Incapacity advocates condemn GOP senator protesting deaf Detroiters’ eligibility for COVID vaccines ⋆ Michigan Advance

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Updated at 1:48 p.m., 03/02/21, with comment from Lt. Gov. Gilchrist

During a particularly difficult Thursday session in the Michigan Senate that eventually ended with the passage of a controversial $ 727 million additional funding bill, including conservative amendments, GOP lawmakers in their speeches criticized the state’s vaccine distribution, which Priorities for vulnerable populations based on factors such as race and income.

State Senator Tom Barrett (R-Potterville) also attacked Detroit initiative last week to open the city’s vaccination line to adults with disabilities, including people with visual or hearing impairments, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and others.

Sens. Tom Barrett and Peter MacGregor presenting the budget for the 2020 financial year in 2019 | Casey Hull

research Johns Hopkins University has shown that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in all age groups are three times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the rest of the population.

“Throughout the committee’s testimony, we were promised that people would not be eligible to surpass their priority group status to gain access to the vaccine until those who were more susceptible were offered and given the option to have it,” said Barrett on Thursday.

“But yesterday… the city of Detroit announced that people with a hearing loss, regardless of age or comorbidity status, can now get the vaccine based on the volume of doses the city has received. In Brighton, just a few dozen miles away, those of an older population were still not given access to the vaccine because their county was at the bottom of the social vulnerability index, ”Barrett continued.

The additional spending bill passed Thursday included a controversial GOP requirement that Michigan no longer need to use the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to provide information about where vaccines are being distributed. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created the index decades ago to provide more equitable assistance to vulnerable populations in emergencies.

John Roach, spokesman for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, defended the city’s new policies in an email to the Ahead Friday.

The Senate passes a small COVID relief plan. He calls it “persistent cruelty fueled by elitism and racism”.

“The City of Detroit is very proud to be a national leader in vaccinating people with disabilities. We are aware of the difficulties some surrounding suburbs have had in obtaining vaccines. So the mayor helped by making vaccines immediately available to anyone aged 55 and over when accompanying a Detroit friend aged 60 and over to get the shot, “Roach said.

“Instead of spending time refusing vaccination shots for disabled people, 700 people in the past two days received their vaccine by being a good neighbor of a Detroit senior citizen,” he added.

In a statement, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist said attempts by Republican lawmakers to get rid of the SVI won’t stop the state from distributing vaccines fairly.

“The state of Michigan is following CDC guidelines on the distribution of vaccines used in both red and blue states to ensure that the most vulnerable residents, including the elderly, have priority over vaccines,” Gilchrist said. “It’s strange that Senate Republicans think they know better than the best epidemiologists and infectious disease experts in our country when it comes to the science and data to protect our most vulnerable residents.”

Gilchrist added that GOP-led state legislation should pass the MI COVID Recovery Plan to further expand the state’s immunization program. *

People with visual impairments may also face an increased challenge when receiving COVID-19 vaccines, as not all local and state websites that offer vaccination appointments are accessible to visually impaired residents.

One recently detection The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that of 94 COVID-19 vaccine websites from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, almost all had accessibility issues.

Alfredo Hernandez, Equity Officer for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR), said in an email Monday that since the beginning of COVID-19, Michigan has been pursuing the best of scientific and medical expertise to help mitigate the virus in marginalized communities.

Column: People with disabilities cannot be left behind during the pandemic

That includes, said Hernandez, “recognizing the complex intersectionality of vulnerability in our communities.”

“The guidelines reflect that seniors are generally more vulnerable than younger people, that frontline workers and key workers are at higher risk than those of us with limited exposure. that color communities are affected differently by the virus and that disability can be a factor that determines a person’s overall vulnerability, “said Hernandez.

“We encourage state and local health departments to reaffirm the guiding principles of the EU [Michigan Department of Health and Human Services] state vaccination strategy by ensuring anti-discrimination and fair practices for vaccination planning and distribution, “he continued, adding that the state system of county-to-county vaccine distribution will” never be perfectly linear “but should be aimed at, by most vaccinate least vulnerable populations.

A spokesman for the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition referred a request for comment to Detroit Disability Power (DDP).

New: White Michigandans were about twice as likely to have received the COVID vaccine as African Americans

DDP Policy Director Jeffrey Nolish said the Ahead On Friday, Barrett’s criticism of the SVI and Detroit’s attempt to prioritize vaccination of residents with disabilities is “unfortunate”.

“Sen. Barrett believes that people with hearing impairments deserve less protection than people 65 and older, when both are at higher risk due to difficulties with social distancing (reading lips through masks is a challenge) for information or physical assistance, obstacles for access to public health information (there is a shortage of certified American sign language interpreters) and care, as well as deterioration in underlying health conditions, ”said Nolish.

“Ableism or discrimination against people with disabilities in favor of or non-disabled people is anchored in our society. … Every day people with disabilities struggle to be seen, heard and prioritized. Decision makers should ask themselves if they are making disabling decisions. “

Barrett did not return a request for further comment.

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