People With Down Syndrome, Autism Could Be Denied Lifesaving Care Under Coronavirus Plans

People with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities including cerebral palsy and autism could be denied life-saving care under disaster preparedness plans to address coronavirus outbreaks, a report claims.

As ProPublica reported, advocates for people with intellectual disabilities are worried that these vulnerable populations will be denied care and have asked the federal government to clarify a provision in plans put together in the states of Washington and Alabama. The report noted that some states have made it clear in disaster plans that people with these disabilities could be denied access to lifesaving care, including ventilators, in the event of a shortage of medical equipment and resources.

The ProPublica report noted that Alabama's disaster management plan says that "persons with severe mental retardation, advanced dementia or severe traumatic brain injury may be poor candidates for ventilator support," and another part claims that people with "severe or profound mental retardation, moderate to severe dementia, or catastrophic neurological complications such as persistent vegetative state are unlikely candidates for ventilator support."

Federal officials have said that they oppose rationing care for people with disabilities, the report also noted.

"Persons with disabilities should not be put at the end of the line for health services based on stereotypes or discrimination, especially during emergencies. Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human being from ruthless utilitarianism," said Roger Severino, the director of the civil rights office in the office of Health and Human Services.

Other hard-hit countries have already been forced to make difficult decisions about who can receive care at times when the medical system becomes overwhelmed. As The Inquisitr reported, some regions in Italy put forward proposals that people over the age of 80 would not receive life-saving care in the event that there were not enough resources to help everyone.

According to the Telegraph, a draft proposal would deny intensive care to people over the age of 80 who are in poor health, citing a document prepared by a crisis management unit in the city of Turin.

Medical experts across the world have called for careful quarantine of people infected with COVID-19 combined with social distancing efforts for others in order to slow the spread of the virus. Without such efforts, a large number of people would become infected at the same time, leaving hospitals unable to care for them. Spreading out the transmission rate would mean weeks or months of distancing efforts, medical experts have warned.