By: Brenda Teed, LSW, COVID-19 Social Support Coordinator & Preventionist
As of January 2023, CDC data shows that COVID cases, deaths, and hospitalizations have stabilized after a small surge around the holidays.
Although many people with COVID-19 get better within weeks, some people who have been infected with the virus can experience long-term effects known as Long COVID or post-COVID.
The percentage of people who have had COVID and currently report long COVID symptoms declined from 19% in June 2022 to 11% in January 2023. The decrease is likely a reflection in the overall number of COVID cases. Despite the decline in cases, the rate of long COVID remains high. (Source: KFF Long COVID: What Do the Latest Data Show? Alice Burns Jan 26, 2023)
What is long COVID and what are the symptoms?
The CDC defines long COVID as people who experience a range of new or on-going symptoms that can last weeks or months after they have been infected with the virus.
Common symptoms (this list is not exhaustive):
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Difficulty thinking/concentration
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Joint muscle or pain
- Depression or anxiety
- Loss of taste or smell
- Damage to multiple organs
Can long COVID be a Disability?
Yes, long COVID can be a disability under the ADA if it substantially limits one or more major life activities. A person with long COVID has a disability if the person’s condition or any of its symptoms is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or major life activities. People whose long COVID qualifies as a disability are entitled to the same protections from discrimination as any other person with a disability under the ADA.
Support for people experiencing long COVID
To determine the most helpful steps to support people with long COVID, listen to what the person needs and ask questions to gain a better understanding of their experiences. For more information and guidance, check out the CDC’s “How Right Now Campaign” that promotes strengthening emotional well-being and resiliency found at this link https://www.cdc.gov/howrightnow/index.html.
You can also check out the Long COVID Alliance that can be found at this link https://longcovidalliance.org/.