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Is Long-COVID-19 Considered a Disability Under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Two years after COVID-19 was first detected, the global COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 300 million people, claimed the lives of almost 5.5 million, and changed the lives of everyone in the world.

Scientists and the public are learning more about the virus, but so much more still remains a mystery. Surprisingly, long COVID-19 — also called “post-acute COVID-19” or “chronic COVID-19 — has emerged as a disease with a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems experienced more than four weeks after an initial COVID-19 infection. Even asymptomatic people can later present with long COVID-19.

Dr. Devang Sanghavi, a critical care medicine specialist, breaks long COVID-19 into three categories of symptoms: direct cell damage preventing full recovery; chronic hospitalization due to being in the hospital, the ICU, or in bed for weeks, and post-recovery onset. The five most common symptoms of long COVID-19 are fatigue, headache, brain fog, hair loss, and shortness of breath. Other symptoms are related to the lungs (cough, chest discomfort, sleep apnea, and pulmonary fibrosis), the cardiovascular system (arrhythmias and myocarditis), and the nervous system (dementia, depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder).

In light of the rise of long COVID-19 as a significant health condition, the United States Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) published a joint guidance in July 2021. The guidance explained that long COVID-19 may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act if it

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