Self-Advocacy Online Blog

COVID-19: Where We Are and Where to Go from Here


Cliff Poetz is a Community Liaison with the Institute on Community Integration and a founding member of People First Minnesota.  He can be reached at


It is important for all people to be careful and follow the instructions given to you to be safe during this time. Make sure you are following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ’s guidelines to make sure we do not spread the virus. Wash your hands thoroughly and often, use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash them, stay six feet away from others when out in the community, avoid crowds, and wear a mask. Wearing a mask is not a political statement, it is a health and safety measure. Masks work to stop the spread of the virus and our health and safety should be our number one concern. Even if you don’t like it, wear it to protect both yourself and others.

Self-advocates living in group homes or assisted living should make sure to tell a nurse or staff member if they have a cold or a fever. If you are feeling sick and do not have an on staff nurse, call your doctors office for a consultation.  If you are sick, do not be around anyone. Make sure to eat good food, take your medications as prescribed, and practice good hygiene and habits to stay healthy.

An important part of stopping the spread of the virus is to physically stay away from others, even if you are not feeling sick. This can feel isolating and can cause some people to feel disconnected from their friends, family, and community. Now is a great opportunity to reach out to them through a phone call or video chat to check on them and to let them know you are ok.  Just as we are meeting remotely to continue these blog posts, self-advocates should try using these other forms of communication to stay connected and united.  Self-advocates can continue to use resources like Self-Advocacy Online , other websites, and social media to stay connected and engaged in their self-advocacy.

I urge other states to consider stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and other adaptations so the United States can work together to flatten the curve and limit the spread of the virus. State and local governments should apply this sooner rather than later and everyone should follow the measures taken for the health and safety of all. It is important for everyone to take this seriously and listen to doctors and experts like Dr. Fauci. Opening the country too soon and without the right guidelines could be a setback and compromise the health and safety of a lot of people. It is important to look at the numbers and listen to what they tell us. I think governors should be in charge of deciding what needs to be done in each state, but they need national guidelines to help them decide what to do. Now that we have a vaccine, governors and state officials have the difficult task of planning who gets it and when they get it.  This can be very straining on some local health departments. It is one thing to create a vaccine, but it is another to make sure it can be stored, used, and distributed correctly. Organizations and states need to be patient, plan ahead, and only reopen when they are sure the spread of COVID-19 has slowed down and enough people are vaccinated.  

Here is a link to what the CDC says about the COVID-19 vaccine:

Everyone has a responsibility to follow these guidelines and it is important to stay calm. Thank you to all our healthcare workers, first responders, and researchers of the virus who are working tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy during this time.  

We will get through this with patience and understanding.