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Advocates: Don't Forget About Iowans With Disabilities During Pandemic

Advocates for those with disabilities say while there's been no reported incidents in Iowa, they're monitoring to see if their clients are denied health care because of the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
Advocates for those with disabilities say while there's been no reported incidents in Iowa, they're monitoring to see if their clients are denied health care because of the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
March 27, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa - As the global pandemic unfolds, advocates for those with disabilities hope these individuals don't become ignored. An Iowa group says there are a number of ways that could happen.

The new coronavirus has brought us many phrases such as "social distancing" to encourage people to take preventive measures. Brooke Lovelace, executive director of the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, says people definitely should adhere to those guidelines.

But she says they should also be mindful of a friend or neighbor whose disability might limit them in being able to connect with others.

"People with disabilities are a little bit more vulnerable for social isolation or physical isolation because their networks could be a little bit smaller," says Lovelace.

Lovelace encourages Iowans to check on someone they might know living with a disability, especially if that person's caregiver can't help them right now. And concerns have surfaced in other states about health-care providers potentially discriminating against people with disabilities because of the crisis.

Lovelace says there's been no evidence of that in Iowa, but she says they are monitoring. Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack - D-Iowa City - is one of several lawmakers to sign a letter to federal officials, urging them to remind states to offer protections for these individuals.

Lovelace says with state and federal lawmakers scaling back most activities during the pandemic, they might be more accessible. She says that creates a window for people with disabilities to become advocates themselves.

"There's a lot of legislative packages that are out there now that are addressing the COVID-19 virus," says Lovelace. "And they need to hear from the disability world that those packages also need to continue to address the needs of people with disabilities."

The relief bill making its way through Congress this week does set aside funding for people with disabilities, but some lawmakers say the federal government needs to be more responsive.

Disclosure: Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council contributes to our fund for reporting on Disabilities, Health Issues, Mental Health. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service - IA