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01 Sep

September 2021: “Long-COVID” Now Covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act

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Update Applicable to:
All employers.

What happened?
On July 26, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) released guidance on “Long-COVID” being classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

What are the details?
The guidance released by the DHHS details “Long-COVID”, the common symptoms of those afflicted, the impairments those with it can experience, and how “Long COVID” may be considered a disability.

Some of the common symptoms of “Long-COVID” described are:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes called “brain fog”)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Dizziness on standing
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (known as heart palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Cough
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell

Examples of the physical conditions that some of those with “Long-COVID” can experience are:

  • Lung damage
  • Heart damage, including inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Kidney damage
  • Neurological damage
  • Damage to the circulatory system resulting in poor blood flow
  • Lingering emotional illness and other mental health conditions

The guidance can be read in full here.

An article on the guidance can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the guidance provided by the DHHS and their policies on leaves and disabilities to stay in compliance with the coverage now provided under the ADA for “Long-COVID.”