The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its list of conditions that put people at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. (iStock)
Nearly two years into the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recognizes for the first time that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have an increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease.
The agency quietly updated its list of medical conditions is known to be associated with an increased chance of serious illness from the virus in mid-February.
“People with some types of disabilities may be more likely to become very ill from COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions, living in community settings, or systemic health and social inequalities,” the latest guide said.
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The list includes people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, birth defects, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, spinal cord injuries and “people with any disability that make it difficult to perform certain activities or interact with the world around them, including people, who need help with self-care or daily activities. ”
People with conditions on the CDC list are “more likely to get very sick with COVID-19,” according to the guide. It may mean being hospitalized, needing intensive care, needing a ventilator or dying.
The CDC said people with such conditions should stay abreast of COVID-19 vaccines and use preventative measures such as wearing masks and avoiding overcrowded spaces.
Before the change last month, downs Syndrome was the only disability mentioned, but there was a note suggesting that people with other disorders could also be affected.
“People with disabilities are more likely than those without disabilities to have chronic health conditions, live in community settings, and face multiple barriers to health care,” the memo read. “Studies have shown that some people with certain disabilities are more likely to get COVID-19 and have poorer outcomes.”
The CDC has been aware that research on COVID-19 is constantly evolving and the Agency’s list of conditions associated with a higher risk of serious illness may continue to grow.
Research go back until mid-2020 have found that people with developmental disabilities are at higher risk than others for COVID-19.
Scott D. Landes, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University who has studied the experiences of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, said he is pleased to see these conditions added to the CDC list, but he wonders wonder why it took so long.
“All the evidence I have seen to date, including our own work, in the United States and other countries reports increased risk of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death for this population,” Landes said. “Although I imagine the CDC has a process it used to decide when to add terms to this list, I can not help but wonder how things could have been different if these handicaps had been indicated in the list of risk factors at an earlier stage. “
The updates to the CDC list come as the agency relaxes the masking guidelines, a move that is of concern to people with disabilities.
Under new guidance released last week, CDC officials are using various measurements to assess the societal risk from COVID-19. With the new criteria in place, only about 30% of Americans live in areas considered high-risk, where universal indoor masking is still recommended.
“This amendment to the masking guidelines specifically sets out a very specific set of rules for people with disabilities, acknowledging that they are still at risk, but does not ask the public to continue to take protective measures to help reduce their risks,” he said. Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. “As this sudden policy change overrides the needs of people with disabilities starting to be implemented, we ask everyone to think of others in their neighborhoods, in their communities, at the moment when they question whether it is necessary to take a mask. on.”