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Biden makes long-term COVID a disability under law

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

President Joe Biden announced Monday that Americans experiencing long-term COVID-19 symptoms may qualify for disability resources under federal law.

Biden delivered his remarks during a Rose Garden event marking the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They came shortly after the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services issued new guidance that categorizes “long COVID” as a physical or mental impairment, thus allowing those with it to receive protections under the ADA.

“Many Americans who seemingly recover from the virus still face lingering challenges, like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain and fatigue,” Biden said. “These conditions can sometimes rise to the level of a disability. So, we’re bringing agencies together to make sure Americans with long COVID, who have a disability, have access to the rights and resources that are due under the disability law.”

Long-term COVID symptoms can affect anyone who had the disease regardless of its severity, HHS said, adding that sometimes such symptoms do not appear until months after the initial diagnosis. Reported symptoms include difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, chest pain, fatigue, brain fog, joint or muscle pain and loss of one’s sense of taste or smell.

The White House earlier this month also issued guidance to employers outlining how they must try to reasonably accommodate workers who have been diagnosed with long COVID, referencing examples like modified work schedules.

Biden was a co-sponsor of the ADA when it was introduced in 1990. It was signed into law by former President George H.W. Bush.

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