Health Insurance Coverage
Because of the impact of this emergency on health insurance, it is important to review materials that relate to coverage for assistive technology devices and services.
In addition to information coming from international sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the federal government, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you should check with your state regarding issues like authorization for, delivery of, and funding for tele-rehabilitation services.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) website has helpful information for AT programs to understand the waivers and flexibilities available to public programs for the COVID-19 emergency.
Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education’s Covid-19 Resources page includes guidance and policies related to elementary and secondary education, special education, postsecondary education, and other aspects of lifelong learning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also continues to provide updated guidance for school settings.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
OCR has issued guidance reviewing legal standards and best practices for improving access to COVID-19 vaccination programs and ensuring nondiscrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin. Whether information is distributed via flyers, online information portals, or in person at vaccine distribution sites, there is a legal obligation that COVID-19 vaccination programs be accessible and free of discriminatory barriers that limit a communities’ ability to receive vaccinations and boosters. The new guidance ensures that entities covered by civil rights laws understand their obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, laws requiring that federally assisted health care providers and systems ensure fair, equitable access to vaccines. Recipients of Federal financial assistance includes state and local agencies, hospitals, and health care providers administering vaccines and boosters.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took a range of administrative steps to expedite the adoption and awareness of telehealth during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Some of these telehealth flexibilities have been made permanent while others are temporary. The Department has created a hub of current telehealth information for consumers, providers and others.
Administration for Community Living (ACL)
The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has a resource page that covers the unwinding of policy changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes information on Medicaid continuous eligibility, changes for state units on aging, civil rights protections and other important information.
Another resource is the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC), which is funded through ACL. NARIC collects publications of grantee community publications of the National Institute of Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) on their COVID-19 Special Collections web page.
Sanitization/Cleaning of Phones and Electronics
While the CDC recommends you wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face, it is harder to clean the other things that touch your face – especially your phone. When reviewing advice and products, note whether there is a claim to kill bacteria or viruses. Even if it is “only” going to take care of bacteria, it doesn’t hurt to clean your electronics!
Apple advice on how to clean your apple products.
PC magazine addresses “spring cleaning” for a variety of electronics, including headphones, phones, and tablets and laptops.
How to Disinfect Your Phone and Electronics From Viruses and Germs
Ultraviolet Radiation (UV)
The application of UV radiation in the health-care environment (i.e., operating rooms, isolation rooms, and biologic safety cabinets) is limited to destruction of airborne organisms or inactivation of microorganisms on surfaces. The effect of UV radiation on postoperative wound infections was investigated in a double-blind, randomized study in five university medical centers and the investigators reported the overall wound infection rate was unaffected by UV radiation, although postoperative infection in the “refined clean” surgical procedures decreased significantly (3.8%–2.9%). No data support the use of UV lamps in isolation rooms.
New CDC Study Confirms Effectiveness of UV-C Disinfection to Combat Harmful Pathogens
What are ultraviolet (UV) light sanitizers?
UV light is nature’s disinfectant, but can it kill coronavirus?
The challenges associated with the pandemic were stressful, overwhelming, and caused strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, were necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they also could make us feel isolated and lonely and sometimes increased stress and anxiety. With the end of the national emergency, dealing with these challenges are no less important.
The CDC offers healthy ways to cope with stress. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.
The AT3 Center offers helpful information in the “AT News and Tips” blog, AT for Managing Anxiety. Follow and explore the AT3 Blog for a wide variety of interesting AT information.
National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) has a variety of resources related to key areas of concern for people with disabilities in this national crisis. The NDRN website has links to topical briefs including issues related to transportation, housing, rationing of health care, incarceration, and special education. There’s also an accessible video guide (with captions available in English, Spanish, and simplified Chinese) targeted at people in group homes, nursing homes, and other residential facilities.
Material for Families
AT Act programs may be the only entity available to assist consumers with information particular to assistive technology devices and services. This may especially be true for families who rely on the schools for AT services for their children. PrAACtical AAC has a comprehensive compilation of materials to explain the virus (e.g., social stories); visual supports for handwashing; visual schedules (especially good to have if parents are suddenly home schooling!) and communication (sample boards; symbols; vocabulary).
PrAACtical Resources: Dealing with the Covid-19 Pandemic