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Professor offends disabled people with covid comment

Rochelle Walensky
Rochelle Walensky Image credit: thehill.com

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, has received a number of complaints after she commented on the number of disabled people who have died from the Omicron variant.

During an interview with Good Morning America on Saturday Ms Walensky said: “The overwhelming number of deaths, over 75 per cent, occurred in people who had at least four comorbidities.

“So really these are people who were unwell to begin with and yes, really encouraging news in the context of Omicron.”

Her statement was criticised by viewers who perceived her views as overlooking the severity Covid-19 has had on people with disabilities.

What caused the backlash from campaigners was Walensky’s use of the word ‘encouraging’ and indicating disabled people are ‘unwell’ triggered a string of posts on Twitter under the hashtag #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy by those who took offence.

One person wrote: “Saying that people who die of Omicron are ‘unwell already’ implies that they are close to death anyway, or that their ‘unwell’ lives aren’t worth protecting.

“Neither are true, CDC Director. It’s devastating that we have to remind you that #MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy.”

Another post read: “Folks have pushed the narrative of vulnerable people’s lives being disposable for this entire pandemic (and before)

“To see CDC Director finding our deaths ‘encouraging’ because they are less valuable to you all than economical stimulation is so so appalling”.

A third person took a swipe at Walensky tweeting: “I’m immunocompromised. I take immunosuppressive drugs for my autoimmune disease. I can no longer do things I used to.”

”Even double vaxxed and boosted, Covid could further disable or kill me, and that is *not* acceptable for me or anyone else.”

Comedian Walter Kamau Bell joined the conversation posting “I can let my family know that if I die from COVID it is ‘encouraging’” under the “MyDisabledLifeIsWorthy’ hashtag.

Rochelle Walensky’s email address is