Severe long-term COVID-19 cases could now qualify as a disability, making federal protections and resources available to those suffering from the disease, President Joe Biden announced on Monday.
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The president made the announcement at the White House during an event that celebrated the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Biden said that lingering Covid symptoms in severe cases "can sometimes rise to the level of a disability."
The Health and Human Services department and the Justice, Education, and Labor departments have released guidelines to help individuals experiencing long-term effects from the virus receive federal benefits.
"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, which includes accommodations and services in the workplace and school, and our health care system so they can live their lives in dignity," Biden said.
This guidance created for those suffering says clearly that long Covid does not automatically qualify as a disability. The guidance from the HHS says that to qualify; an "individualized assessment is necessary to determine whether a person's long Covid condition or any of its symptoms substantially limits a major life activity."
Those with long Covid could qualify for "reasonable modifications" at work in schools, as well as community-based resources to help with their medical care and housing.
The number of people who have had lingering and long-term effects from the virus is low, but those who have had effects see wide-ranging problems. These include joint pain, fevers, fatigue, double vision, and even hair loss.
The World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are working to understand better how those with the virus are recovering, NBC News said.