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More than 100 disability advocacy groups have told CDC Director Rochelle Walensky that the agency’s new face mask guidance threatens the health of the disabled, people of color, and chronically ill, immunocompromised, and older Americans.
Specifically, the groups complained that the new CDC guidance says that most people don’t need to wear face masks indoors, except in communities with a high threat of COVID.
“We urge the CDC to revise the new guidance to address the needs of high-risk people and recommend that everyone wear N-95s or the highest quality masks available in indoor public settings including schools,” said in a letter posted on the website of Little Lobbyists, a lobbying group for children with complex medical needs and disabilities.
“The new guidance does not address the needs of disabled people and older adults–as well as children with and without disabilities under five who are still not eligible for vaccines,” the letter said. “This new guidance will not work for these communities and places us, and our friends and families in danger.”
The CDC is now measuring a community’s COVID threat by focusing on pandemic-related hospital strain rather than case numbers alone. A CDC map released Thursday showed about 90% of counties had low to medium “community levels,” meaning people who live there didn’t need to wear masks unless they have COVID symptoms, have been exposed to COVID, or tested positive.
It’s not known if Walensky has replied to the letter.
The advocates noted the pandemic has disproportionately affected the disabled, along with older Americans and people of color. The CDC has previously relaxed mask guidance and then reinstated it when COVID cases surged because of a new strain, the letter said.
“We support universal indoor masking with the most protective masks as a necessary protection to prevent and reduce spread and ensure that people with disabilities and high-risk health conditions can be fully included in their communities, attend school and access health facilities, as is their civil right,” the letter said.
Little Lobbyists. “Letter from 100+ Disability Organizations Urging CDC to Revise Mask Guidance and Protect High Risk Individuals”
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