Reflectivity: Intersection of Autism & COVID-19
Updated: Mar 8
By Melissa Lushington, "Don't Cut Corners...Unless It's Cake" Blog Series - Slice #15
It is hard to believe that it has been a year already since COVID-19 dropped into our lives like a bombshell. As an autistic community, this pandemic has especially been hard for many of us to change our schedules and readjust our daily lives in order to make ends meet and get through the challenges that came before us, but we were able to not only stay healthy and safe we were also able to thrive and achieve our goals even though they were not easy processes. I am also happy to say that after living for one year of this pandemic nightmare, America has reached an incredible milestone by having vaccines made for COVID-19 that are being distributed to many individuals right now as we speak. For example, in January, my mom got vaccinated at her workplace for COVID-19 and she also got vaccinated again in early February. However, just because we have the availability and distributions of vaccines does not mean we are out of the woods. In fact, due to these two factors, we still have some good miles to go.
First, we must acknowledge the fact that although cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 have gone down dramatically, there are COVID-19 Variants that have been emerging rapidly. According to an article titled About Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19 written on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, “Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist.” In this case, multiple variants that cause COVID-19 have been documented in the U.S. and the global world during this pandemic. Another thing that the CDC website wants you to be informed of is variants. “These variants seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants, which may lead to more cases of COVID-19. An increase in the number of cases will put more strain on health care resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.” Like last year when the world was getting to know COVID-19 itself, scientists today are still learning and getting to know more new information about the COVID-19 variants in terms of whether they spread more easily from person to person, how widely these new variants have spread, how the variants may affect existing therapies, vaccines, and tests, whether the variants cause milder and more severe disease in people and more. We must also acknowledge that due to the multiple snowstorms that have taken place throughout the states across America, there will be a delay in vaccine distribution for COVID-19. According to a CNBC article titled Winter storm has delayed shipments of 6 million Covid vaccine doses across the U.S., health officials say it states, “Massive winter storms across the Midwest and Texas have delayed the delivery of 6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses across the U.S., top U.S. health officials said Friday.” In the same article, it is stated and supported by White House Senior Advisor for COVID response Andy Slavitt that the vaccine delay is because of cold weather conditions when it states, “Because of strict cold-chain requirements for storing the doses at ultra-cold temperatures, it’s better to hold back the shipments than to send them to places where the shots might expire if they can’t be administered within three days. He said the vaccines are “sitting safe and sound in our factories and hubs ready to be shipped.” The article also mentions the white house’s strategy to solve this dilemma when it states, “As weather conditions improve, we are already looking to clear this backlog,” Slavitt said, adding that 1.4 million doses are being shipped on Friday. He said the administration anticipates “all the backlog doses will be delivered in the next week.”
In conclusion, when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have come a long way but still have a long way to go. To those on the autism spectrum as well as those who are associated with someone on the spectrum, I would like to commend you on showing your strength and resilience throughout this pandemic journey. I applaud you for being able to adjust yourselves and your daily routines to fit in with the pandemic circumstances, and with everything going on currently regarding school, employment, and everything else, I want you to know that I am proud of you for being able to navigate through school and other daily essentials despite the challenges that came along with it. We are going to get through this tunnel and find the light at the end of darkness, so I encourage you all to continue being strong, not just physically but more importantly mentally as well, and remember that we are all in this together.