As part of the ceremonies marking the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Biden administration this week formally released a package of guidance and resources to support people with Long Covid.
The White House fact sheet noted, “The announcements from the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Justice, Education, and Labor provide information about where individuals can access resources and accommodations and clarifies the rights for health and educational services and support. This includes:
- Guidance explaining that Long Covid can be a disability under various Federal civil rights laws. The Office for Civil Rights at HHS and Department of Justice released guidance explaining that some individuals with Long Covid may have a disability under various civil rights laws that entitles them to protection from discrimination.
- Guidance that addresses the needs of children with Long Covid who may be children with disabilities. The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services issued a resource document providing information about schools’ and public agencies’ responsibilities for the provision of services and reasonable modifications to children and students for whom Long Covid is a disability.
- Access to resources on disability support services. The Administration for Community Living at HHS released a guide to community-based resources that can help people if they now need assistance to live in their own home, go to work or school, or participate in the community. These resources can provide information about what is available locally; help people connect to services, such as transportation and personal care attendants; help arrange reasonable accommodations and access vaccinations; and more.
- Information about accommodations in the workplace. The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the Department of Labor launched a new webpage that includes resources on Long Covid organized by stakeholder groups, such as workers, youth and young adults, and employers. The resources include information on requesting and providing workplace accommodations for individuals with Long Covid. In addition, ODEP released a blog discussing the impact of Long Covid on workers with disabilities.”
Solve M.E. President and CEO Oved Amitay lauded the Biden administration announcement, remarking, “This announcement is a major step forward in addressing the needs of the alarmingly growing number of people with Long Covid, including children. This concerted response by various Federal agencies is a clear recognition that Long Covid is a field-wide challenge that requires focused answers. Issuing the guidance explaining that Long Covid can be a disability under various Federal civil rights laws, on the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is a significant development for the broader community of people affected by post-infectious disease, such as ME/CFS. We are encouraged that the patients’ voice was heard, and will continue to advocate for real policy solutions to these needs and for health equity.”