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The Americans with Disabilities Act turns 30 and shows how far we still need to go

July 27, 2020, 7:54 PM UTC

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Happy Monday, readers. I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of President George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. It was a watershed moment—legislation that stood at the nexus of civil rights and health care by requiring accommodations for disabled people.

It didn’t come easy. Disability rights groups banded together to shine light on a long-festering injustice, a system where people with everything from intellectual to physical disabilities were often ignored, dismissed, and ridiculed.

Public and private facilities had few provisions such as elevators, wheelchair ramps, or other means of assisting disabled Americans. In one searing moment during March 1990, dozens of disabled protesters left their wheelchairs to literally crawl up the steps of the nation’s Capitol, refusing to accept help as they made their way up more than 80 steps to demonstrate the indignities of the status quo and champion the ADA.

There’s no doubt that the law’s passage was a milestone victory. But three decades later, disability rights groups are still fighting for broad enforcement of the ADA and local anti-discrimination laws in some of the nation’s largest cities.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) of New York is facing a class action lawsuit over the subway system’s inability to provide elevators for those with mobility problems. Just about one in four stations in the sprawling public transport system provide stair-free access, according to the nonprofit Disability Rights Advocates.

In the job market, discrimination is still common despite the ADA and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Employers may not openly admit they’re less willing to hire someone with a physical or mental disability, but there are plenty of anecdotal accounts of people receiving more interview opportunities when they don’t mention their disability in a job application.

Under the FLSA, it’s legal to pay less than minimum wage to certain people with disabilities. Former President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2014 requiring all federal contractors, including those with disabilities, to be given a minimum wage hike after pushback on an original pay increase proposal which didn’t include them.

The ADA is an historic law. There’s clearly still a long way to go.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee
sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com
@the_sy_guy

DIGITAL HEALTH

Color receives authorization for an unmonitored COVID test. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted genomics company Color emergency authorization for its coronavirus test, which the company says can mitigate bottlenecks in the testing supply chain that have prolonged turnaround times. You can take Color's test at home or in a community health care facility and other public settings. "The process authorized by the FDA makes it possible for patients to utilize Color’s test at home and return a sample by mail, as well as on-site as part of a test collection process," said the company in a statement. "The latter makes it possible for Color’s test to be used to support onsite testing in critical public health contexts, such as community testing sites, places of employment, universities, and more."

INDICATIONS

Trump signs four executive orders on drug pricing. President Donald Trump on Friday signed a slew of executive orders aimed at lowering drug prices, including allowing for drug importation from Canada and tweaking the way that pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), the middlemen in the pharmaceutical supply chain, can negotiate discounts. It also would force Medicare to charge prices comparable to other nations—all moves that were heavily condemned by the drug industry's main lobbying group, PhRMA, in a statement slamming the orders as anti-competitive and bad for patients. It's also unclear how much patients would actually save under the orders and Trump himself seemed to indicate that they're more of a shot across the bow at a generally unpopular industry. He's slated to meet with executives this week. (NPR)

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine trial launches in the U.S. Moderna's late-stage trial for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate officially launched nationwide on Monday, the company and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced. Earlier-stage studies have suggested promise in the experimental drug's ability to create coronavirus antibodies (although the level of immunity is still unclear). This new trial will enroll 30,000 participants across 89 sites in the U.S.—and it will pit the actual vaccine against a placebo, making it a controlled trial that would offer more evidence about just how effective it is.

THE BIG PICTURE

Six types of COVID-19. We're still learning a lot about COVID, which is proving to be a truly strange disease. It manifests in all sorts of weird ways. But a new study from King's College London suggests that six distinct forms of the disease, with varying types of symptoms, are possible. These can vary from having flu-like symptoms, to having a cough (or not having a cough), fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, muscle aches, rashes, loss of smell and taste, loss of appetite, or barely any symptoms at all in multiple permutations. (CBS News)

REQUIRED READING

Herd immunity works—if you don't care how many people dieby Laurie Garrett and John Moore

SAP says goodbye to Qualtricsby Michal Lev-Ram

How to celebrate milestones while social distancingby Brooke Henderson

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