Advocating for Nebraskans with disabilities during COVID-19
Read Disability Rights Nebraska's full briefing on COVID-19 for information on the steps that we are taking to protect the disability community during this pandemic.
Disability Rights Nebraska commends Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services CEO Dannette Smith and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone for issuing guidance to all healthcare providers affirming anti-discrimination laws are in force during COVID-19.
In a letter to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services on April 27th, Staff Attorney Amy Miller addressed COVID-19 issues affecting the disability community. Issues included medical rationing, dissemination of information, COVID-19 needs in facilities, funding & staffing concerns, and technology barriers.
We recently signed on to a letter to Congress, prepared by the American Council of the Blind, to express our concern with the CARES Act and its failure to reinforce to states that voters with disabilities must have equal access to federal elections. The letter encourages Congress to protect the rights of voters with disabilities by requiring states to provide an accessible, secure online voting option.
Schools across the country are closed due to COVID-19, but they've been working on inventive approaches to bring the classroom to their quarantined students. A provision in the recent stimulus bill gives the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, 30 days to waive parts of the special education law, allowing schools to skip providing that same innovation for students with disabilities. We signed onto a letter with over 300 other national, state, and local organizations telling members of Congress that no additional waivers are necessary under IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Disability Rights Nebraska and 15 stakeholder organizations issued a call today for Governor Pete Ricketts to protect the rights of Nebraskans with disabilities during the COVID-19 emergency and forbid discriminatory medical rationing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Disability Rights Nebraska realizes that some of our clients are the most at risk. We recognize that people with disabilities, especially those living in congregate settings, are more vulnerable to contagion as well as at higher risk of harm due to staffing problems and mandatory isolation. Our public briefing outlines the actions Disability Rights Nebraska is taking to address issues that the disability community may encounter during this pandemic.
An influx of COVID-19 patients is testing our health care system and its ability to respond to the needs of the public, particularly the needs of people with disabilities. Now as much as ever, it is essential that our state ensures life-saving care is not illegally withheld from citizens with disabilities. On March 27, 2020, Disability Rights Nebraska expressed our concerns of care rationing and its impact on Nebraskans with disabilities in a letter to Governor Ricketts and other state officials.
For the safety of our staff, their families and the community we serve, we are closing our Lincoln and Scottsbluff offices from Monday, March 23, 2020 through Monday, April 6, 2020. Staff will work remotely to continue to serve the disability community during this COVID-19 crisis.
Our CEO, Dr. Eric Evans called upon the state to make sure all COVID-19 response plans took into consideration the needs of Nebraskans with disabilities. Further, Eric's letter to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services itemizes specific concerns for how the state will protect those living in group homes, jails, prisons, and other facilities.
Disability Rights Nebraska is committed to taking any reasonable and necessary steps to ensure a safe and healthy office environment, not only for our employees but also for our clients and visitors during the COVID-19 crisis.