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Biden: Americans with long-COVID symptoms may qualify for disability resources

Americans experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 may qualify for disability resources from the federal government, President Biden announced Monday during an event to mark the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Driving the news: The departments of Justice and Health and Human Services released new guidance Monday that categorizes “long COVID" as a physical or mental impairment, entitling people with the illness to discrimination protections under the the ADA.

How it works: Anyone who had COVID-19 could develop long-term symptoms, even if the initial illness was mild, according to the HHS.

  • People can experience symptoms of long COVID months after first being infected with the virus.
  • Symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, chest pain, loss of taste or smell and joint or muscle pain.

What they're saying: "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 act," the president added.

The big picture: A study last month from FAIR Health found that about 23% of COVID-19 patients have developed at least one "persistent or new" medical condition more than four weeks after their initial diagnosis.

  • The American Medical Association's House of Delegates, the top physician's group in the U.S., last month called for policies to better diagnose and treat long-haul COVID-19, and endorsed guidelines for guiding any future vaccine mandates and credentials.

Go deeper: NIH to study long COVID in kids

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