News from LIFE
A Center for Independent Living
Although many people with COVID-19 get better within weeks, some people continue to experience symptoms that can last months after first being infected, or may have new or recurring symptoms at a later time. This can happen to anyone who has had COVID- 19, even if the initial illness was mild. People with this condition are sometimes called “long-haulers.” This condition is known as “long COVID.”
In light of the rise of long COVID as a persistent and significant health issue, the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice have joined together to provide this guidance.
This guidance explains that long COVID can be a disability under Titles II (state and local government) and III (public accommodations) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Section 1557). Each of these federal laws protects people with disabilities from discrimination. This guidance also provides resources for additional information and best practices. This document focuses solely on long COVID, and does not address when COVID-19 may meet the legal definition of disability.
The civil rights protections and responsibilities of these federal laws apply even during emergencies. They cannot be waived.
Examples of common symptoms of long COVID include:
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating (brain fog)
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness on standing
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Joint or muscle pain
- Depression or anxiety
- Recurring fever
- Loss of taste or smell
Long COVID can be considered a disability if the symptoms cause an impairment that “substantially limits” one or moremajor life activities. Individual assessment is needed
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