PRESS RELEASE: Disability Rights Maine Supports the Executive Order Strengthening Face Covering Requirements



November 23, 2020

Disability Rights Maine Supports the Executive Order
Strengthening Face Covering Requirements

Augusta, Maine – As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Maine, the need for individuals to wear face coverings for the health and safety of all, has taken on greater importance. Disability Rights Maine (DRM) has learned that some individuals are aggressively ignoring face covering requirements and asserting, potentially falsely, that they have a disability as a justification.

“We at Disability Rights Maine represent thousands of people with disabilities”, said Kim Moody, Executive Director, “and we know that the vast majority of Maine people with disabilities wear face coverings when in the community because it is safer and it is smart. And we want others to do the same, because many of us have compromised immune systems or are otherwise in high-risk categories.”

We know that face coverings have been shown to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We know that by wearing face coverings, we are taking steps to protect our own health and the health of those around us by reducing the risk of community transmission.

“We reject recent attempts to misappropriate our identities and misuse important and hard-fought civil rights protections as a form of misguided civil disobedience,” said Moody. Mainers with disabilities know that we are all in this together.

While it is true that some people with disabilities will be unable to wear a face covering due to disability, that does not mean that generally applicable face covering requirements must be waived or ignored. Disability Rights Maine strongly supports the Executive Order and we hope everyone will just wear a mask.

Most businesses are aware of the need to consider reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities that truly prevent them from being able to wear a mask. Employers across the state are taking measures to ensure equal access to the programs, goods, and services they offer, keeping in mind that facemasks are an additional barrier to effective communication for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. It is important businesses understand that taking steps to ensure full and equal access to people with disabilities is in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Maine businesses take very seriously their role in following recommended precautions and protocols, especially with the recent rise in COVID-19 cases,” said Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors. “Protecting the health of Maine people and our state’s workforce also protects Maine’s economic health. The business community understands extra measures need to be taken to accommodate people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis. Each of us needs to keep in mind the added and unique challenges the pandemic has presented for many with disabilities, and that no one ever should take advantage of the protections they are afforded, including during this time when public health and Maine’s economic recovery are paramount.”