Four years into the COVID-19 pandemic, few Americans are especially concerned about catching the disease. A recent poll from Pew found that only 20 percent of Americans consider the virus to be a major health threat. Only 10 percent are concerned about becoming very ill or hospitalized. Less than a third have received an updated COVID-19 vaccine. Pew did not ask how many people still wear masks.

But for many with disabilities and chronic illnesses, it is impossible to move on.

Although vaccination and medications like Paxlovid have helped reduce the number of deaths, disabled people and older adults are still at higher risk. Life expectancy in the United States has dropped, and COVID-19 is the third leading cause of death. Long COVID, the complex and poorly understood constellation of symptoms that linger long after an active infection ends, impacts an estimated 6.8 percent of Americans, or 17.6 million people.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 4 adults have some kind of disability.  It is difficult to know what people with disabilities think about declining interest in COVID precautions as a whole, as they are not generally polled as a demographic. A 19th/SurveyMonkey poll from last year found that a third of disabled respondents also had caregiving responsibilities of their own.

The 19th spoke with four disabled Americans, most of whom have their own caregiving responsibilities for disabled family members, about their experiences four years into the pandemic.  They expressed anger, frustration and a profound sense of isolation.

Read the full article about COVID still affects disabled and older adults by Sara Luterman at The19th.