Nebraska State Sen. Carol Blood is concerned people with disabilities may not be getting a fair shake in regard to getting screened for COVID-19 through the state’s recently launched TestNebraska program.

The initiative, launched in April, is a partnership with state leaders and private corporations. The goal, according to information on TestNebraska’s website, is to dramatically increase the rate of COVID-19 testing so Nebraskan’s have better access to testing to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in an effort to reopen the state fully as soon as possible.

Since its launch, thousands of Nebraskans have been tested for COVID-19 at numerous pop-up drive-thru locations around the state. The goal, Ricketts’ office said when the initiative launched, was to test up to 3,000 people daily when TestNebraska was fully operational.

On May 19, information provided by the District 3 representative’s office states Blood forwarded a request for information through an email to Gov. Pete Ricketts’ office in reference to TestNebraska and its ability to adequately serve people with disabilities.

The email, provided by Blood’s office, questions why disabled individuals and those facing other potential hurdles were not considered when the program was rolled out.

“After discussing the issue with members of our disability rights community, I decided to shore up my concerns with some research,” Blood said in an emailed statement. “It appears the website was not designed to be accessible and when asked if there was perhaps an alternative site, I was told to call a phone number for assistance.

“After being on hold for an hour, I finally disengaged because it was obvious that the number given was a catch-all for those who could not be served by the site and not a phone number providing appropriate accommodations to those with disabilities.”

Blood, in her email, goes on to state that just over 20% of Nebraska’s adult population is identified as having some type of disability. Blood said, in her email, that she believes it’s unfathomable that something as important as the TestNebraska initiative was not ready to serve that demographic.

“If the process that is being utilized right now is indeed the answer to serving this population, it is obvious that those who serve people with disabilities locally and/or Nebraska’s medical community should have been involved prior to the launch of this program. It seems concerning that this issue has yet to be identified and corrected,” Blood said.

“It is my hope that Gov. Ricketts will respond with information that expresses how Nebraska residents with disabilities may receive the same opportunities for testing as those without disabilities. We can do better in our state and need to show that all lives have value in Nebraska and deserve the opportunity to be tested without creating additional hurdles.”

For additional information, those with questions are encouraged to contact Blood at 402-517-1446 or cblood@leg.ne.gov.

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