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Not sure about 'Triduum at Home'? Here are some CNA Holy Week suggestions

CNA Staff, Apr 9, 2020 / 03:40 pm (CNA).- For many Catholics, this will be the first time the days of Holy Week are spent at home. If you’re not sure how to make the most of the Paschal Triduum and Easter at home, here’s what some of us at CNA have planned:

 

Courtney Mares, Rome Correspondent

Although we cannot attend Mass, I've found solace this Holy Week in listening to the Masses composed by Mozart and other classical composers. (Here is a link to a playlist of 10 hours of Mozart's Masses on Spotify.) Of course, I will be loudly playing a recording of the "Hallelujah" chorus from Handel's Messiah on Easter morning, as is my custom. I hope my singing Italian neighbors will join in.
 
This year, we also have the opportunity to make virtual pilgrimages around the world via Triduum livestreams. You can tune into Holy Thursday from the Garden of Gethsemane in the Holy Land, Good Friday veneration of Christ's Crown of Thorns from Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, a Holy Saturday livestream of the Shroud of Turin, and Easter Sunday Mass and the Urbi et Orbi blessing with Pope Francis at the Vatican through EWTN online.

 

Mary Farrow, Features Writer

I have been riding out coronatide with my husband and my now-31-week in-utero baby. This is a Holy Week unlike one I could have ever imagined. In a Zoom meeting with young adults from my parish this week, my pastor encouraged us to focus on quality and not quantity of prayer and at-home activities this Triduum, and so we are trying to do that. We will be following along with our parish’s resources. And of course having some Easter treats on Saturday night and Sunday to celebrate our Risen Lord.
 

Matt Hadro, Senior DC Correspondent

The biggest thing during our quasi-quarantine has been structuring our day, and for me, praying the Liturgy of the Hours has been a natural and quite helpful practice to center the day around God and pray with the rest of the church. I'll definitely continue this through the Triduum and beyond.

For the Triduum, this is what we have planned:
 
Holy Thursday
Livestream Mass of Our Lord's Supper
Afterwards make a holy hour at home.
 
Good Friday
Livestream the Good Friday liturgy from our local parish or diocesan cathedral
Pray the Stations of the Cross at home
Try to duck into an empty church that's still open
Limit screen time to watching liturgies or a movie like “The Passion.”
 
Holy Saturday
Cook and clean to prepare our home for Easter
Live stream the Easter Vigil from our parish or diocesan cathedral, and then break the fast like champs.


Christine Rousselle, DC Correspondent

I live 538 miles away from my nearest Catholic relative, so I typically do not go home for Easter even during non-pandemic years.

Here in Virginia, where I live, I had developed a routine over the past few years: Holy Thursday liturgy and seven-church pilgrimage with the Dominican House of Studies in DC, Good Friday at my parish in Arlington followed by a fish sandwich from Popeyes, Easter Vigil somewhere in the greater DC area, and then Mass on Easter Sunday at my parish in Arlington--followed by brunch with my friends who don’t celebrate Easter as they’re usually the only ones still in town. 

This year, I’ll be doing things a bit differently. On Thursday, instead of being with the Dominican friars, I’ll be on a virtual pilgrimage with the Diocese of Arlington. Friday, I plan on watching the pre-recorded Stations of the Cross that my parish released on YouTube--and maybe getting more Popeyes' fish delivered.

I’m not yet sure what the plan is for Saturday and Sunday. I have acquired Easter best-type outfits through my Rent the Runway subscription, so I plan on still dressing up, in order to maintain some sense of normalcy.

I find it hard to pay attention to streamed Masses, so I’m probably not going to stream the Easter Vigil--but I will likely tune in to Mass on Sunday morning. Afterwards, my roommates and I are planning on making pancakes and drinking mimosas. I’ve purchased some Easter candy and basket stuffers to surprise them (shh!), and I’m crocheting bunnies as part of my quaren-crafting.

This will be an Easter unlike any other, but that does not mean that the festivities have to have a cloud over them. Christ still defeated death and rose from the dead, so for that, I am grateful.

 

JD Flynn, Editor-in-chief

We're looking forward to a quiet Triduum.

In my own prayer, I'll read the Passion narrative of John's Gospel, and probably read Genesis 22 and the book of Jonah. 

We tell our kids a little bit about Christ's passion each night. Christmas, I've realized, is so much easier catechetically, because everyone understands birthdays.

But we've been talking about how Jesus was on the cross so that we wouldn't have to be, and how because of that, and because Jesus came off the cross, we can go to Jesus' house forever someday, and it will be great. We're not master catechists, but with three little kids who have no concept of death, let alone resurrection, we're doing our best!

I've realized through all of this that during Holy Week, the liturgies of the Church catechize well before we have an intellectual grasp of what's going on -- and more than intellectual catechesis, they imprint experiences on us. So our goal, more than anything, is to imprint formational experiences on our kids. On Holy Thursday we'll sing the Pange Lingua, which my kids love, and I'll wash everyone's feet. On Good Friday we'll make some stations of the cross, and find some ways of making the day more muted, and on the evening of Holy Saturday we'll have a bonfire in the backyard and talk about "waiting for Jesus." 

And we'll listen to the Exsultet, the Easter proclamation, because it's my favorite liturgical moment in the Church's life.

Then on Sunday, we'll eat a lot.

I don't know what my kids will remember, but it's worth a shot!

 

Jonah McKeown, Staff Writer/Producer

Sarah and I are planning to get dressed up to watch the Easter Mass livestream. I'll wear a tie and she'll wear a dress, just to make it a more formal occasion as we celebrate Easter.


Carl Bunderson, Managing Editor

*Go to confession

*Breviary and Missae siccae

For a traditional (i.e. pre-’55) Holy Week, these are great resources to pray the Breviary and to pray the propers of the Masses, and Good Friday’s Mass of the Presanctified:

Set the date you want, and select "Divino Afflatu" for the rubrics. This will give you the texts to pray both the Divine Office and the Mass.

Maundy Thursday Tenebrae

Good Friday Tenebrae

Holy Saturday Tenebrae

Live streams of Tenebrae and other services at the FSSP’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish will be available here or here.

Tenebrae are traditionally anticipated the preceding evening, so Maundy Thursday’s should begin at 1900 MDT on April 8.

For more information about traditional Holy Week, this includes links to a wonderful series of articles describing the rite.

If you come across a hand Missal printed before 1955, buy it.

*Listen to these Holy Week meditations by Fr James Jackson, FSSP.

*On Good Friday listen to Bach’s St John Passion, Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.

*On Holy Saturday read von Balthasar’s booklet Life Out of Death.

*On Easter Sunday, eat lamb. Do not cook it too much. Listen to Bach’s cantatas Christ lag in Todesbanden and Der Himmel lacht! Die Erde jubilieret, and the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles’ Easter at Ephesus.

*Throughout the year, support your local ethnic markets. I found this week that the nearby Polish market that I used to frequent, and where I always stocked up on kielbasa and other goodies for Easter, is no more. Now I have to search out a new Polish market.

Let this be a lesson to us all.

 

 

Catholic groups call for ethical healthcare triage in coronavirus pandemic

CNA Staff, Apr 9, 2020 / 02:52 pm (CNA).- Catholic healthcare and bioethics groups have called for national protocols that eschew discrimination by age or disability as patients of the coronavirus pandemic are assigned medical care, including scarce resources like ventilators.

“We call for a national set of clear and ethical triage protocols that affirm the dignity of all people. Until then, we urge hospitals and health care professionals to adopt protocols that protect the vulnerable and reject discrimination. The principle of the equal dignity and value of every human life depend on it,” the National Catholic Bioethics Center and the Christus Medicus Foundation said in an April 9 statement.

“America’s healthcare workers on the frontlines are already confronting this question as they work to save lives in unprecedented triage situations in our homeland. The situation will worsen in the coming days. Who is given lifesaving care in a time of limited intensive care capacity and rationed equipment is one of the greatest moral questions our nation has ever faced,” the statement added.

“How we respond is a reflection of our values, one that will define us forever.”

On Thursday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan agreed.

“I sit here in New York, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. It is imperative to provide our exhausted healthcare heroes with the tools they need to be able to make true and sound ethical decisions to all patients in their care. I join together with the NCBC ethicists, and others, in asking that all people are treated equally and with the God-given dignity they deserve,” Dolan said.

The groups said that making decisions about healthcare allocation should not include discrimination based upon age or disability, assessment of the “quality of life” of patients, or metrics based upon the likely remaining lifespan of the patient apart from the illness.

“We urge hospitals and healthcare workers to use survivability as the litmus test for rationing care during triage. Anything more is stereotyping. Once decisions are expanded to include nonclinical factors and value judgments, discrimination and injustice inevitably ensue,” the statement said.

Dr. Joseph Meaney, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, explained that “the ethical principles guiding such protocols must reject utilitarian or value-laden assessments that extend beyond the crisis situation and enshrine the view that some lives have more value than others.”

Healthcare rationing and discrimination has been a topic of controversy in recent weeks, amid the global coronavirus pandemic that has taken hold of the U.S. healthcare system.

On Wednesday, the federal department of Health and Human Services resolved a disability rights case with Alabama officials, after the state removed controversial triage guidelines recommending that people with severe intellectual disabilities be denied ventilators in the event of shortages at medical facilities.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said April 8 that it had conducted a compliance review of the state following complaints that its 2010 guidelines for triage care allegedly discriminated against people with intellectual disabilities. Alabama has agreed to remove its ventilator rationing guidelines from state websites, HHS said April 8.

“People with intellectual disabilities must be treated the same way, and not be treated as somehow less fit, or less worthy, of having their lives saved, compared to somebody who has greater intellectual abilities,” stated Roger Severino, head of the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in a Wednesday conference call with reporters.

More than 16,000 people in the U.S. have died of the novel coronavirus, and more than 460,000 have tested positive for it. Globally, nearly 100,000 have been recorded dead from coronavirus, and almost 1.6 million have tested positive for it.

Outreach just as 'essential' as abortion, say pro-life advocates

Washington D.C., Apr 9, 2020 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- As many abortion clinics remain open during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, pro-life sidewalk counselors argue that they too provide “essential” services and should be allowed to gather.

As the coronavirus has spread through the U.S., states, counties and municipalities have curtailed public gatherings of more than 10 people to comply with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Some pro-life prayer vigils have been halted for weeks as a public health precaution. On March 22, the ministry 40 Days for Life ended its spring 2020 campaign of public prayer vigils outside abortion clinics as state and local restrictions on public gatherings increased in number and intensity.

Even as states act to prevent unnecessary gatherings and divert all available medical resources to fight the pandemic, in many places abortion clinics have been designated as providing “essential” services, and allowed to tremain open. In several states, orders to cancel non-essential medical procedures during the pandemic which included elective abortions have been challeneged in court by abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. 

While the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Texas’ abortion-limiting order this week, the Sixth Circuit allowed procedures to continue in Ohio. Federal judges in Alabama and Oklahoma also ruled against state orders limiting abortions in those states during the pandemic.

Some pro-life prayer vigils and sidewalk counseling have continued, but in several states participants have been subject to visits by law enforcement.

According to Live Action News, pro-life prayer vigils outside abortion clinics in Michigan, Ohio, California, and Wisconsin were recently approached by law enforcement and asked to leave for supposedly being in violation of state or local orders. No arrests were made in those cases. 

However, in two cases in North Carolina, arrests were made at pro-life prayer vigils for supposedly being in violation of the state’s prohibition on public gatherings larger than 10 people.

Pro-life advocate David Benham, president of Cities4Life, and other pro-life sidewalk counselors were arrested by police in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 4 for being part of a gathering of more than 10 people. They were praying and offering sidewalk counseling outside the abortion clinic A Preferred Women’s Health Center.

According to social media for the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department, around 50 people were observed by police to be gathered outside the clinic.

The department said that “officers observed approximately fifty (50) protesters congregating outside of the clinic. The gathering was determined to be a violation of mass gatherings in the North Carolina Stay at Home Order. Those who exceeded the allowed amount of ten were asked to leave.”

The state’s governor Roy Cooper had issued an executive order on March 27 ordering residents to “stay at home” except for “essential” activities.

In a video, Benham was seen telling an officer that he was part of a “recognized charity” that was “offering essential services” to women who were considering abortions.

He told the officer that he and other pro-life counselors were “practicing social distancing,” and that the police should “go in the abortion clinic and make the arrests there” out of concern for mass gatherings during the pandemic.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tweeted that Benham’s arrest was “unconstitutional and a serious abuse of power.”

The legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a letter to the city’s attorney on Benham’s behalf, arguing that Benham’s group and Love Life, another group of pro-life advocates, are not subject to the order’s 10-person gathering prohibition as they are charitable organizations providing social services.

Furthermore, on April 4 the pro-life advocates were outdoors with people properly spaced apart, ADF said. Counsel for the groups had previously confirmed with a police officer that they were within their rights to pray on sidewalks outside the clinic provided that they maintained a six-foot minimum distance between persons and had hand sanitizer available.

ADF argued in its letter that the pro-life groups are religious nonprofits “providing charitable and social support services to vulnerable persons” and thus “qualify as ‘Essential Business’” under the governor’s order and should not be subject to the 10-person limit on gatherings.

The right to free speech “in public fora like the streets and sidewalks” is “well-established,” ADF said, and “[a]ny prohibition on this expressive activity in these fora is subject to strict scrutiny.” The city’s act to disperse the prayer gathering of more than ten people outside is “arbitrary and a pretext for discrimination based on protected speech,” ADF said.

“Please instruct any City of Charlotte officers or employees to drop all criminal charges pending against my clients and discontinue their interference with their right to engage in assembly, prayer, counseling, and other expressive activities on public property,” ADF senior counsel Kevin Theriot stated in his letter.

Members of the group Love Life were also arrested in Greensboro, North Carolina on March 28 and again on March 30 while praying outside an abortion clinic. According to citations, they were arrested for travel[ing] for a non-essential function [/purpose],” unlawfully traveling by car to the location rather than on foot.

ADF also sent a letter to the city of Greensboro on behalf of the pro-life advocates, saying the groups limited their activities to fewer than 10 people to comply with local regulations, and that participants were spaced out more than six feet apart.

How Catholics can be inspired by art during Holy Week

Denver, Colo., Apr 9, 2020 / 02:01 pm (CNA).- As churches and museums remain closed, Catholic artists have encouraged people to be inspired this Holy Week by finding beauty online or even attempting to create projects themselves.

Andrew Julo is the director and curator for the Verostko Center for the Arts at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He told CNA that Catholics should look for both familiar and new pieces of art that flow with the narrative of Holy Week.

He said, for example, Catholics should dwell on art that relates to Christ washing the disciples’ feet, the Passion of Good Friday, or the Resurrection on Easter. He said people may also find art depicting pandemics to express solidarity with those who have died of COVID-19.

“Find images that correspond with the days of Holy Week, assemble your own digital exhibition and share it online. While the majority of these digital reproductions can never substitute the experience of seeing the original work in person, they still possess an ability to move our minds and hearts,” he said.

According to the New York Times, the coronavirus has infected over 1.4 million people and killed over 83,000. In response, many international leaders have placed their countries on lockdown, halting church services, artistic entertainment, and numerous businesses.

He pointed to the recent actions from museums around the world who have begun to offer virtual tours online to engage people in art. He suggested viewers take their time in viewing the art and expand the images to the maximum space on the screen to minimize the distractions from ads and other pictures.

“There's lots of museums throughout the world that are looking to connect with their audiences by sharing their exhibitions, posing questions on social media, and asking folks at home to spend more time looking closely at works of art in their collections,” he said.

Virtual tours of Catholic art, such as pieces by Raphael, Botticelli, da Vinci, Crivelli, and Caravaggio, are being offered for free online through several museums. Among others, a virtual tour may be accessed to view paintings within the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and National Gallery in London.

For Holy Week, Julo suggested that Catholics view Ford Brown’s Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet; Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece, which depicts a mangled Christ; and Exsultet scrolls. He said the website of the British Library includes a beautiful example used at the Benedictine Abbey of Montecassino during the 11th century.

“Grünewald imaged Christ with the same lesions that afflicted patients who were dying from the disfiguring disease of ergotism. Here, Christ’s body reminds us of the importance and fragility of our physical being. With so many individuals throughout the world suffering from COVID-19, an image of the crucifixion this year prompts us to remember these infirmities with greater attention,” he said.

David Clayton, an artist and a writer who runs The Way of Beauty, has emphasized the importance of using images in collaboration with prayer. He told CNA that visio divina, “divine seeing,” is a powerful tool alongside liturgical readings, scripture, and the daily office.

“I think the experience that's going to bear fruit is one of prayer and a pattern of prayer that has the liturgical piety at its heart,” he said. “Then have satellites around that of Catholic devotions, many of which engage with visual imagery.”

He stressed three periods of art that promote authentic beauty – iconography, Gothic, and the Baroque.

He pointed to pieces by Gregory Kroug, a Russian monk and early 20th-century iconographer of the Eastern Orthodox Church; the Madonna and Child by the Gothic painter Duccio; and The Virgin in Prayer by Sassoferrato. He also drew attention to Princeton University, which has recently cataloged images online of icons from Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai.

Gwyneth Thompson-Briggs, a sacred artist who creates custom religious art for homes and churches, discussed with CNA the importance of sacred art as a means to more fully engage in truth. She said art is particularly impactful because humans are both physical and spiritual beings.

“We're made of body and spirit, and, so because of that, the things that we come in contact within a physical world really do affect our soul,” she said.

“It's through the visible that we are able to approach the invisible. So the experience of tactile beauty is a hint of the supernatural beauty that we'll be encountering in heaven. I think Thomas Aquinas says that beauty is the attractive power of truth.”

She suggested that images be viewed slowly and alongside prayer, noting that it is important to allow the art time to open up to the viewer. She said, during the last Palm Sunday, she brought out books of Western art to help engage her children and herself.

“I was grabbing art history books in our living room and looking at great images of Western art from the Baroque and Renaissance and following through the entire Passion. Then looking at images of the agony in the garden or Christ before Pilate or the crowning of thorns,” she said.

“Don't be in a rush. It takes a while for beauty to unfold itself,” she said. “Making space to really focus on a single painting or a single work of music, [it] really draw[s] all of your attentive powers to experiencing it. I think that can lead to a much more profound understanding and engagement with it.”

She also suggested that Catholics participate in creativity themselves, whether through painting, woodworking, gardening, or knitting.

She said domestic practices may also become transformed into something more valuable for the holiday. She suggested using foods depicted in the Passion, like lamb and unleavened bread, or symbolic dishes, like Good Friday’s hot cross buns, which are topped with a cross and cooked with spices used to signify Christ’s burial.

“These days of quarantine … you find yourself with a bit more time on your hands, but also maybe feeling a bit more anxious and needing to find some constructive way to occupy yourself and find outlets for hope,” she said.

“I think that personal experiences of creativity or making something beautiful is a really great blessing.”

Julo also emphasized the value of creativity. He said that the domestic Church is where Christianity began and he stressed the value of fostering an opportunity to honor the Sacred Triduum. He said people should mark Easter with a special action, whether that is through music, poetry, or even a simple walk.

“It's helpful to remember that church began in people's homes. So we in some ways are participating in something that is also very ancient in the domestic space,” he said.

“I would encourage people to try to be creative about how they honor the Sacred Triduum. Gather flowers, branches, or greenery for inside. Light candles. Set up a corner in your home with sacred images including members of your family you’re not able to share physical space with right now. Before meals, make your dining area festive with a table cloth and your nicest place settings ...Whether alone or with others, ritualize your meals.”

Kansas limits Easter church services to 10 people or less

CNA Staff, Apr 9, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- The state of Kansas is limiting religious services to no more than ten people for Easter as part of measures to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order on Tuesday requiring religious institutions to abide by the state’s current prohibition on public gatherings or 10 or more people during the public health emergency.

“As Holy Week gets underway – and with Kansas rapidly approaching its projected ‘peak’ infection rate in the coming weeks – the risk for a spike in COVID-19 cases through church gatherings is especially dangerous,” Kelly said April 7.

The governor’s previous executive order on mass gatherings exempted religious institutions, although it encouraged churches to broadcast their services online and over the radio “wherever possible” in order to not have “in-person” gatherings.  

Now, religious gatherings are still allowed as “essential services” but are limited to 10 people at a time where participants must maintain “social distancing” and proper hygiene.

The spread of the virus necessitated the requirement to curtail mass religious gatherings during Holy Week, Kelly said on Tuesday.

There have been 1,046 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kansas with 38 deaths, as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the state’s health department. Nationwide, there have been more than 395,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 12,754 deaths as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

All public Masses in Kansas have already been suspended during the COVID-19 crisis. The Archdiocese of Kansas City, along with the dioceses of Wichita, Salina, and Dodge City, will be livestreaming Masses and liturgies during the Easter Triduum.

Private family gatherings are not subject to the updated order’s prohibitions, and neither are establishments such as “shopping malls and other retail establishments where large numbers of people are present but are generally not within arm’s length of one another for more than 10 minutes.”

Libraries are also allowed to remain open, as are restaurants and bars with spaces of six feet or more between tables, booths, bar stools and ordering counters.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City wrote in an April 3 column that “Christian charity also requires that we exercise prudence. We need to observe Governor Kelly’s executive order.”

Kelly had issued a March 26 “stay home” order allowing residents to leave their homes only to get food and medicine, for work, medical care, care of family members or pets, or outdoor exercise, or other “essential” activities.

Naumann wrote that Catholics have an “obligation in charity” to help prevent the spread of the virus through “remaining at home except for essential tasks, social distancing, washing our hands, not gathering in large groups, etc.”

He praised the governor’s recognition of a constitutional right for religious services to still proceed, saying that some counties and municipalities had tried to ban religious activities outright including weddings and funerals.

“Government cannot permit liquor stores, pet stores and dry cleaners to continue to operate and not allow religious activities,” he wrote.

“At the same time, for the good of the public health of our communities, our churches are rightly obligated to observe the same limitations — e.g., the number of people who can assemble or the social distancing that is required of other organizations and enterprises.”

Low-wage workers ‘first to suffer’ in economic collapse, Catholic labor advocates say 

Denver, Colo., Apr 9, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- Amid the dramatic collapse of the American labor market, Catholic labor advocates have called for a collaborative response that protects the weakest and advances the common good.

“I would argue that in our job structure the person who would look lowest is the most important,” Father Sinclair Oubre, spiritual moderator of the Catholic Labor Network, told CNA.

“Think coronavirus in the hospital. It’s not the doctor who is most important, it is the custodian who kills the germs and kills the staph and kills all those things that gets people sick in the hospital,” he added. “If that person isn't there, I don't care how good the doctor is or how great the nurses are. That will be a death house because of the infectious diseases allowed to persist.”

The Catholic Labor Network helps advance Catholic social teaching on labor and work and aims to support workers.

As authorities across the country have ordered people to stay at home and placed other restrictions on businesses, millions have been laid off.

More than 16 million Americans have submitted initial unemployment claims in the last three weeks, and many economists predict that unemployment could eventually exceed the 25% peak of the Great Depression.

Many prospective applicants for unemployment benefits report they have been unsuccessful at filing claims, as state agencies face a surge in applicants, while dealing with the logistics and safety measures intended to help reduce the spread of the contagious disease.

Oubre reflected on the economic situation.

“We’ve based our economy on the service sector. The service sector is just being devastated,” he said.

Receptionists, waiters, busboys and dishwashers are all out of work. While some restaurants are still doing take-out food their customers are significantly less in number, as are the bills and the tips.

Industry has also been heavily hit by pandemic shutdown. Clayton Sinyai, executive director of the Catholic Labor Network, told CNA that even though work continues in areas like construction, construction workers rarely have employer-paid health insurance.

This means families are dependent for health coverage on a now-furloughed or out-of-work spouse who worked in a hotel or a store, Sinyai said.

Health care workers are “truly on the front lines” and risking disease and sometimes death, as some hospitals in the worst-hit areas face a surge in patients, Oubre said. At the same time, emergency orders to cancel elective surgeries to free up protective equipment and other resources for medical workers have caused medical workers involved in these surgeries to face layoffs.

Oubre who is also pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Orange, Texas, said labor unions are concerned about the economic health of their members, and also want to secure workers’ basic safety and protection from contagion.

Usually companies follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards requiring gloves, masks, goggles and hardhats, but with the pandemic needs have now shifted.

“All of a sudden it’s not just a respiratory mask to prevent inhaling dust as you’re grinding on metal or chipping away rust,” said Oubre. “Now it’s other types of masks, or more masks, just when you're interacting with the people you work with along the way.”

Some sectors have seen a need for workers, including pharmacy work, online delivery, and grocery delivery. Walmart and Amazon are seeking tens of thousands of people.

Oubre noted that workers like those at Amazon warehouses must ask themselves “How do I know that everyone here has not been exposed?”

Hundreds of employees interact with warehouse technology and stored products. They interact with each other, sometimes not being able to keep at the recommended physical distance. These warehouse and delivery systems need “an incredibly efficient progress” and are very vulnerable to any inefficiencies, in Oubre's analysis.

He voiced concerns that Amazon has a history of opposing labor rights, to the point of alleged violations of laws protecting labor organizers.

After workers at a Staten Island Amazon warehouse tested positive for COVID-19, about 100 workers walked off the job March 31 to demand better safety protections, according to The Guardian and the New York Post.

After the publication of this story, an Amazon spokesperson contacted CNA to say that by the company's count, the number who walked off the job was only 15, a number also reported by Reuters.

One employee who helped organize the walkout was fired: Chris Smalls, a former assistant manager. According to Newsweek, Smalls claims the company is misrepresenting the number of workers known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The company rejects Smalls' claim and said that Smalls was fired for violating social distancing requirements needed because of his close contact with a person confirmed to have had coronavirus.

Amazon’s founder, billionaire Jeff Bezos, has become one of the richest men in the world.

A spokesperson for Amazon told CNA that “like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable. We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances and in Staten Island we are now temperature checking everyone entering the facility. The truth is the vast majority of employees continue to show up and do the heroic work of delivering for customers every day.”

Workers at Whole Foods, the 95,000-employee grocery store chain owned by Amazon, held a sick-out on March 31, saying they should have more sick pay and more health protections during the pandemic, Bloomberg News reports.

Organizers  have said the store should shut down any store where a worker tests positive for the virus. They have sought paid leave for workers who choose to self-isolate, health care coverage for part-time employees, and funds for testing and treatment of sick co-workers. In January the company had dropped health care benefits for part-time employees who work under 30 hours a week.

The company has given temporary raises of $2 per hour through April and overtime compensation. It said employees put in quarantine or diagnosed with the new coronavirus are eligible for paid sick leave.

Workers for Instacart, a grocery delivery company, held a strike March 30, seeking better protections and hazard pay of $5 per order. About 200,000 contract workers run grocery deliveries for the startup, which has seen a 150% surge in order volume over last year.

Instacart’s response included an announcement of plans to distribute health and safety supplies to its full-service workers and a new default system for tipping on its app, claiming this would make tips higher and more consistent. The company said it already instituted retroactive sick pay for its in-store workers affected by the coronavirus. Hourly workers could receive bonuses between $25 and $200, NBC News reports.

For Sinyai, the labor network’s executive director, the coronavirus pandemic shows that low-income workers are “often the last to benefit in good times and the first to suffer in hard times.”

“Those who continue to work and draw a paycheck are disproportionately drawn from the ranks of white-collar workers who can often do their jobs online; firms lay off line workers before they lay off managers. In contrast, those who work with their hands are usually unable to work from home. This crisis has brought mass unemployment to retail workers, hotel workers, airline employees and restaurant servers and cooks.”

Pope Francis’ “Urbi et Orbi” of March 27 made a special mention of those working under the threat of the coronavirus, saying:

“It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.”

Sinyai said that Pope Francis' words recall those who “soldier on during the crisis, enabling the rest of us to shelter in place.”

“These people remain at great risk of infection, illness and death so that we may live,” he said. “It’s shameful that OSHA has not yet issued an emergency workplace safety standard protecting workers from unnecessary risk during the pandemic.”

Obure appreciated that the Pope involved everyone, “from the doctors down to the cleaning people.”

“It’s all the people working and interacting together to get through this thing,” he said. “It’s when we divide ourselves up and not reach out that we really get in danger.”

“We really have two choices; we can either hunker down in our houses and hope that we survive this or we can, even in the physical distancing law that we are in, take action,” he added.

Oubre invoked the example of a Vietnamese-American woman who normally works as a crab distributor, buying 5,000 pounds of crabs per day from the crabbers. She has now pivoted to making masks and giving them away to Fr. Oubre and his staff.

“She’s thinking seriously: how can she help her brothers and sisters,” he said. “They’re not medical-grade quality, but they will give us something that we can then exercise greater precaution.”

Oubre mentioned a local manufacturer who normally makes industrial strength insulation, but now is working to retool to produce face protections and medical-grade masks. Besides helping the pandemic response, the retooling will help his employees return to work.

Even with the difficulties of physical distancing, Oubre said, building community is the way for workers and the unemployed to advocate for themselves.

In his view, labor has suffered in recent decades not only because of legislation, but because of “radical individualism.”

“I think because of our radical individual thinking as Americans, it’s hard for us to say ‘I will sacrifice for myself so that my brothers and sisters will have more’ even though that is a fundamental idea of solidarity within trade unionism and our Catholic social teaching,” Oubre told CNA.

Catholic social teaching's promotion of the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity all have roles to play, Oubre summarized.

“Solidarity is being concerned for our brothers and sisters. It’s not just pulling up the draw bridge and hunkering down for ourselves,” he said. “Promoting the common good is constantly a concern, because (the coronavirus) threatens the whole common good, not a class of people or a type of people.”

While some people are demanding federal government action, Oubre said, “fundamentally it comes down to how we handle this at the lowest level. Although the government is going to have a very important role to play... it's going to be how we act in Orange, Texas, or some other place that determines how long this thing is actually going to last.”

At the same time, Oubre was worried that restrictions might be lifted too soon.

“The dangers are clear: we could just have a second wave. We'll be right back into it,” he said.

Sinyai said people with some abundance and without fear of hunger, eviction or foreclosure must be prepared to sacrifice, adding “America’s low-income workers deserve both our prayers and our financial support as they rebuild their lives, careers and savings in the aftermath of the epidemic.”

Ed. note: After the publication of this story, an Amazon spokesperson contacted CNA to dispute the report that 100 workers walked out of the company's Staten Island facility March 31. The company said the number was actually 15. The story has been updated to include Amazon's figure.

‘It’s a trauma for our children’: How the pandemic is impacting foster kids 

Denver, Colo., Apr 9, 2020 / 04:30 am (CNA).- Foster care is a difficult business in the best of times.

Social workers must ensure that children in need are given loving and safe homes, while trying to help them maintain contact and a relationship with their biological family. Kids have to adjust to new families and new routines while keeping up with schoolwork. Families accepting foster children are routinely monitored and must make adjustments to accommodate the new member of their family, who will be with them for an often unknown period of time.

Now, adding a pandemic - and all of its isolating and social distancing requirements - into the mix has made matters even more difficult.

“It's a trauma for our children who've had a life built and now it's gone,” Martha Holben, who works as the child welfare assistant director for St. Vincent Catholic Charities in Lansing, Michigan, told CNA.

Holben told CNA that for foster children, whose lives are already marked with so much disruption, the routine of school, and seeing friends and teachers they can count on, as well as regularly scheduled meetings with their families, are a big deal.

“And one day that was just all gone,” Holben said. “So we're definitely seeing an increase in some outbursts with kiddos because their schedule is gone, and the people that they've built into their life that they could trust - their principal, their guidance counselor - all of that is gone, and some of them are too young to really understand why.”

Michigan has been one of the harder-hit states in the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with 20,346 confirmed cases and 959 deaths as of April 8. Holben said that while none of her program’s children and families have yet been diagnosed with coronavirus, concerns about spreading the disease have made it very difficult to find new foster families for children in recent weeks.

“We've had a child that we've been searching for placement for a couple of weeks,” she said.

“Luckily right now he's in a place that's willing to keep placement until another placement is able to be located, but because of the risk of COVID-19, prospective foster parents for this child are not willing to take a new placement right now,” Holben added.

While none of the children have tested positive for coronavirus, Holben said that families worry about accepting new children because experts believe that many people are carriers of the virus without ever showing symptoms, and prospective foster families are hesitant to put the rest of their family at risk.

Jennifer Hartwig is the senior program manager of foster care services for Catholic Charities Community Services in Phoenix, Arizona. So far, the state of Arizona has not been as hard hit by coronavirus as states like Louisiana, Illinois, California or New York. As of April 8, there were 2,726 cases in Arizona and 80 deaths.

Hartwig told CNA that their foster care program has changed the way it offers services - basically everything is online for now - “but we are going above and beyond trying to meet the needs of all of our families at this time. So we haven't slowed down,” she said.

Families in the area are also still offering to take children in, even though the threat of coronavirus remains, Hartwig added.

“The response has been wonderful. Families are still stepping up,” she said. “The director of DCS (Department of Child Safety) does weekly updates for all of the providers in the area, and we're still seeing about 20 children a day coming into the system needing homes. So children are still being placed at this time, and the families are stepping up.”

Hartwig compared social workers working with foster children to first responders, and added that while they are doing basically everything virtually, they do have permission from the governor and the DCS to step in and do home visits if there is a suspected crisis.

“As needed, if there's a crisis, we will go in person and if everybody's healthy and asymptomatic, we will do home visits,” Hartwig said.

“The directive from our governor and from the director of the DCS here in Arizona has stated that all visits have to be virtual…(but) safety's number one. That's been the message from everyone, child safety is number one,” she said. “We are, I'd say, right under doctors and nurses, we are still first responders.”

Other support being offered to families at this time include help finding diapers or formula or anything else they might need that could be in short supply in stores at this time Hartwig added.

She said when families have had concerns about possible cases of coronavirus, they’ve asked them screening questions and directed them to medical care. But so far, as of last Friday, none of the children in foster care in the state had tested positive for the virus.

“We have about 14-15,000 children in care in the state and (it has been) reported that there's no child that's been tested positive,” Hartwig said.

Unlike Arizona, New York has been the worst-hit state by coronavirus in the U.S. so far, accounting for 149,316 cases, with 6,268 deaths.

Good Shepherd Services, a foster care agency affiliated with the Archdiocese of New York, told CNA it has been scrambling to keep up with new federal, state and local guidelines as the coronavirus pandemic has come full force to the city. Good Shepherd Services oversees children in homes with foster families, as well as children in residential programs.

“I mean it certainly has turned our world upside down,” Denise Hinds, the associate executive director of foster care, juvenile justice and supportive housing at Good Shepherd Services, told CNA.

“It just creates a whole new level of stress and anxiety for everyone. From our own staff, to the birth parents who want to see their kids - they're used to seeing their kids every week- so foster parents have to bring the kids in, or they must have phones, and birth parents have to have cell phones, so it's just become quite an issue,” Hinds said.

Like Holben, Hinds also said she was concerned about the effect that closed schools were having on children in foster care. Not only were the closures disruptive to their routines, but the children are also losing access to additional learning and behavioral supports that are available to them at school.

A higher number of children in foster care “have many learning challenges and oftentimes more than the general population...many of our kids who come into residential care are several grade levels behind their peers, because they've moved around so many times before they get to us. So, we're looking at the most vulnerable of the children in New York City, in terms of education, not having all the services they would normally have on a day to day basis,” she said.

The impact of the pandemic on foster care social workers has also been “tremendous”, Hinds said, because they have had to adapt to every-changing guidelines while still trying to meet the needs of children, foster families and biological families.

Initially, she said, they were still allowing family visits on-site at their facilities, but as time has gone on, the program has had to adapt to virtual visits and meetings, unless safety issues are a concern. 

“This is all very new to us and to the families,” Hinds said.

Michelle Yanche, executive director of Good Shepherd Services, told CNA that the program had a “wake-up call” early on in the stages of coronavirus restrictions and shutdowns when, on a Friday night, a foster parent called, looking for a different placement for the child under their care, because the parent was showing symptoms of what was feared to be coronavirus.

The parent’s test for the virus was ultimately negative, and the child was able to be returned to the home, but Yanche said it made her realize that they would immediately need to implement new coronavirus protocols.

“It quickly was a wake up call for us that we need some new systems to be in place...to be able to manage these kinds of potential disruptions in the middle of the night,” she said. Fortunately, she said, those kind of late-night interventions have “not been as needed as we worried that it would be.”

Still, Hinds said they have had to move children around who have been exposed to the virus, but they have been lucky in finding foster homes to send them too. While they’re not onboarding a lot of new families at this time, she said families on their list have stepped up to take in these children despite the risk of the virus.

“So, those are some of the complexities, but we have been very fortunate to be able to continue our intake and support children when needed with our existing vacant foster homes,” she said. “We're continuing to do that as we have been all along. I don't think that has slowed down at all.”

Like leaders at a lot of organizations, Hinds and Yanche are also worried about the long-term financial impacts that a prolonged economic downturn will have on their programs.

Another concern has been providing PPE (personal protective equipment) to staff who either need to do in-home visits to homes that have known cases of or exposure to coronavirus, as well as staff in residential programs with children who may have been exposed and are in quarantine under their care, Hinds added.

“We're doing our best to get a hold of equipment, and we've had some support from Catholic Charities and other organizations, but it is a daily concern because we have 24/7 programming,” she said. “So, we're guarding our N95's (facemasks) like it's gold right now...we want to make sure we can keep our staff safe.”

Holben told CNA that people who want to help foster children, but are unable to open their homes to them, can be helpful through prayer.

“All of our foster parents, regardless of what we're going through or regardless of what they've gone through in any cases, they always need prayers. All of our kiddos need prayers, our biological families need prayers,” she said.

“So I just always like to put a little plug out there when people don't know what they can do for foster kiddos or parents. Just send some positive energy our way so that we can all get through it. Because it's stressful enough without the added COVID-19 stuff.”

 

'Troubadours' look to inject Chesterton’s joy, humor into a coronavirus-hit country

Wichita, Kan., Apr 9, 2020 / 03:01 am (CNA).- A group of five friends, and scholars of the Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton, are launching an online lecture series with the hopes of sparking interest in Chesterton’s work, and infusing joy and humor into a country reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

The series, “Tuesdays with the Troubadours”, began April 7 and is put on by the Society of Gilbert Keith Chesterton, a lay apostolate.

The presenters will offer a short talk on a topic related to the faith, followed by a panel discussion and a Q&A. Participants can sign up for the free series and receive a link to join via Zoom video conferencing.

William Fahey, president of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire, told CNA that he and the other four presenters— The Troubadours— became friends as presenters at the annual Prairie Troubadour Conference, put on by the G.K. Chesterton Society and held in Fort Scott, Kansas, 160 miles east of Wichita.

The goal of the series is to recreate  virtually the spirit of that conference.

“I tossed out an idea in an email exchange—almost as a fanciful thought—that all of us should just give an online conference,” Fahey told CNA.

“Everyone moved on the idea quickly...it was the fruit of friendship.”

Fahey said he hopes the friendship and levity of the group will come across online.

“Joy is of the Christian spirit,” Fahey said, citing the motto of the college he leads, which is taken from St. Paul: caritas congaudet veritati; charity rejoices in the truth.

“Catholics, especially on the cusp of darkness, can get quite melancholy and gloomy. But I think the Catholic character...is to laugh when the chips are down and ride on,” he said.

What is a troubadour, anyway?

Troubadours were medieval poets and storytellers, who went from place to place and often lived a mendicant lifestyle. St. Francis of Assisi in particular is often remembered as a “troubadour of God” for his mendicant lifestyle and joy.

Christopher Check, president of the media apostolate Catholic Answers, told CNA that his presentation, set for April 28, will focus on the importance of storytelling, especially in education.

He pointed out that many students today are fed a steady diet of practically oriented readings, with a decreased emphasis on stories that "capture the imagination and impart a moral truth."

"And yet, when Our Lord wants to impart a truth, what does he do? He tells stories," Check said.

"This is the educational device par excellence: the story. And Our Lord knew it."

Joie de vivre

Chesterton, the inspiration for the series, was born in 1874 and became a prolific writer and staunch Catholic apologist after his conversion to the faith. He is renowned for writing apologetic classics such as “Orthodoxy” and “The Everlasting Man,” as well as for his fictional “Father Brown” series, among many other works.

He died in 1936 and is remembered for his humor and wit.

Check said the virtual conference aims to whet participant's appetites for the writings of Catholic authors like Chesterton, and to be in the company of fellow Catholics “and feel that joy” when the coronavirus outbreak ends.

Joseph Pearce, another presenter and director of book publishing at the Augustine Institute, told CNA that Chesterton's way of seeing the world was and is very Catholic, because a sense of humor, infused with grace, is crucial for evangelization.

Troubadours, in a Catholic sense, have a spirit of joie de vivre that comes from faith in Christ, Pearce said.

Chesterton brought people to God through a hearty cheerfulness and jollity, with a smile on his face, Pearce said.

"Basically, the victory is already won. We, as Christians, understand that God is in charge...we really should be walking around full of that joy, the joie de vivre that comes from the joie de crist, from the joy of Christ. And if that's not present, there's something wrong," Pearce told CNA.

Fostering a troubadour attitude

The spirit of the troubadours has a rambunctiousness about it, Pearce said.

"The whole idea of the format is that the seriousness of the message is nonetheless delivered with 'levitas'— gravity with levity," he explained.

He mentioned a famous Chesterton quote from his book “Orthodoxy”: Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.

"Yes, I want to talk about serious things, while at the same time having that Chestertonian levity," Pearce said.

"That's what we should be aiming at. What Chesterton succeeded in doing so well is something that we disciples of Chesterton should try to emulate," he said.

Lahey recommended that Catholics wishing to foster a “troubadour” attitude within themselves ought to read such authors as Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Buchan— “things that are adventurous; things that make them want to live large and risk.”

Check agreed, also recommending that Catholics tend to their interior spiritual lives during the coronavirus outbreak. He recommended praying the Divine Office at home— “in that prayer, you'll see penitential psalms, but you'll also see psalms of joy,” he said.

He also encouraged Catholics to get a copy of the Mundelein Psalter and say Lauds and Vespers around the kitchen table.

"We're about to enter the Easter Season, where the feasting really just goes on and on and keeps going on, a time of great joy," he noted.

"And all of the Divine Office is going to reflect that joy. So that is a sure recommendation I would make to people."

 

Catholic non-profit highlights dignity of people with disabilities amid coronavirus

CNA Staff, Apr 8, 2020 / 07:19 pm (CNA).- Amid limited medical supplies, the National Catholic Partnership on Disability released a statement on the sanctity of life, emphasizing that treatment priority is not based on ableism.

“Every patient is worth treating, but not every medical treatment is worth providing. This determination must be based on an evaluation of the potential success of the treatment, not a value judgment about the person requiring aid,” the NCPD said in a recent statement.

According to the New York Times, COVID-19 has infected over 1.4 million people and resulted in over 80,000 deaths worldwide. Hospitals across the U.S. have reported dangerous shortages of necessary medical supplies, including hospital beds and ventilators, causing doctors to make life-or-death decisions.

The organization said, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, priority of treatment policies and do not resuscitate policies should be based on the medical evidence of a treatment's success.

According to the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these policies should not be built on “stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative ‘worth’ based on the presence or absence of disabilities.”

The priority of treatment must be established with an documentable major organ function criteria, which is applied consistently and without exemptions. The organization said it is permissible to implement DNR policies when the medical treatment is futile and other patients are in need of the same resources.

“For example, a 45- year-old with quadriplegia and respiratory failure is not likely to survive COVID19, despite the family’s desire that ‘everything be done,’” the organization said.

However, the NCPD said this should only be permitted after a review of objective physiological criteria and families are provided with accessible policies including legal appeal and transportation to other medical practitioners.

The NCPD said treatment should not be biased toward a current or anticipated quality of life determining who is more or less valuable to society. The organization emphasized the dignity of the human person present in all people.

“For example, if an adult man with Down syndrome, who has significant cognitive impairment but no major organ deficits, presents with compromised respiratory function due to COVID19, he should not be denied a ventilator based on an ethic that others who can contribute more to society upon recovery are more deserving,” the organization said.

“As a society the concept of solidarity with fellow human beings dictates that any DNR or triage policy must treat each person as a unique irreplaceable human being. This applies to all human beings, including persons with disabilities.”

During the Day for Life Message in July 2013, Pope Francis emphasized the human dignity of people with disabilities. He said all creatures, no matter their vulnerability, are deserving of respect.

“Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect,” said Pope Francis.

Alabama removes disability triage guidelines after HHS complaint

Washington D.C., Apr 8, 2020 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has resolved a disability rights case with Alabama after the state removed controversial triage guidelines recommending that people with severe intellectual disabilities be denied ventilators in the event of shortages at medical facilities.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said April 8 that it had conducted a compliance review of the state following complaints that its 2010 guidelines for triage care allegedly discriminated against people with intellectual disabilities. Alabama has agreed to remove its ventilator rationing guidelines from state websites, HHS said on Wednesday.

The issue of healthcare rationing plans in different states has raised ethical concerns as the coronavirus pandemic leads to anticipated strain on critical care facilities across the country. 

“It’s about saying that people with intellectual disabilities must be treated the same way, and not be treated as somehow less fit, or less worthy, of having their lives saved, compared to somebody who has greater intellectual abilities,” stated Roger Severino, head of the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in a Wednesday conference call with reporters.

“That’s what this resolution is about, and that’s a message that we want to convey to other states when they’re putting these [rationing] plans together,” Severino said.

The Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and The Arc of the United States, a community-based disability advocacy organization, both filed a complaint with HHS over Alabama’s 2010 guidelines for triage care in the event of a public health emergency and a lack of sufficient number of ventilators.

Even though Alabama recently issued Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) guidelines on February 28, its 2010 standards—the “Criteria for Mechanical Ventilator Triage Following Proclamation of Mass-Casualty Respiratory Emergency”—were still posted on state websites, HHS said.

Those 2010 guidelines, HHS said, “allegedly allowed for denying ventilator services to individuals based on the presence of intellectual disabilities, including ‘profound mental retardation’ and ‘moderate to severe dementia.’”

For instance, the guidelines stated that “persons with severe mental retardation, advanced dementia or severe traumatic brain injury may be poor candidates for ventilator support."

HHS also warned that the old guidelines could “be used to impose blunt age categorizations” to discriminate against patients solely on the basis of their age.

The issue of triage care during the pandemic has led advocates for people with disabilities to warn that medical supply shortages could result in the denial of care to patients simply based on a disability or their advanced age.

Advocates for people with disabilities have also filed a complaint with HHS about the state of Washington’s proposed guidance for triage care, saying it would discriminate against people with disabilities and the elderly.

On March 28, HHS OCR issued a bulletin saying that it is enforcing existing laws to protect against discrimination in health care during the pandemic. The laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Age Discrimination Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act.

“As such, persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person’s relative ‘worth’ based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age,” HHS said.