By now it’s clear what we all should be doing to protect ourselves and curb the spread of coronavirus. But for many disabled people, even some of the simplest steps are harder to do, like washing hands. Some of us can’t move our hands as freely as others. Some of us can’t reach a sink reliably, or operate a soap dispenser by ourselves.

Also, many disabled people can’t entirely isolate themselves. We need other people to not only be near us, but to touch us and help us with the most intimate everyday tasks. We are limited in how thoroughly we can isolate ourselves for our own protection.

This also means we have to ask others to lessen their own protective isolation in order to continue helping us. That includes family and friends, but also paid caregivers who are put in very difficult positions. They are faced with their own agencies’ directives, heeding the pleas of public health authorities, protecting themselves and their families, and fulfilling their responsibilities to people they care for. It can be a difficult balance in the best of times. At times like these, there are no easy answers.

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