Donald Trump’s Covid-19 Response has Failed the Disability Community

DNC Disability Council Chair Tony Coelho released the following statement:

President Trump continues to fail in leading the nation’s response to coronavirus, and the disability community has paid the price for his irresponsibility and neglect. President Trump and his administration have ignored warnings, downplayed the impact of the crisis, and refused to take action to protect American citizens from this pandemic.

  • After repeatedly proposing budget cuts to SNAP, Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance, and other programs that allow people with disabilities to live in their communities, the Trump Administration’s ableism has proven fatal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to Trump’s deregulation of nursing homes, over 40% of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are linked to nursing homes and assisted living facilities. 
  • Early during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Trump Administration’s uneven distribution of supplies, ventilators, and personal protective equipment put all Americans at risk. Only after disability advocates filed complaints in several states to fight ableist health care rationing policies, the Trump Administration announced efforts to address discriminatory provisions in many states’ rationing plans.
  • Trump continues to ignore his own public health experts, refusing to encourage the use of face masks in public and refusing to follow other measures that would reduce infection rates and protect people with disabilities and other high-risk groups. He claims that the virus is “going away” and blames spikes on increased testing, even while the country experiences record high numbers of new cases and the death toll climbs. 
  • Under the Trump Administration, Republicans tried to pass legislation that would have weakened the Americans with Disabilities Act. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Republicans have tried to hijack the ADA, claiming it allowed people with undisclosed disabilities to enter public accommodations without masks. This is not only false, it is dangerous. 
  • Under the Trump Administration, Secretary of Education Betsy Devos has actively delayed implementation of regulations related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which were intended to promote equity by targeting widespread disparities in the treatment of students of color with disabilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump Administration’s delays in issuing educational guidance caused students with disabilities and other vulnerable populations to miss critical instruction. Instead of addressing continuing equity concerns, Secretary Devos is directing school districts to share millions of dollars of COVID19 aid with wealthy private schools
  • The COVID-19 virus has made the need for an easily accessible mail-in ballot system obvious. Many Americans are still under orders to remain at home if possible and health experts recommend against crowding. Instead of expanding options for voting, Trump tweets conspiracy theories to suppress the vote. Democrats support the expansion of the option of mail-in voting for all persons, including persons with disabilities. They also support reforms that will make it easier to register, to obtain absentee ballots, and to vote in-person or by mail. 

Democrats are committed to realizing the full promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We will protect and expand the right of Americans with disabilities to get the accommodations and support they need to live in integrated community settings. We will end institutional bias, expand access to home and community-based services, and protect the right of Americans with disabilities to live, work, vote and fully participate integrated in their own communities.