Updated Jul 29, 2018

Disability advocates push back on plastic straw bans

Plastic waste left by tourists on a beach near Athens, Greece. Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

Banning single-use plastic straws is often seen as a quick fix to reduce waste, but for some it isn't such an insignificant loss.

Why it matters: Many people with disabilities need straws to consume foods and beverages. With bigger companies and more cities removing access, it adds an additional burden for those who need them to make sure they constantly travel with their own supply or face consequences.

The big picture: The city of San Francisco approved a proposal on Tuesday that bans plastic straws and fluorinated chemical-treated takeout containers, joining Seattle as the second major U.S. city to join the fight.

  • Violators could face fines between $100 and $500, depending on number of offenses.
  • The proposal does not explicitly address disability access, but does note that "strict compliance" with the law is not required when it would "interfere with accommodating for any person's medical needs."

The dilemma, via NPR: "Paper straws often fall apart too quickly or are easy for people with limited jaw control to bite through. Silicone straws are often not flexible — one of the most important features for people with mobility challenges. Reusable straws need to be washed, which not all people with disabilities can do easily. And metal straws, which conduct heat and cold in addition to being hard and inflexible, can pose a safety risk."

Advocates are speaking out. Here's what they're saying:

  • Karen Hitselberger, who has a disability, writes in The Washington Post: "[N]o straw means no drink — if I try drinking my tea without a straw, I risk choking or burning myself with the hot liquid. Not willing to take the risk, I offered my tea to my friend, knowing I just couldn’t drink it."
  • Penny Pepper, who has a disability writes for The Guardian: "I know the environmental damage they cause, but I don’t have the luxury of a plastic-free life... I get uncomfortable and angry when I see non-disabled people behave as though they know the answer to this dilemma in exchanges that can get heated, if not abusive."
  • Policy analyst Katherine Carroll is quoted in Time: "The disability community is concerned with the ban because it was implemented without the input of their daily life experience... it seems the blanket bans are not taking into account that they need straws."
  • Disability advocate Jamie Szymkowiak also spoke to Time: "Having our voices not heard is all too familiar. We recognize the environmental concern and we see the impact single-use plastic has on the environment... but a company as big as Starbucks should pay attention to disabled customers’ needs and produce assessable straws."

Go deeper: In the vastness that is plastics pollution, straws make up a small share.

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Trump's new purge

Michael Atkinson, arrives in October for closed-door questioning about the whistleblower complaint. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sources close to President Trump expect him to fire more inspectors general across his government, after his Friday night removal of Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community I.G. who alerted Congress to the complaint that triggered impeachment.

What they're saying: Conservative allies of the president have told him that these I.G.s are members of the “deep state” trying to undermine him. Trump appears to have embraced that view.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Axios Visuals

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 1,140,327 — Total deaths: 60,887 — Total recoveries: 233,930Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 278,568 — Total deaths: 7,163 — Total recoveries: 9,920Map.
  3. Public health latest: The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The federal government will cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured.
  4. 2020 latest: "I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," President Trump said of the 2020 election, as more states hold primaries by mail. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday that every county in the state has opted to expand mail-in voting for the state's June 2 primary.
  5. Business updates: America's small business bailout is off to a bad start. The DOT is urging airlines to refund passengers due to canceled or rescheduled flights, but won't take action against airlines that provide vouchers or credits.
  6. Oil latest: A pivotal Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Military updates: Senators call for independent investigation into the firing of Navy captain of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt. The U.S. military is struggling to find new recruits as enlistment stations are shut down.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: New York reports record 630 deaths in 24 hours

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths in one day.

The big picture: As expected, COVID-19 death tolls are rising in the U.S., killing more than 7,100 people in total, and over 1,000 in 24 hours alone. The CDC is recommending Americans wear face coverings in public to help stop the spread, marking a significant change in messaging from the Trump administration.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 58 mins ago - Health