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Responders: The Frontlines

Abled.People: Photo montage of frontline key workers who've died of COVID-19 infection in the U.K.

All around the world, people are paying tribute to frontline responders, key workers and essential workers, no matter how they are classified, for their brave service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially those who died. We join in honoring them worldwide.

The New War Heroes

The analogy that we are at war with the SARS CoV-2 coronavirus has been used many times by politicians and in the media. If this is WWIII, it’s the world at war with the virus, not other countries.

And in this global pandemic, we are all undergoing resets to our view of the world and life. One of the resets is a newly found appreciation and respect for the “soldiers” in this war for their bravery and sacrifice.

They are the heroes on the frontlines who put their lives on the line everyday to try to save those ravaged by COVID-19 – from EMT crews, to the doctors, nurses and other health professionals, and to key or essential workers who take the risk of going to work to provide food, cleaning services, long-term care services, care of the fallen, and much more.

And they are paying a horrific price for their professionalism and bravery, especially in the face of seeing more death than anyone should have to see in a lifetime.

 

The High Cost of Dedication

 

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) estimates over 90,000 nurses, doctors and other health care workers around the world have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Geneva-based organization also estimates that over 260 of them have died. This based on numbers from only 15 percent of all countries worldwide.

They may be soft estimates as its been incredibly difficult to get accurate tallies from many countries because health care services have been so overwhelmed by responding to caseloads that not many have been prioritizing record-keeping, and many governments don’t want to release the data.

Howard Catton, the CEO of ICN also believes the numbers are too low. He estimates the global total at over 200,000 health care worker infections, based on the average 6 percent infection rate in that sector.

He and ICN are calling on governments to immediately start keeping accurate records of infections and deaths among healthcare workers: failure to do so increases the chances of more deaths and fails to honour those who have died.

 

The PPE Crisis

 

It’s likely many of those infections have come from a lack of proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

More and more doctors and nurses on the frontlines are speaking out about their fears and frustrations of being vulnerable to potentially fatal infection because of the dwindling or non-existent amounts of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

Some are being reprimanded, suspended, and in some cases – fired for refusing to treat COVID-19 patients if they don’t have access to proper PPE, especially N95 respirator masks which are said to block about 95% of the small virus particles that become airborne when a patient coughs or sneezes.

The nurses say they are being forced to use surgical masks which won’t provide the same level of protection, or nothing at all. And in both cases, there are no guarantees they will prevent viral infection.

Much of this is based on guidance from the CDC. Janelle Griffith of NBC News reports on what that guidance is, and how it’s forcing more nurses across the country to protest what they call unsafe working conditions.

 

Lost On The Frontline

 

 The Guardian newspaper in London is collaborating with Kaiser Health News on a special series “Lost On The Frontline” as it chronicles the tragic cases of America’s healthcare workers who are dying on the frontlines.

The project aims to document the life of every health care worker in America who dies from COVID-19. If you have a colleague or loved one you think they should include, please share their story.

KHN is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California, that is dedicated to filling the need for trusted information on national health issues. Neither KHN nor the Kaiser Family Foundation is affiliated with the health insurance company Kaiser Permanente.

 

Get / Give PPE

 

GetUsPPE is a grassroots coalition of volunteers mobilized to address the PPE shortage and get healthcare heroes the protection they need.

Click here if you need PPE. Click here if you have PPE to donate.

We’ve curated a number of videos below of how nations, communities and even school students are paying tribute and showing their appreciation for frontline workers.
 
And we are honored to pay tribute, in our own humble way, to these new “war heroes” by naming them “Abled®Icons“.

 

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Tribute To The Fallen

The U.K. has fallen silent in tribute to key workers who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who battled the illness himself, including a spell in intensive care, was among those observing the minute’s silence.

Hospitals, homes, places still working during the lockdown, paused to mark the sombre occasion, remembering the thousands of people to have died so far during the outbreak.

This video is from iTV News.

 

 

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NYC Tributes

On top of food donations and thank you cards and letters, New Yorkers have found a new way to thank health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

All over New York City people open their windows at 7pm every night to cheer for these front line heroes. This small display – growing daily in both size and impact – of gratitude has quickly become the best part of the day for many doctors and nurses.

Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, nearly 800 outpatient facilities and more than 14,200 credentialed physicians.

We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities.

Our 72,000 employees — 17,000-plus nurses and 4,500 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners — are working to change health care for the better.

We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We’re training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies.

Visit https://www.northwell.edu/

 

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Toronto Tribute

A kilometer-long cavalcade of police, fire, paramedics and security services vehicles lined University Avenue in Toronto, Ontario to celebrate the heroic work of Canadian healthcare workers.

The coordinated celebration across Toronto’s ‘Hospital Row’ saw the largest group of emergency services salute hospital and long-term care staff for facing down the pandemic and saving lives.

This video is from the Toronto Police Service.

 

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ABLED® ICON CPT. THOMAS MOORE

Veterans: Captain Tom

Abled.People: Video still of Captain Thomas Moore on his 100th Birthday holding up his medal as he's named an Honorary Colonel.

That’s the name everyone in the U.K. knows this distinguished, but humble, WWII veteran by. He inspired the nation and the world by walking 100 lengths of his garden to raise over £30 million (US$36 million) for U.K. National Health Service Charities.

A Shining Light In Dark Times

Hero NHS fundraiser Captain Tom Moore, the 100 year-old WWII veteran, has always been a man of action.

Entering the Second World War as a 19 year-old, he was selected for officer cadet training the next year, eventually rising to the rank of Captain. He served in India, the Burma Campaign and Sumatra during the war, and later became an instructor in armoured warfare.

After the war, Captain Tom worked as managing director of a concrete company and was an avid motorcycle racer.

His recent fame was more about action and less about speed, as he pledged to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise funds for the National Health Service Charities Together.

 

The Walk Of A Lifetime

 

On April 6, 2020 he set out with the goal of raising £1,000 by his 100th birthday on April 30. He reached his 100th lap by April 16.

By the time of his birthday, Captain Tom, by now a household name and viral online sensation, had raised £32,796,475 [US$ 39,699,319] (plus another £6,173,663.31 [US$7,475,345] expected in tax rebates under the Gift Aid scheme).

As Wikipedia details “To mark Moore’s 100th lap, the singer Michael Ball sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” for him live on BBC Breakfast.[37] Within 24 hours,[38] the performance was made into a digital single featuring the NHS Voices of Care Choir, and Moore’s spoken words.[37] Released by Decca Records,[39] on 17 April, with all proceeds going to NHS Charities Together, the recording topped the United Kingdom’s “The Official Big Top 40” chart. It sold almost 36,000 copies in its first 48 hours,[40] and was “biggest trending song” as measured by the Official Charts Company.[39] On 24 April, it went straight to No. 1 in the weekly “Official” UK Singles Chart, making Moore the oldest person to achieve that position and meaning that he was at No. 1 on his 100th birthday,[41] and became a one-hit wonder.

Moore’s bid to reach No. 1 was boosted when his leading competitor, the then-current No. 1, The Weeknd, used Twitter to ask people to support Moore and make him No. 1 for his 100th birthday.[42][43] The Weeknd’s song, “Blinding Lights“, duly dropped to No. 2.[41]”

Captain Tom has broken two Guinness World Records:  the most money raised by an individual charity walk ever, and the oldest person to reach number one in the UK charts.

On learning of his new record title, Captain Tom said: “I am so thankful to those who have donated money and bought the single so we could achieve these records together and raise money for our incredible NHS during these difficult times.” The previous record for the most money raised by a charity walk had stood for 40 years.

Funds raised by Captain Tom are being spent on such things as well-being packs for National Health Service staff facilitating rest and recuperation rooms, devices to enable hospital patients to keep in contact with family members, and community groups who support patients once discharged from hospitals. Once his campaign ended, Moore encouraged people to continue to donate, directly to the NHS Charities Together’s urgent appeal.

 

A Petition For A Knighthood

 

In the wake of his selfless achievements, to date, over 1 million people have signed a petition calling for Captain Tom to receive a knighthood.

UPDATE: Arise Captain Sir Thomas Moore !

The Change.org petition has succeeded. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that Captain Tom will be honored with a knighthood for his charitable efforts. You can watch his humble, as always, response in the first video below.

He’s been made an Honorary Colonel, trains, buses, a Fire and Rescue power boat, a police dog puppy and even a Clydesdale horse have been named after him.

We’ve curated videos below of the charity song Captain Tom participated in with West End and Broadway legend Michael Ball, and an excerpt from an iTV documentary on Captain Tom’s service during the Second World War.

We’re honored to pay tribute to Captain Tom, in our own humble way, by naming him an “Abled Icon” for being such an inspiration across generations and countries around the world as “a shining light in dark times”.

 

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ABLED® ICON DOLLY PARTON

Dolly Parton: The Book Lady

Abled.People: Photo of music icon Dolly Parton wearing reading glasses and holding the book "The Little Engine That Could".

That’s the name most youngsters know beloved music legend Dolly Parton by, and she’s hoping to provide comfort every Thursday in the midst of fear and chaos by reading bedtime stories to children from her series at Dolly’s Imagination Library.

Dolly's Heart Of Gold

Music legend Dollar Parton is hoping to provide “comfort and reassurance to coping kids and families during the shelter-in-place mandates” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How? By launching a weekly series in which she reads a children’s book to an online audience at bedtime.

 

The Book Lady

 

Goodnight With Dolly” began streaming on youTube and elsewhere Thursday, April 2 at 7pm EDT, and will continue every Thursday at the same time on  the YouTube channel . The musician and philanthropist, known better as “the Book Lady” to most youngsters, will be reading books from her Imagination Library project, and the first book in the series is The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper.

The Dolly Parton Foundation’s Imagination Library has delivered more than 130 million free books to children since it began in Tennessee in 1995, earning special recognition from the Library of Congress.

Dolly has also pledged $1 million dollars to coronavirus research being done at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. That’s the same amount she gifted to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in gratitude for the cancer care her niece received there over two decades ago.

 

Mountain Tough

 

That same year, Dolly came to the rescue of families after wildfires ravaged parts of her home town of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Tennessee by setting up the “My People Fund” and donating $1,000 a month for the next 5 months to each family who had lost a primary residence in the fire. When she arrived to deliver on her promise she surprised the families with a bonus $5,000 each for a total of $10,000 to each family.

She also created the “Mountain Tough” organization to provide ongoing support for the fire victims over the next three years and pledged to fund it with $3 million dollars.

Said Dolly in her usual self-deprecating way, “It makes me feel humble. I don’t put myself on any kind of pedestal for doing this because it’s the right thing to do. I’m a Smoky Mountain girl, and I’ve been blessed in my life to become a celebrity. And when you’re in a position to help, you should help.”

Dolly, you make us all grateful to have you in our lives! And we are honored to pay tribute to you, in our own humble way, by naming you an “Abled® Icon“.

 

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ABLED® ICON DANIEL KISH

Daniel Kish: A Visionary Visioneer

Abled.People: Photo of Daniel Kish speaking at the global TED Conference. He is standing on a round carpet on stage with the red TED logo lit-up behind him. He is holding a full-length Perception Cane.

Daniel Kish is sometimes called “the real life Bat Man”, but his skills are closer to those of “Daredevil”. No matter the analogy, he is a real-life Visioneer who’s been teaching blind people all around the world to see in a new way using SonarVision for over 20 years.

The Blind Leading The Blind

Daniel Kish has been shattering misperceptions about blind people for over five decades.

He’s left biblical and Buddhist parables about “the blind leading the blind” in his dust as the wheels of his mountain bike tear down a dirt trail, followed by other blind riders.

A vision quest of a unique kind

Daniel lost both eyes to retinal cancer by the time he was 13 month-old. But that’s never stopped him from exploring the world around him, whether walking on a glacier in Iceland, or climbing tree tops as a child, inspired by the tale of “Jack and the Beanstalk” to see if he could reach a star and pull it from where he thought it might be hanging.

For the past 20 years, he’s shared that sense of adventure with tens of thousands of blind people and blindness professionals around the world, after achieving two Masters degrees (in Special Education and Psychology [Developmental]), and becoming the first blind person to achieve both national certifications to teach orientation and mobility to other  blind people. (As he dryly puts it sometimes, “teaching other blind people how to be blind.”)

World Access For The Blind was registered in California as a 501(c)3 in 2000, and in the intervening years, some of his former students have also achieved Master’s Degrees and become instructors in the non-profit’s global outreach and marketing division called Visioneers.

Along the way, they’ve all become  media celebrities by appearing in countless local news stories and documentary features on most of the major cable networks in the world with Daniel picking up the nickname “the Real Life Batman”, although more recently he’s been compared to Marvel’s Daredevil.

Daniel’s international profile led him to be invited to speak at the global TED conference and regional TEDx events around the world. His non-profit was recognized as an Innovative Practice by the global Zero Project, and Daniel was named an Ashoka Fellow, as a global ‘change maker’.

What’s all the fuss about?

The blind leading the blind to see in a new way

Over the years, Daniel has refined an intuitive human instinct to make clicking sounds with his tongue to send out sound waves that reflect off the environment around him. He called it FlashSonar because the clicks are like flashes of light that illuminate a person’s surroundings in the dark. Some call it click sonar.

Shared research projects in later years would fit the pieces of the puzzle together as to how a blind person could ‘see’ in a new way by doing this.

MRI imaging showed the clicks activate the Visual Cortex – lighting-up the part of the brain normally involved in processing sight that people presume goes dormant in a blind person. Senior instructor Visioneer Brian Bushway, himself blind from the age of 14, calls it a “fuzzy geometry that creates something of a spatial map in the mind of a blind person.

Daniel developed a teaching methodology that that combines the click sonar with longer ‘white canes’ – he calls them “full-length Perceptual Canes” – and trains the brain to rewire over time to adapt and develop an acuity that they call “SonarVision”.

The broader goal is to teach blind people to achieve greater perceptual freedom of movement and independence and to further shatter the misperceptions of disability and reduced expectations that have been handed down from generation to generation.

For all these extraordinary achievements, and especially for the improvements in the quality of life that he and his colleagues have helped other blind people achieve, we are proud to name Daniel Kish an “Abled® Icon“.

You can read more about Daniel , his colleagues and students, and the science of SonarVision and donate to help his non-profit survive the disastrous COVID-19 repercussions at Visioneers.org

 

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The elderly are most at risk from Coronavirus. But children are affected too. What parents should know. Public service announcement for Unicef USA over a photo of a child washing hands with soap and water. Link to Unicef site.

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Advocate: Matthew Foster

Abled.People: Photos of disability advocate Matthew Foster holding a sign that reads :I am ventilator worthy! I want the right to live", and a second photo with his mother Susan Ellis.

The Alabama resident, along with his mother Susan Ellis, have advocated for better COVID-19 protection and priority for people with disabilities requiring treatment.

Ventilator Worthy

Alabama resident Matthew Foster, 19, has Down syndrome and worries he could be last in line for a ventilator if he gets severe COVID-19 infection.

He, along with his mother Susan Ellis,  is advocating against the half of states that have what are seen as discriminatory policies, including “do not resuscitate” policies, for patients with certain disabilities.

 

A Life Or Death Issue

 

Alabama’s Emergency Operations Plan , is one subject of a complaint, and focuses on managing access to ventilators during an event that the governor deems a public health crisis.

The protocol lists several health conditions for which providers should “not offer mechanical ventilator support,” including heart failure, respiratory failure and metastatic cancer. It also says “persons with severe mental retardation, advanced dementia or severe traumatic brain injury may be poor candidates for ventilator support.”

complaint by the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and The ARC of the United States claims this policy discriminates against people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities in violation of federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.

James Tucker, director of the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, said in a press release, “In this time of crisis, we cannot devalue the lives of others in our community based on their disabilities. It’s morally wrong, and it violates the law.”

Health officials say the trigger for rationing care, or invoking what are known as “crisis standards,” will be when there are more COVID-19 patients than ventilators.

The Center for Public Integrity has taken an in-depth look at these issues, published in partnership with the Daily Beast.

Reporter Liz Essley Whyte points out that “policies in 25 states would ration care in ways disability advocates have denounced. The remaining 20 states either have not established rationing policies or did not release them.

Doctors and medical ethics experts say these states need to have policies in place now, before coronavirus cases peak, and should not cloak them in secrecy.

Expecting doctors to make heart-rending decisions on who lives and who dies, experts say, runs the risk that they will lean on personal biases and stereotypes, even unwittingly.”

 

Matthew Foster – A Leader And Advocate

 

Matthew Foster is a credible voice in this advocacy. An employee of Chuck E. Cheese since 2000, Matthew serves on the Board of Down Syndrome Alabama, the Alabama Disability Advocacy Program advisory council, and on the leadership board of People First of Alabama.

In 2016, Matthew was invited to Washington DC by the U.S. Department of Labor. He was one of four adults with disabilities to have his story shared in the “No Boundaries” photo project. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate career successes of people with disabilities. 

In July, 2017, he was featured as part of a Seattle Times report bylined “Life-changing services at risk for millions if Medicaid is cut“.

Matthews’s voice and other’s have been heard.

The State of Alabama has withdrawn its ventilator rationing policy and is instructing hospitals that they cannot discriminate against people with disabilities in accessing treatment. 

We’ve curated a report in the Video section below from Chad Petri of  WKRG News 5, the CBS affiliate in Mobile, Alabama on the state’s turnaround.

 

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Actor: Nick Cordero

Abled.People: Instagram selfie of Broadway actor Nick Cordero and his wife, fitness instructor Amanda Kloots.

Broadway actor Nick Cordero is proving to be an incredible survivor of COVID-19. He’s emerged from a medically-induced coma, but he’s not entirely “out of the woods” yet.

Out Of Coma

The family of “Bullets Over Broadway” star Nick Cordero got some great news, as communicated on social media by his wife, online fitness instructor Amanda Kloots: he’s come out of a medically-induced coma.

Cordero had to have a leg amputated several weeks ago after complications from COVID-19 infection turned serious.

The native of Hamilton, Ontario is still on a ventilator. His wife explained, “We are still concerned about a couple of things: he still has a lot of infection in his lungs that they are clearing out every single da. It is a lot that is still in his lungs and due to the damage of his lungs.”

Kloots said that the “big goals for Cordero would be to move him off dialysis and move him off ventilators.” She said that while those are ‘long-term’ goals, the idea “that the doctor witnessed him trying to follow commands marks the best news ever.”

Meantime, Broadway stages will remain dark at least through Labor Day. The additional three-month closure announced by the Broadway League on Tuesday is the longest extension yet for Broadway’s 41 houses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Veteran: Bill Lapschies

Abled.People: Photo of 104 year-old Bill Lapschies wearing a surgical mask and wearing a WW II Veteran cap while sitting in a wheelchair outside a Veteran's home in Lebanon, Oregon.

At 104, WWII veteran Bill Lapschies became the oldest known survivor of COVID-19. He was one of the first two residents of a Veteran’s home to test positive.

Oldest C19 Survivor

Bill Lapschies has survived a few things in his lifetime, like the Spanish Flu of 1918 and World War II.

He now has the distinction, at 104 years of age, of being the oldest known survivor of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The war veteran was one of the first two residents of the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, Oregon to test positive for the new coronavirus infection.

He has since recovered. The other man, in his 90s, did not and has since died.

The virus spread among 16 people at the home to date. Of those, two died, two are in serious condition, three are stable and eight have recovered.

Born in Salem, Oregon in 1916, Mr. Lapschies was put into isolation with other residents who were suspected of developing symptoms. His were relatively mild, and he never developed respiratory problems.

On April 1, family and friends gathered to celebrate his 104th birthday.

The veteran is among a growing list of centenarian survivors of the new coronavirus – including a 103 year-old woman in China, a 103 year-old woman in Iran, and a 102 year-old woman in Italy.

 

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CURATED VIDEOS

Alabama Listens

The voice of Matthew Foster, profiled above, and other’s have been heard.

The State of Alabama has withdrawn its ventilator rationing policy and is instructing hospitals that they cannot discriminate against people with disabilities in accessing treatment. 

This report from Chad Petri of  WKRG News 5, the CBS affiliate in Mobile, Alabama on the state’s turnaround.

 

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5th Grade Tributes

Some of the most honest and heartfelt tributes to frontline responders has come from school students, like the 5th graders at Madison Country Day School in Wisconsin which has an enrollment  of about 450 students in PreK through Grade 12.

These expressions came from students in the Middle School Division.

For the benefit of blind and low vision visitors, we’ll describe the opening text here: “Thank You – From the bottom of our Hearts! Thank you for serving on the frontlines of this pandemic. Doctors, Nurses, Physicians, Cafeteria Workers, Respiratory therapists, and Housekeepers are the heart and soul of the war against CoVid-19. Madison Country Day School 5th Grade.”

The video ends with  the text: “You Are Our Nation’s Guiding Light.”

You can visit Madison Country Day School’s YouTube Channel.

 

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Tribute From A Prince

Prince Harry has spoken from his new home in Los Angeles about the “very best of the human spirit” on show as Britain responds to the coronavirus crisis.

Harry also praised the “utterly amazing” Captain Tom – the 99-year-old who walked 100 lengths of his garden to raise millions for NHS charities by his 100th birthday.

The Duke of Sussex, who officially stopped being a working member of the Royal Family at the end of March, joined a podcast for military veterans and urged as many former military personnel as possible to volunteer to support frontline workers.

This video is from iTV News.http://www.itv.com/news

 

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