LSA-DN Weekly Update

Disability Network News
Friday, March 12, 2021


Annual Membership Meeting & Award Ceremony

Lutheran Services in America will hold its Annual Membership Meeting and a NEW awards ceremony on March 24 from 3-3:45 p.m. EDT. Member CEOs will cast votes for two member CEOs for the Lutheran Services in America Board of Directors and approve the FY 2022 budget and dues schedule.

Winners of the first Lutheran Services in America annual awards will be announced at the Annual Membership Meeting:

  • The Innovator Award recognizes a member organization that is pioneering new solutions, technology or business practices to solve complex issues. This member is forward-thinking and extending beyond its own mission to strengthen the Lutheran social ministry network across the country. Ultimately, their breakthrough solutions are designed to lift up the nation’s most vulnerable people and help ensure that all Americans can live abundant lives.
  • The Micah Award recognizes a member organization that is leading the way in its work in addressing justice, mercy and equity. This member’s leadership in race equity, inclusion and diversity is truly inspirational and best exemplifies the spirit of Micah 6:8, “Act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

Register here to attend and to submit your award entries for your own organization or a peer Lutheran social ministry organization by completing a short Nomination Form by March 12, 2021.

Strength & Service Series

Mar. 25: 1-2pm EDT – COVID-19 and Poverty in the US

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought renewed attention to vast income disparities that exist in our country. Health and human service organizations across the U.S. are seeing increased demand for services as they care for vulnerable populations reeling from the spread of the virus and economic crisis. Please join us for this presentation from The University of Notre Dame Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO), who will share results from their groundbreaking study assessing the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in the U.S. and how they can support your programs to address poverty at the local level. Register here.

Apr. 16: 1-2pm EDT – Understanding the Impact of Systemic Racism on Black Families

We know children thrive when they are raised in loving, stable families. Yet throughout American history there have been many forces that have actively destabilized black and brown families. Slavery, mass incarceration, the school to prison pipeline, and poverty are some of the many examples of policies and practices that have actively separated children from their families. Please join us for this captivating, original presentation by Dr. Harry Singleton, theologian, author, and one of the most passionate and informed voices on race and religion in America as he elevates the historical and cyclical impact that systemic racism has on children, families, and communities of color, and the considerations we as faith-based organizations must make if we are to disrupt its cycle. Register here.

Free Online Consumer CV19 CheckUp

CV19 CheckUp is an online system developed to help Americans be safer, healthier, and ensure their individual needs are met during the pandemic. CV19 CheckUp asks users to complete an easy, quick, confidential questionnaire. A personalized report is immediately provided, outlining the user’s level of risk and offering recommendations and resources to reduce those risks. CV19 CheckUp employs artificial intelligence and data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Share it with your consumers and residents at

Our COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub

Lutheran Services in America network in peer guidance & resources on developing COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Communication plans for your organizations.    Lutheran Services in America has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Resources Hub, which we are continuously updating, to assist with vaccine distribution and communications plans of our member organizations. Check out these latest resources including:

If you have any resources or strategies your organization would recommend to increase access and reduce barriers to the COVID-19 Vaccine, please share with with us at

Paycheck Protection Program Continues in 2021 with New Application Forms and Revised Eligibility Criteria

On Monday, January 11, the Small Business Administration (SBA) reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal for new loans available under the terms of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020.  Loan applications will be accepted until March 31, 2021.

Community financial institutions, which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries, are now processing applications for entities seeking their first PPP loans (“first draw” loans), and second round loans (“second draw” loans) for entities that have already received and used up initial PPP loans.  Other eligible lenders and borrowers will be able to process and apply for loans shortly. 

First draw loans continue to be available only to entities with 500 or fewer employees, while second draw loans are available only to employers with 300 or fewer employees who can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020, among other criteria. 

For more information on this and other funding opportunities, please consult our continually updated webpage on federal relief funding. 

Honoring Our Front Line Heroes

Lutheran Services in America is proud to honor the incredibly brave front line workers serving during this historic time in our national network. We proudly offer digital booklets to recognize this extraordinary work with our Front Line Heroes series. Our Summer and Fall 2020 issues highlight the courageous efforts of our members dating back to March, as part of a continuing campaign to lift up the impact our members are making on their communities across the country. You can find these issues and an overview video on our new Front Line Heroes page. Please feel free to share these resources on your own social media pages, and to email Chris Findlay ( with stories from your organization you would like to see included in our upcoming issues.

Advocacy Update

President Biden signs the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package into law.  The House of Representatives swiftly acted this week to pass the next COVID relief package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, on a mostly party-line vote, sending it to President Biden, who signed the measure yesterday.

The legislation narrowly expands the Paycheck Protection Program to allow organizations with more than 500 employees to be eligible for PPP as long as employees are spread across multiple locations with no single location having more than 500 employees. Self-funded unemployment reimbursement has been increased from 50 to 75 percent through September 6.  The Senate upped dedicated funding for Home and Community-Based Services through a 10% FMAP boost (up from 7.35% in the earlier measure) for states that engage to enhance the services, and the House approved this increase in its final vote.  In addition, the bill includes an extension of temporary unemployment benefits and enhanced weekly benefits.  The House version included a phased increase of the minimum wage, but this provision was removed during Senate consideration and was not included in the final law.  More information on the package can be found here in a detailed summary.

Meanwhile, the Senate health committees have completed their consideration of President Biden's choice of Xavier Becerra to be the next Health and Human Services Secretary. The Senate has scheduled procedural votes to forward his nomination for next week.

Thank you for urging lawmakers to retain the elements of this package that help nonprofit front line providers.  Your efforts made a difference!

Coronavirus Resources

Lutheran Services in America has compiled a list of COVID-19 news and resources that is regularly updated. In particular, we are tracking philanthropic and federal funding opportunities and requirements for our members and compiling a list of upcoming webinars, meetings, and events. Be sure to check out these pages and feel free to reach out to or with any related questions you have.


Congress Clears $1.9 Trillion Aid Bill, Sending It to Biden

Congress gave final approval on Wednesday to President Biden’s sweeping, nearly $1.9 trillion stimulus package, as Democrats acted over unified Republican opposition to push through an emergency pandemic aid plan that carries out a vast expansion of the country’s social safety net.

By a vote of 220 to 211, the House sent the measure to Mr. Biden for his signature, cementing one of the largest injections of federal aid since the Great Depression. It would provide another round of direct payments for Americans, an extension of federal jobless benefits and billions of dollars to distribute coronavirus vaccines and provide relief for schools, states, tribal governments and small businesses struggling during the pandemic.

“This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation — the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going — a fighting chance,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. He said he looked forward to signing what he called a “historic piece of legislation” on Friday at the White House.

The vote capped off a swift push by Mr. Biden and Democrats, newly in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, to address the toll of the coronavirus pandemic and begin putting in place their broader economic agenda. The bill is estimated to slash poverty by a third this year and potentially cut child poverty in half, with expansions of tax credits, food aid and rental and mortgage assistance.

More from The New York Times

Biden Signs Stimulus Bill Sending Funds To Disability Community

President Joe Biden signed a massive pandemic relief package sending billions to special education and home- and community-based services and providing stimulus payments for many with disabilities who haven’t previously qualified.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed Thursday provides the first major investment since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago in the hard-hit disability services system.

The legislation includes $12.67 billion for Medicaid home- and community-based services over the next year. The funding will go to states in the form of a 10% rise in the federal government’s share of spending on the program starting in April and extending through March 2022.

More from Disability Scoop

ADA Concerns Raised Over COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Federal authorities are being asked to step in amid concerns that sensory sensitivities, physical access and other barriers may be keeping people with disabilities from receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

A group of 13 U.S. senators sent a letter early this month to top officials at the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights asking them to ensure that each state’s process for distributing vaccines is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

“In order to make sure that everyone in the United States is able to access these vaccines, we must attend to sectors of the population that have access needs, in particular individuals with disabilities who may need accommodations to access vaccination sites and register for an appointment,” reads the correspondence from Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and a dozen of her colleagues. “In particular, we ask that you determine that registration websites, vaccination sites and vaccine information have four types of access: physical, sensory, cognitive and technological.”

More from Disability Scoop

One Year Into the Pandemic, the White House Aims to Prioritize People With Disabilities

One year ago, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Since then, 29 million Americans have been infected and more than 500,000 have died. a year after schools nationwide shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic, some members of Congress are calling for an investigation into the impact of the closures on students with disabilities.

With spring on the horizon, more Americans getting vaccinated every day, and President Joe Biden laying out an optimistic timeline in an address Thursday night, the country feels as if it is turning a corner. But in many ways, the pandemic recovery is just beginning. The first 50 days of Biden’s presidency have largely been focused on helping Americans who have suffered during the pandemic, including by passing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. But in a historic first, the White House has also named a disability policy director to sit on its Domestic Policy Council and ensure the government is prioritizing Americans with disabilities—including those with lingering disabilities caused by COVID-19. “We have a lot of people that are going to be starting to identify as people with disabilities in light of COVID,” Kimberly Knackstedt, the new disability policy director, tells TIME on March 11 in her first interview since joining the White House. More from TIME


Minnesota expands COVID vaccine eligibility ahead of schedule

Minnesota is opening up vaccine eligibility to include 1.8 million more people, including those with underlying conditions and essential workers, Gov. Tim Walz announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The expansion, effective Wednesday, comes as the state hits its goal of vaccinating 70% of seniors weeks ahead of schedule.

  • The next waves include Minnesotans with certain health conditions or disabilities that make them more vulnerable to serious disease and "essential frontline workers" at food processing plants, grocery stores, restaurants, public transit and farms.
  • Providers will be instructed to prioritize food processing plant workers and people with the most serious health conditions.
  • The state's vaccine connector will alert citizens of available appointments when eligible.

More from Axios

People With High-Risk Disabilities Feel Left Out By California's Vaccine System

On a blustery day in Los Angeles, Mimi Newman unlocks her front door to take the dogs outside. For Newman, "outside" is a relative term — she's been in strict quarantine since March 6, 2020. She's only gone past her front gate three times.

Newman is severely immunocompromised. To a small degree, her medical history prepared her for the pandemic.

"I have had periods of my life — years and years and years — where I had to be either in bed the whole time, or just not able to leave the house 'cause I had been so sick," she says. "But it's so different when anyone that could walk through the door could essentially kill you with their breath."

So for the past year she's been nannying a 9-year-old over Zoom, supervising cake baking and attending Morning Sing from bed. "We have done sewing. We have done making paper flowers out of tissue paper. You name it, I've crafted it," she says. "I even bedazzle." More from NPR

Cuomo admin ordered homes for disabled to accept coronavirus patients & never reversed it

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration ordered homes for people with developmental disabilities to accept coronavirus patients — and never rescinded the order. 

The April 10 directive, which mirrored the Cuomo administration's controversial order to nursing homes, also told homes for people with developmental disabilities that they could not require hospitalized residents to be tested for coronavirus prior to admission or readmission.

Five hundred fifty-two residents at homes for people with developmental disabilities have died of coronavirus, the New York Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) told Fox News on Monday.

More from Fox News

Research & Reports

Intellectual Disability Among Greatest COVID-19 Risk Factors, Study Finds

New research suggests that people with intellectual disability are about six times more likely to die if they contract COVID-19, a higher risk than almost anyone else.

A review of 64 million medical records from individuals seen by 547 health care organizations across the U.S. between January 2019 and November 2020 finds that intellectual disability is the greatest risk factor — other than old age — associated with COVID-19 deaths.

“The chances of dying from COVID-19 are higher for those with intellectual disability than they are for people with congestive heart failure, kidney disease or lung disease,” said Jonathan Gleason, chief quality officer at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia and the lead author of the study published this month in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst.

More from Disability Scoop

Resources, Opinions & Opportunities

Intellectual disability is the top unspoken risk factor for COVID-19. So why is it not prioritized for vaccine? | Opinion

Imagine: Your family is a happy one. Your adult child lives with you. She is content and industrious. She has therapy three days a week and has started a small business making and selling dog biscuits with some of her peers in one of her therapeutic groups. Like everyone else, you are concerned about COVID-19. You are older but not in the age where vaccination is currently eligible. Some of your daughter’s therapists still come to the house. They also go to the houses of other clients. Every day you worry what will happen if you get exposed and sick from COVID-19, not just for your own sake, but for hers. You also worry about her getting sick.

And you should. Your daughter has no comorbidities — no diabetes, obesity or heart disease — that make her eligible for a vaccine, but she has an intellectual disability. Based on research published this month, it turns out that is one of the highest unspoken risk factors for getting and dying from COVID-19.

More from The Philadelphia Inquirer

Upcoming Events

LSA-DN 2021 Spring Meeting (virtual)
April 8, 2021
1:00-3:30 p.m. Eastern


For more information on our topic specific work groups, please email Doug Walter at

  • Policy & Advocacy Team
  • Culture and Engagement Workgroup
  • Administrative Cost Survey Working Group

Keep in Touch

Lisa Morgan
DN Convener
Chief Operating Officer, enCircle

Myra Griffie
Interim DN Treasurer
Chief Operating Officer, Lutheran Services Carolinas

Doug Walter
Director of Policy and Advocacy, Disability Network, Lutheran Services in America