COVID-19 long-haulers could be protected under the ADA

jacksonville, Fla. — People left with lasting effects of COVID-19 could be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The news came with President Biden’s announcement at the White House Monday on the ADA’s 31st anniversary.

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Rebecca Williams with the Southeast ADA Center says if you have trouble breathing, or have chronic pain, fatigue and brain fog, those are all conditions that make doing your job more difficult.

”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 law,” Biden said.

The president wants Americans suffering from long-term COVID effects to have rights and resources under the law. That includes services and accommodations at work and school, along with protections against employment and housing discrimination.

Williams warns not everyone could be protected. She says having had COVID or even being a long-hauler alone won’t get you ADA protections; you’ll still have to meet certain criteria:

”A person with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, so certainly some of those symptoms of COVID long haul can rise to the level of disability,” Williams explained.

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She says the Southeast ADA Center has experienced a rise in people requesting protections — primarily from teachers who are typically more exposed to COVID than others, and people with health conditions that put them at a higher risk.

”We’re seeing a lot of calls where people are requesting to continue to work from home as an accommodation,” Williams added.

She expects even more people will be requesting ADA protections as cases continue to rise.

Baptist Health announced it is now posting COVID-19 patient numbers on Twitter daily as it tracks the spread of the virus. The hospital shared a link to its COVID information center, which can be found here: https://www.baptistjax.com/services/covid19