness caused by respiratory viruses; this includes vaccination, treatment, and staying home when we get sick.”

Once people are cleared to resume normal activities under the new guidelines, recommendations say they should wear a mask, keep distance from others, practice enhanced hygiene and take other preventive measures for five days. These precautions are particularly important to protect those who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, the CDC said.

Maria Town, executive director of the American Association of People with Disabilities, or AAPD, said that while she appreciates the CDC’s recommendation to maintain certain preventive measures, reducing isolation guidelines is problematic.

“I am disappointed and frustrated by the CDC’s decision to reduce isolation times and continue to put disabled and high-risk people in serious danger with these new guidelines,” Town said. “In February, approximately 20,000 people were hospitalized with COVID each week. “These deaths and hospitalizations are severely felt by disabled people and other high-risk people.”

AAPD and Autistic Self Advocacy Network say the changes are just the latest example of the CDC failing to consider the impact of its COVID-19 policies on people with disabilities.

The CDC acknowledged in its updated guidance that people with certain disabilities are at higher risk for complications from respiratory viruses, citing data showing that although people with intellectual disabilities were just as likely as others to contract COVID-19, they were three and three years. half the risk of death during the first two waves of the pandemic.

The updated recommendations indicate that people with disabilities should employ several prevention strategies, such as getting vaccinated, wearing masks, taking measures for cleaner air, and getting tested and treated if infected. Additionally, those who rely on direct support providers should open windows, use air filters, and employ other strategies to obtain cleaner air, ask if support staff have symptoms, require frequent hand washing, and wear a face covering. fits well, the CDC said. .

AAPD’s Town notes that even with the revised guidelines, people with disabilities can rely on existing civil rights protections if they are concerned about their health risks.

“That means if you are at high risk, you can request reasonable accommodations at work, at school and in your community to help keep you safer,” Town said. “This may mean working from home and schedule changes and/or additional protective equipment and improvements to air quality at work if working from home is not possible. “Organizations can expand their paid time off policies to help their workers stay home while they are sick and recovering.”

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