Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy

Document Type



COVID-19 has had a significant impact on marginalized groups and has amplified the social and health inequalities in society, particularly for people with disabilities (PwDs), who are at higher risk of dying from the coronavirus. As such, it is vital that policies and practices include and protect PwDs, yet that is not the case across the United States. In this article, we examine policies related to COVID-19 that have further othered PwDs and that have created practical and theoretical inequity. In looking at public health strategies that are meant to protect the public, we argue that measures such as social distancing guidelines and the use of remote health care have exacerbated the challenges PwDs already face and risk further harm and exclusion for an already marginalized group. In analyzing health facilities’ triage policies—both those that were in existence prior to the pandemic and those that were created in response to it—we assert that these policies can exclude PwDs from receiving care and that these policies are reflective of existing structural and social inequities. We discuss these same inequities derived from a social utility approach in the plans for distributing COVID-19 vaccines, which devalue or erase PwDs from prioritization, despite their increased health risks from the coronavirus. We conclude by offering suggested changes to existing policies that move toward true equity and accessibility for PwDs and the greater community.