04/15/20 PRESS ALERT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More information:
Dawn Russell: (303) 884-1471
Anita Cameron: (585) 259-8746
Marilee Adamski-Smith: (715) 204-4152
Who: National ADAPT
What: COVID19 crisis shines deadly light on nursing homes: ADAPT calls on Congress and other Governmental Officials to Act
Where: Across the Country
As COVID19 crisis shines deadly light on nursing facilities, ADAPT calls on Congress and other Governmental Officials to Act!
The COVID19 crisis has devastated the world. In doing so it has highlighted the horror of the way we warehouse elderly and disabled Americans in nursing facilities. No place has served as more of an incubator for this pandemic in the United States than these institutions. Death rates in nursing facilities have been far higher than the average in non-congregate settings. The New York Times estimates that there have been 25,000 deaths from the virus and the 4,000 of those have been in nursing facilities. That is at least 16% of COVID-19 deaths, whereas the nursing facility population in this country is only 0.4% of the total population. We need to recognize that these are places where people are in immediate danger and act to save them before it is too late.
“If these nursing facilities were on fire, we would get people out of them immediately,” said Anita Cameron, an ADAPT organizer from Rochester, NY. “This is a fire and governmental officials are standing around watching people burn to death!”
ADAPT and other disability-led organizations have decried the inhumanity of institutional placement for more than three decades. The current crisis has exposed that problem. Worse, we have politicians and policy makers openly debating who is worthy of treatment, who is worthy of living. Structural racism and health care disparities have amplified the impact that the pandemic has had on communities of color, especially the Disabled Black, Latinx, Indigenous and Immigrant communities. It is time for Congress to Act to ensure the safety of all Americans and prevent the needless deaths of people forced to live in congregate settings.
“As an immigrant to this country one who believed I was moving to a country that valued all equally. I am horrified to see the conditions and treatment we are tacitly allowing people to die unaided,” said Joseph Adamski-Smith, an ADAPT organizer from Wisconsin. “Congress and our states must move immediately to get people out of these death traps!”
ADAPTers across the country are also reaching out to state and local officials to take action, in Colorado, New York, Wisconsin, Delaware, and Illinois. “This is an all hands on deck emergency and disabled people are dying across the country,” said Dawn Russell, and ADAPT organizer from Atlantis ADAPT in Denver, Colorado.
We need action from our politicians at every level. State and local officials need to do their part in immediately moving people out of nursing facilities, but that is not enough; the Federal government needs to act too. FEMA needs to start helping get people out of congregate settings immediately and Congress must include Disability Integration Act (S.117/HR.555) language in the next COVID-19 response bill.
Russell continued, “We’ve always been dying in these facilities. People just didn’t recognize it. When eleven children died in a New Jersey nursing facility no one noticed. Now that we all know the dangers associated with institutionalization because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t go back and just look the other way. It’s time to save lives and free our people!”
ADAPT has for several years now told Congress of the desperate need to pass the Disability Integration Act to ensure disabled and older Americans’ right to live in the community. The bill has a majority of the House of Representatives signed on as cosponsors and only needs 13 more cosponsors in the Senate to have a majority there.
“The passage of the bill is that much more urgent because of this crisis,” said Ms. Cameron. “With the support we have on the Hill, including Senate Minority Leader Schumer as the bill’s sponsor, Congress can and must do this.”
For decades ADAPT has worked to secure for disabled Americans the same rights and liberties enjoyed by their nondisabled neighbors. ADAPT’s history, the issues we are fighting for and our activities can be followed on our web site at www.adapt.org, our National ADAPT Facebook page and on Twitter.