COVID-19: A Global Disability Simulation

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Watching the emergence of COVID-19 and the subsequent effects it’s had in recent weeks has me in what feels like a constant loop of anxiety and frustration. I’m concerned for those in my communities who are the most at risk. I am frustrated by the general lack of care I see coming from other members of my communities. I fear for loved ones who could contract the virus and be devastated by it, and for those unable to adequately prepare for a quarantine should they need it. I am angry at government and societal attitudes being once again that loss of life in the communities likely to be hardest hit by this pandemic is lamentable but unavoidable.

Here again, I find myself among the ranks of the Expected Loss. It has not escaped me however that those outside of vulnerable communities are also being affected. Otherwise healthy people are contracting this disease and are being met with harsh realities disabled and chronically ill people have been living with for years. It’s like watching a disability simulation on a global scale.

People are encountering the broken healthcare system for the first time, something the disability community has been talking about for years. People are feeling the fear of not being able to access the items necessary to keep themselves safe and healthy, another reality of the disabled existence. Social distancing and quarantines are becoming the norm, as they already were for house and bed bound people. Inability to travel, work and study, once a problem mainly for disabled people, are now everyone’s reality. I almost expect a broadcast of a PSA in the vein of a post apocalyptic video game:

So You Have The Coronavirus!

Testing For COVID-19 (Coronavirus):

There are no widely available tests, sorry!

Treating COVID-19:

Until symptoms require hospitalization social distancing and quarantine are the best course of action, chum!

Working and Studying While Isolating:

Hopefully your employer or school is willing to work with your to set up telecommuting. If not, you’re out of luck pal!

What To Do If You Find Yourself Unable To Work:

That’s a tough one! Dip into your savings? No savings? Oh, government assi- no there’s no point never mind. Hmmm…

Well that concludes this broadcast, brought to you by Fault Tech. That’s right Fault Tech! When you’re facing a pandemic remember, it’s not the government’s fault, technically.

Before someone accuses me of making light of a global pandemic and joking about issues currently being faced by real people, let me make something perfectly clear. That is precisely my point. The issues currently being faced by society at large are very real. Lives and livelihoods are at stake. But this has been the day to day of disabled people since long before this outbreak.

Disabled and chronically ill people have, for years, tried to bring awareness to the flaws in our healthcare system. We have fought for our individual and communal rights and accommodations. We were in this fight long before many of you knew it existed. Some of us have been in it our entire lives. To you who are just joining us, I say welcome.

COVID-19 has shown us many things in recent weeks, many truths about our society and our way of life. Some of these truths are ugly and hard to face, face them anyway. Like our dependence on health as the gold standard of worth, own up collectively to these long held beliefs that have caused decades of harm. But, be cognizant of the growth now possible even in the face of something that seems this untenable.

And I firmly believe growth is possible. We’ve already seen it. Countless companies and employers have easily implemented remote, work from home situations for their employees. Entire school districts, whole universities have moved to online lectures. That means it’s possible for everyone, that it’s been possible.

But it’s only possible if we remember community care is vital. We cannot maintain the status quo of everyone for themselves and survival of the fittest. Because the fact of the matter is, everyone joins the other group at some point. By ensuring that the more vulnerable communities are taken care of now, we ensure our longevity as a whole. But even if that weren’t the case, caring for others not above but along side yourself should always be the goal.

So, my challenge to you as we navigate through this community crisis is this: care for each other. Reach out, check on the people in your communities who are vulnerable, who may be in need, then meet that need. Lift others up and allow yourself to be lifted by others. We are our best support in times like this, be there for one another. And when we are past this, continue to be there for one another.

Fight for the accommodations we’ve seen become the norm recently so they continue to be the norm, especially for disabled people. Speak up against the isolation, discrimination and abuse suffered by disabled and other marginalized communities. Work to undue the widespread government practices that consistently subjugate and deny rights to those most vulnerable. Do this and maybe, just maybe, facing a post apocalyptic future will be easier for everyone. When was the last time a disability simulation could say it did that?

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