Nursing Home Residents Face Covid-19

May 8, 2020 2:30-3 pm PDT on KPFA

COVID-19 is everywhere these days and no place has been hit harder than nursing homes. Estimates are that up to one-third of all COVID deaths have been in nursing homes.

But nobody knows for sure, because the federal government and many states aren’t collecting this statistic.  And, about one-quarter of people in those nursing homes are under age 65 and have disabilities.

What is it about nursing homes that makes them so dangerous?  What will happen to those who live inside them as the pandemic progresses?

Host Mark Romoser talks with Mike Dark from the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

With a commentary by Shelley Berman.


Online Town Hall: Crisis in Care in SF Nursing Homes and Other Congregate Facilities

Thursday, May 14th, 11 AM

Please join advocates for elders and people with disabilities, public health advocates, concerned community members, and City officials in an online Town Hall on problems of care in nursing homes and other congregate facilities (group homes, board & care homes, assisted living facilities, homeless shelters, SROs, jails etc).

Click here to sign up!

More information about the issue:

The huge concentrations of COVID cases and deaths in care facilities has been a national disgrace. San Francisco is no exception. Contributing factors include no provision of social distancing, the lack of testing, lack of formal or informal oversight, lack of transparency in reporting cases and deaths to families and the public, and the long-standing low-staffing, low pay, and lack of safe conditions and PPE for care workers.

In California, these problems are made worse by (1) the state’s order that nursing homes accept recovering COVID patients, (2) proposed immunity for nursing homes from criminal or civil penalties for COVID deaths during the pandemic, and (3) proposed state triage guidelines if hospitals become overwhelmed that could discriminate against older people, people with disabilities, poor people, fat people, and people of color.

Nursing facilities are nearly all for-profit, and money must not be a motivating factor in whether or not to provide the best care possible. In addition, local and state government must step in more aggressively to protect people. The low priority placed on the lives of older people and disabled people living in facilities is a sign of ageism and ableism, oppression based on age and disability.

Please attend to learn about these problems, declare that ageism and ableism are unacceptable in our community, and join the dialogue to prevent future tragedies.

Sponsored by the California Care Rationing Coalition: Senior and Disability Action, California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Gray Panthers, California Alliance of Retired Americans, Hand in Hand, and many more

Fat-Assed Prepper Survival Tips for Preparing for a Coronavirus Quarantine

Twenty-three pages of practical information and lists of resources, from how to disinfect a wheelchair to surviving a hospital visit.  Highly recommended.  (With thanks to Sins Invalid for publishing this and other excellent and timely resources on their website)


This program produced & hosted by Mark Romoser.

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Disability History: The Mad Movement with Michael Rembis

Listen (28 min)

Today’s organizing in the Mad Community has a long and turbulent back story.  Historian Michael Rembis joins us again, this time to relay the remarkable work of mad activists in the 20th Century. The 20th century was a time of change and increased visibility for people living with emotional and mental disabilities.  We’ll trace remarkable gains  — and highlight continued inequities.

Michael Rembis

Michael Rembis is the Director of the Center for Disability Studies and an Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University at Buffalo (SUNY).

Produced and hosted by  Eddie Ytuarte.

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Corona Virus & Disability, Episode Two

Graphic in blue and yellow which reads:
#COVID19 and disability. People with disability may have risks of developing more severe cases of coronavirus because COVID-19 exacerbates existing health conditions, particularly related to respiratory functions, diabetes, heart disease and immune system.  World Health Organization #coronavirus

Listen (29 min)
Floating on pandemic waves of news, fear, social distancing and mutual aid, Pushing Limits hosts cull from the news, blogs and articles written by disabled people, webinars & conference calls and personal experience to bring this overview.

Here’s more from the resources they’ve plumbed:

Eight Take Aways from Listening to the National Disability Community

A Spoon on the Seder Plate (with thanks to Sins Invalid)

No One is Disposable — Preparing for a possible hospital stay

omeless People Two to Three Times as Likely to Die

Free Masks in the East Bay– for you and your attendant (see below for details)

Corona Virus Proposals Leave the Disability Community Behind

I Will Not Apologize for My Needs

FREE COVID-19 Support Program for Chronic Disease Patients and Their Families

Round Table Participants:  Mark Romoser, Shelley Berman, Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Adrienne Lauby


Dear friends,

My wife and I have organized some out-of-work theatre costume makers to sew masks. We’d like to provide free masks to people with disabilities and their attendants for COVID. Do you want some some masks?

Good masks are important for people with disabilities since we can’t always practice the standard 6’ physical distance from our workers. In a perfect world we could all get the right protection. Since that’s not possible right now, we need to adapt and make do the best we can. This is a “harm reduction” approach, so be aware these masks don’t meet OSHA standards for virus transmission protection. You still need to wash your hands frequently, follow the other recommended precautions and maintain physical distance when you can.

As you know there is a nationwide grassroots mask making effort to assist healthcare workers and others to do their jobs or live more safely. There are many patterns and materials being developed. Elaine and I have looked closely at the various options, and I think we have arrived at three models of masks that are best suited for the needs of pwd’s at this moment. Finding a balance between breathability and protection is hard. This is all something of a work in progress, and we welcome feedback from mask users.

We expect to get some masks ready for distribution by some next week. (April 13-20) We intend to give each person two masks. So for example, if you have one attendant, then you would need 4 masks. If you have two workers then you would need six masks. We’ll try to include different color pairs so you can identify yours vs your workers masks. Having 2/person allows for one mask to be in service while the other one is either airing out, or being washed. (We think 24-36 hours on a window sill or paper bag is adequate for disinfecting fabric, but more research is needed on this)

The three options are as follows: (see attached photo, which illustrates both ties and ear loops). All masks have a metal interior nose strip for better fit, and different colors on the inside and outside.

  1. 1 layer cotton with 2 layers of NWPP (non-woven poly propylene, the same material which is used in medical grade mask; it has good properties for this application-I.e. good breathability combined with some virus protection). You put this mask on by using cloth ties. (Eg Bias tape or a ribbon like material)
  2. Same as above but with elastic ear loops instead of ties. (Meaning that there is a short section of elastic that goes around your ears. I don’t know the material composition so the ear loops may contain latex)
  3. Two layers of cotton with cloth ties. We think this option may be longer lasting if your preferred method of disinfecting was frequent soap washing and drying. (But we really don’t know for sure if that would degrade the NWPP or elastic loop mask).

The masks will be packaged in paper bags after being washed and dried. (Plastic should be avoided as much as possible for many reasons, including the fact that the virus lives much longer on plastic surfaces)  I think all of these materials should be safe for somebody with moderate MCS, based upon my own personal and very scientific sniff test, but if you are concerned about the NWPP, you might opt for the cotton model.

Please respond (prefer by email, directly to me) if you want some masks by including the following information. 

  • Your name and how many masks you need (based yourself + the number of attendants you have; 2 per person)
  • How many of each style mask you want (ie # 1, 2, or 3 above)
  • Whether you or your attendant can pick up the masks (will be on my porch in South Berkeley) If you can’t arrange this we’re happy to deliver them to you, so include your address and a safe location for drop off.

It’s ok to forward this email. We’ll have a limited supply of these, so if we do run out, or if you prefer, there are other options to obtain masks, such as through Disability Justice Culture Club, (910-722-9552), Mask Avengers, Make Me PPE or Theatre Bay Area. Some of these orgs are hard to access at the moment, (eg. are Facebook-based, only accept organizational applications, or are focused on recruiting the makers). If we run out I’ll help you navigate other sources, but let’s cross that bridge when we get there.

“Stayin’ alive” (a nice 20sec verse for that soapy hand washing),

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Michael Rembis on Disability History

March 27, 2020, 2:30-3 pm, KPFA
As you shelter-in-place, take a break from strengthening your support network to spend 30 minutes contemplating the lives of the courageously ordinary amazing people with disabilities who came before us.

Lessons from past disability community movements help us move more steadily through the days ahead.  You can count on it. In this program, we focus on the Mad Movement, and early U.S. pioneers with emotional and mental disabilities who fought for liberation and rights for their people.

We’re joined by Michael Rembis, co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Disability History and Director of the Center for Disability Studies at the University at Buffalo (SUNY).

Mr. Rembis has worked with Kim Nielsen, a pioneer in contemporary disability history, and Catherine Kudlick of the Paul Longmore Center at S.F. State University.  His studies include the histories of institutionalization, mad people, and eugenics.  He is currently working on a book entitled, A Secret Worth Knowing: Living Mad Lives in the Shadow of the Asylum.

With a commentary by Mary Ann Tidwell Broussard.  And, your host, Eddie Ytuarte.

Technical assistance by Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Mike Kohn.

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Corona Virus and People with Disabilities

Listen, March 13, 2020, 2:20 PDT, KPFA

How is the disability community dealing with being among those constantly told they are the “most vulnerable?”

We put this question to some of our community experts, Andrew Pulrang and Shaun Cartwright.

Here’s some great links for more information about these crucial questions:

Healing Justice “Coronavirus: Wisdom from a Social Justice Lens”,
Creaky Joints  “Coronavirus Facts: What You Need to Know If You Have Chronic Illness or Are Immune-Compromised”, and 5 Things To Know About Coronavirus And People With Disabilities

And here’s a Change Your Frame poem by Dori Midnight called “Wash Your Hands”

Wash your hands

like you are washing the only teacup left that your great grandmother
carried across the ocean, like you are washing the hair of a beloved who is
dying, like you are washing the feet of Grace Lee Boggs, Beyonce, Jesus,
your auntie, Audre Lorde, Mary Oliver- you get the picture.

Like this water is poured from a jug your best friend just carried for
three miles from the spring they had to climb a mountain to reach.
Like water is a precious resource
made from time and miracle

Wash your hands and cough into your elbow, they say.
Rest more, stay home, drink water, have some soup, they say.

To which I would add: burn some plants your ancestors burned when there was
fear in the air,
Boil some aromatic leaves in a pot on your stove until your windows steam up.
Open your windows
Eat a piece of garlic every day. Tie a clove around your neck.

My friends, it is always true, these things.
It has already been time.

It is always true that we should move with care and intention, asking
Do you want to bump elbows instead? with everyone we meet.

It is always true that people are living with one lung, with immune systems
that don’t work so well, or perhaps work too hard, fighting against
themselves. It is already true that people are hoarding the things that the most vulnerable need.
It is already time that we might want to fly on airplanes less and not go
to work when we are sick.

It is already time that we might want to know who in our neighborhood has
cancer, who has a new baby, who is old, with children in another state, who
has extra water, who has a root cellar, who is a nurse, who has a garden
full of elecampane and nettles.

It is already time that temporarily non-disabled people think about people
living with chronic illness and disabled folks, that young people think
about old people.
It is already time to stop using synthetic fragrances to not smell like
bodies, to pretend like we?re all not dying. It is already time to remember
that those scents make so many of us sick.

It is already time to not take it personally when someone doesn’t want to
hug you.
It is already time to slow down and feel how scared we are.

We are already afraid, we are already living in the time of fires.
When fear arises,
and it will,
let it wash over your whole body instead of staying curled up tight in your
If your heart tightens,
and expand.
science says: compassion strengthens the immune system
We already know that, but capitalism gives us amnesia
and tricks us into thinking it’s the thing that protect us
but it’s the way we hold the thing.
The way we do the thing.

Those of us who have forgotten amuletic traditions,
we turn to hoarding hand sanitizer and masks.
we find someone to blame.
we think that will help.
want to blame something?
Blame capitalism. Blame patriarchy. Blame white supremacy.

It is already time to remember to hang garlic on our doors
to dip our handkerchiefs in thyme tea
to rub salt on our feet
to pray the rosary, kiss the mezuzah, cleanse with an egg.
In the middle of the night,
when you wake up with terror in your belly,
it is time to think about stardust and geological time
redwoods and dance parties and mushrooms remediating toxic soil.
it is time
to care for one another
to pray over water
to wash away fear
every time we wash our hands.

– Dori Midnight

This program hosted by Eddie Ytuarte, Adrienne Lauby and Shelley Berman with production help from Mark Romoser. Graphic courtesy of Creaky

Andrew Pulrang, author of the Forbes article listed above, is freelance writer with lifelong disabilities. He has 22 years of experience as a service provider and executive in nonprofit disability services and advocacy.  He also co-coordinates #CripTheVote, a Twitter-based discussion of disability issues and electoral politics.

Shaunn Cartwright has been an advocate for unhoused people for decades. She’s also a low-income housing advocate and member of the disabled community.

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Defending Homeless Moms

Moms 4 Housing

The forced eviction of the moms in west Oakland, complete with tanks!, has been all over the news lately.  28% of Alameda County’s homeless population are children and these mothers are standing strong to do something about it. The disability community played an important role in defending the “Moms 4 Housing.”

Hear all about it from Mom Defender Jay Salazar.

Mark Romoser produces and hosts.

Photo description: Seven people of various ages laugh as the huddle in for a photograph. One of the smallest humans, a child, wears a tee shirt that reads “Close Youth Prisons, Build…”  Thanks for the photo: Moms 4 Housing facebook page

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“Disability, Aging and Power” (PG&E Shut Offs)

Friday, January 3, 2:30-3 pm PST on KPFA radio.

Deborah Kaplan

Are you mad as hell about the PG&E shutoffs?

Did you, or someone you know, endure a nightmare scenario, trying to navigate disability-or-age-related power needs during a PG & E or So Cal Edison shutoff?

Does the thought of more shutoffs fill you with dread? Rage? Both?

Listen in as Debbie Kaplan tells Pushing Limits listeners about a forum to hear where things stand now and listen to front-line activists and experts from our OWN community discuss possible solutions.

Electricity Equals Life (EEL) is producing this forum to make a space where we can brainstorm a way forward, build a network of interdependence, and envision an Electricity Grid That Works for Us AND the planet without reinventing the…transformer.

The forum will occur on Friday, January 17, 3-5 PM at the Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St, Berkeley (above Ashby BART).

ASL & CART (captioning) provided, light refreshments, wheelchair accessible.

PLEASE refrain from wearing scented products

The forum is being financially sponsored by World Institute on Disability (WID), Service Employees International Union Local 2015 (SEIU) and The Utility Reform Network (TURN)

Sheela Gunn-Cushman hosts.

Deborah Kaplan is the founder of Enterprise Accessibility, a consulting company that brings accessibility expertise to businesses. She has been involved in technology accessibility for many years and in a variety of roles. At the World Institute on Disability, where she also served as Executive Director for 8 years, she pioneered projects on technology policy focused on universal design in technology as a goal. Her work history includes her membership on the Steering Committee of the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Planning Committee for the M-Enabling Summit.

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Bay Area Accessible Performances

Looking for accessible performance events? Jess Curtis/Gravity is excited to launch a new website sharing accessible live performances and events in the Bay Area for patrons with diverse sensory modalities!

The site focuses primarily on events that provide sensory access accommodations such as Audio Description for blind and visually impaired audience members, as well as Deaf community events or shows that provide American Sign Language interpretation. We also list ‘Relaxed Performance’ events that make provisions for neuro-diverse audiences.

Please visit the website,, give us some feedback, and check back often for any upcoming events near you.

If you’d like your accessible event to be listed, please visit our website for more details and click on the “submit an event” button.

For more information on making your event more accessible, please email to find out more.

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“Such a Pretty Girl” with Nadina LaSpina (funddrive edition)

Nadina LaSpina ~ arrested in a direct action protest

For this program, we bring back long-time disability activist, Nadina LaSpina, to talk more about her memoir, Such a Pretty Girl: a Story of Struggle, Empowerment, and Disability Pride.

LaSpina has worked with several disability activist groups including ADAPT, Disabled in Action: NYC and The Disability Caucus. She’ll be in the Bay Area in person in December where, among other appearances, she will address the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

LaSpina comes from a poor and working class town in Sicily where she contracted polio and was pitied, told she’d never be “normal” or have a family.  She spent her younger years in a series of hospitals and surgeries — and she met other disabled teens for the first time.  Then she entered academia and the disability movement.  From there, LaSpina’s life became a life of making history, with all the ups and downs that entails.

LaSpina has been a leader in our movement for decades, thinking, speaking, writing and being arrested numerous times in civil disobedience protests.  Her articles, essays, and stories have appeared in publications as varied as AbleNews and Ragged Edge, New Politics, And Then, and Bookwoman.  After teaching Italian for many years at New York University and at Fordham University, LaSpina created and taught courses in Disability Studies at The New School.  Tune in to listen and learn from this vibrant, passionate disability path maker.

This is a special KPFA fund drive program, with an expanded hour-long format. We’ll be offering LaSpina’s book as a thank you gift to those who join KPFA at a $60 or above level.  Call during the program at (510) 848-5732 or toll free at 800-439-5732.  You can also pledge securely on line at

Eddie Ytuarte, Adrienne Lauby, Shelley Berman and Josh Elwood will be in the studio for the hour. Don’t miss it!

Follow Nadina LaSpina on Facebook, Twitter, & YouTube

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#Close The Camps – Protest Coverage

Listen, 29 min.

What do you get when you put a group of people with disabilities, people who are fat, LGBTQIA+, elders and many other sorts on one street corner?

No, not a bad joke!

You get…a PROTEST to #CloseTheCamps because #NoBodyIsDisposable.

Photo by Leslie Mah

Hear highlights from speeches, interviews and other live recordings from this powerful show of solidarity at the August 28 ICE protest.  The protest was designed to bring together fat & disability communities as a united front.  It was part of the Month of Momentum:  30 Days of Action to Close the Camps (ICE SF)

Photo By Regan Barshear

More information about the protest

Check out the photos gathered so far.   Add yours to the collection.

Hundreds of people supported through an online campaign.  Check the #NoBodyIsDisposable hashtag on social media for hundreds of photos.

Read and share scholar activist Caleb Luna’s remarks from the action.

There was a companion action on the same day organized by Fat Rose folks in Indiana! They had 100 folks come out! Check out the photos.

Here’s the short list of actions people can take from home.

One group to connect with locally is the Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps Bay Area, whose campaign is targeting the tech companies who support ICE.

The organizers encourage you to stay in touch with Fat Rose, Disability Justice Culture Club, Hand in Hand and Senior and Disability Action.

Organizational Sponsors:

Access-Centered Movement (
AXIS Dance Company
Big Moves Bay Area (
Community Resources for Independent Living (CRIL) (
Disability Justice Culture Club
Disability Visibility Project (
Diversability Inc. (
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) (
Fat Lib Ink (
Fat Rose (
FLARE (The Fat Legal Advocacy, Research, and Education Project)
Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network (
Health Justice Commons (
The Icarus Project (
Idriss Stelley Foundation (ISF) (
Justice 4 Kayla Moore (
Krip Hop Nation (
Making Waves fat swim (
National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (
PleasureNess Literary Academy/Reclaiming Ugly (
POOR Magazine/PrensaPobre (
Pushing Limits Radio (KPFA) (
Reclamation Press (
Senior and Disability Action (
Sins Invalid (
Urban Jazz Dance Company (
Women’s March Disability Caucus


  Town Hall On Long Term Care

  Expanding Long Term Services and Supports for All

Thursday, September 19
9:45 am – 12 noon
Korat Auditorium
Downtown Library
100 Larkin St, San Francisco

Join us for a town hall about the solving the State’s need for affordable long-term supports and services so that we may all live and age with dignity.   Get your free ticket here.

By 2030 9 million Californians will be over the age of 65. That’s 3 million more than there are today! This unprecedented growth in the senior population is driving a skyrocketing demand for long term services and supports (LTSS), yet we see increasing evidence that paying for these services is bankrupting middle class seniors and their families throughout the state.

The event will include a panel discussion with state legislators, Senator Scott Wiener, Assembly member David Chiu and Assembly member Phil Ting on the challenges that seniors and people with disabilities face when seeking affordable long term care and the caregivers who provide these essential services.

Food, childcare, Spanish interpretation and other accommodations will be provided. Be sure to fill out the RSVP.

This event is hosted by the San Francisco Care Council, including UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, SEIU Local 2015, Caring Across Generations, the California Domestic Workers Coalition, SF Family Caregiver Alliance, Senior and Disability Action, California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, and Hand in Hand: Domestic Employers Network.

Agenda de Cuidado: Apoyo a Largo Plazo En Expansión Para Todos

Únase a nosotros para un ayuntamiento sobre la solución de la necesidad del estado CA de servicios y apoyos asequibles a largo plazo (LTSS) para que todos podamos vivir y envejecer con dignidad.

En 2030, 9 millón Californianos serán mayores de 65 años. Eso es 3 millón más de lo que hay hoy. Este crecimiento sin precedentes en la población de adultos mayores está impulsando una demanda vertiginosa de servicios y apoyos a largo plazo (LTSS). Sin embargo, vemos más y más evidencia de que pagar por estos servicios está llevando a la bancarrota a las personas mayores y a sus familias de clase media en todo el estado.

Únase a nosotros para una discusión con legisladores del estado de CA sobre los desafíos que enfrentan las personas mayores y las personas con discapacidades que buscan cuidado a largo plazo asequible y los asistentes personales que brindan estos servicios esenciales.

Se proporcionará comida, cuidado de niños, interpretación en español y otros alojamientos. Asegúrese de completar el forma para RSVP.

Este evento es organizado por el Consejo de Cuidado de San Francisco, que incluye UDW / AFSCME Local 3930, SEIU Local 2015, Cuidado a Través de Generaciones, la Coalición de Trabajadoras del Hogar, Alianza de Cuidadores Familiares de SF, Acción de Mayor Edad & Discapacidad, La Fundación para Centros de Vivir Independiente de California, y Mano a Mano: El Red de Empleadores Domésticos.

Original air date: 9-16-19

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