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COVID-19 and the Disabled

Although anyone can contract COVID-19 (coronavirus), some individuals are particularly more likely to become severely ill. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people at increased risk for severe illness include older adults and people with underlying medical conditions.

Disability is not necessarily related to being at a higher risk for getting COVID 19 or having severe illness per the CDC. In fact, most people with disabilities are not inherently at a high risk. However, some people with disabilities might be at a high risk of infection or severe illness because of underlying medical conditions.

With respect to individuals with underlying medical conditions, the following medical conditions are specifically identified by the CDC as presenting an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19: chronic kidney disease, COPD, obesity, serious heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies, sickle cell disease, type 2 diabetes, and individuals who are in an immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant.

In addition to the above noted conditions, the CDC also notes other conditions that “might be at an increased risk”. These conditions include asthma, cerebrovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, hypertension or high blood pressure, liver disease, neurologic conditions such as dementia, pregnancy, thalassemia, type I diabetes, and individuals in an immunocompromised state from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiency, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or other immune weakening medicines.

If you are at an increased risk of severe illness due to COVID-19, it is important that you take extra steps to keep yourself safe. This includes washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place. You should avoid close contact with others and, if possible, maintain a 6 foot distance between others when in public. If there are individuals who are sick in your home, if possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members. You should clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, particularly if you reside with others. Finally, it is important that you monitor your health and follow CDC guidelines if symptoms develop.

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