PENNSYLVANIA, USA — The Department of Human Services hosted a news conference Tuesday to reassure people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities they have not been forgotten during this pandemic.
As many people know, some people living with disabilities can be more susceptible to contracting illnesses. COVID-19 is no exception, which is why the Office of Developmental Programs and the Office of Long Term Living have taken several steps to protect them.
The Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa Miller called the COVID-19 pandemic a new battlefield for people with disabilities.
"This is a vulnerable population of people who already face unique challenges in a world where accommodations for the disability are rarely won without a fight," Miller said.
In a virtual press conference Tuesday, Deputy Secretaries for the Office of Developmental Programs and the Office of Long Term Living listed a number of things they are doing to protect people with disabilities, including: preventing the spread of the virus by social distancing and good hygiene, utilizing trained support professional where they are needed most, maintaining long-term stability of services, and constant communication to families and providers.
"We also serve a population that is dependent on care so the concepts of social or physical distancing can't be applied in the same way for someone who does require another person to assist them," Kristin Ahrens, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Developmental Programs, said.
But make no mistake, Secretary Miller said the Department is laser-focused on implementing these strategies to keep the positive COVID-19 cases as low as possible, and to ensure their rights to life, health, and safety are protected.
"We will not tolerate discrimination in allocation of life-saving resources based on any factor," Millers said.
The Department of Human Services said it is working with the Department of Health, as well as the Wolf Administration to make the transition as smooth as possible.