Long COVID and Disability Protections

Post-COVID Syndrome or Long COVID occurs when someone still has COVID-19 symptoms or long covid symptoms, long after the typical recovery period from COVID-19. Most people recover within a few weeks of getting COVID; Long COVID occurs when those symptoms don’t go away and don’t seem to be getting better.

Long COVID symptoms can include the typical COVID-19 Symptoms like Fatigue, fever, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and a cough. Other Post-COVID Syndrome symptoms include; joint/muscle pain, brain (neurological) symptoms (trouble concentrating or thinking, headaches, dizziness, loss of smell or taste, anxiety, or depression), heart symptoms (chest pain), stomach pain, blood clots, rashes, or changes in your menstrual cycle.

Long COVID is very common; about 1 in 5 people 18-64, and 1 in 4 people 65 and older has a medical condition that COVID-19 could cause. There is a higher risk for Post-COVID Syndrome if you had a more severe case of COVID-19, but it can also happen to people who had a mild case or no symptoms at all; check the CDC website for more information.

Some people are at increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19 because of where they live or work, or because they can’t get health care. Health inequities may put some people from racial or ethnic minority groups and some people with disabilities at greater risk for developing post-COVID conditions. Scientists are researching some of those factors that may place these communities at higher risk of both getting infected or developing post-COVID conditions. The best way to prevent Post-COVID Syndrome is to get the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots.

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 issued Guidance on “Long COVID” as a Disability Under the ADA, Section 504, and Section 1557. Each of these federal laws protects people with disabilities from discrimination. This guidance also provides resources for additional information and best practices.