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Louisiana Disability Advocate April Dunn Dies at 33 Due to COVID-19

Disability advocate April Dunn has died due to complications from COVID-19 at the age of 33, according to a statement from the Louisiana governor’s office, on Saturday. Dunn was an active member of the disability community in Louisiana.

“On behalf of @FirstLadyOfLA and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19,” Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards tweeted, adding:

She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities as a dedicated staff member in the Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs. April worked hard as an advocate for herself & other members of the disability community. … I was proud to have an advocate like April on the task force & on my staff.

Dunn, who had a developmental disability, cerebral palsy and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), began her disability advocacy work in 2013. After facing difficulties trying to get a college education, Dunn worked with Louisiana lawmakers to pass Act 833 in 2014, which provided an alternative path for people with disabilities to earn a high school diploma. Thanks to her efforts, an additional law was passed in 2016 to expand educational opportunities for people with disabilities.

After meeting Louisiana Governor Edwards on several occasions, Dunn was hired to the state’s Office of Disability Affairs. Among the projects she worked on in that position, Dunn campaigned for more job opportunities for people with disabilities through Edwards’ As a Model Employer Taskforce. Dunn also served as chair of the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The virus, which causes a respiratory infection, has also led to more than 1,600 deaths, including 137 deaths in Louisiana as of Saturday.

“Tonight, we mourn the loss & honor the life of the Council’s Chairperson #AprilDunn, who passed away from COVID-19 complications,” wrote the Louisiana Developmental Disabilities Council on Twitter. “She was a strong advocate for people w/ disabilities & dedicated Chairperson. Louisiana is forever grateful for her beautiful life & disability work.”

Header image via Louisiana Governor’s Office