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COVID-19 Information & Resources

COVID-19 Risk for People With Intellectual Disabilities

Why Inclusive Health Matters More Than Ever

People with intellectual disabilities are considered a high-risk group for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 6.5 million people in the U.S. have intellectual disabilities.

Lack of Access to Healthcare Is the Greatest Threat
The most important risk for people with ID is not their underlying health conditions, but their lack of access to healthcare. In addition, more than 80% of healthcare providers are not trained to treat people with intellectual disabilities.

Despite severe need and higher health risks, people with intellectual disabilities lack equitable access to health services and die, on average, 16 years earlier than the general population.

People With Intellectual Disabilities Have Underlying Health Conditions
Higher rates of chronic health conditions put people with intellectual disabilities at a higher risk of serious illness and poorer outcomes from COVID-19. For example, people with Down syndrome can have compromised immune systems and smaller airways, which make them more susceptible to respiratory illnesses.

Adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities. Those who have existing medical conditions, including breathing problems, are also at increased risk for COVID-19.

Dental exam at Healthy Athletes screening during the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi.
Dental exam at Healthy Athletes screening during the 2019 World Games in Abu Dhabi.

COVID-19 Resources for Healthcare Providers, Athletes, Parents, and Caregivers
We have armed our athletes with information on how to protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19. We have equipped athletes and families with at-home resources, including fitness videos and stress-reduction challenges to help them stay active. Here are some of our most popular COVID-19 resources to help our community stay informed and healthy.

Special Olympics Health is supported by cooperative agreement #NU27DD001156 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contents of this page are the responsibility of Special Olympics and do not necessarily represent the views of CDC.


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