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July 25, 2023Advocacy Matters

Update on Long-Term COVID

Update on Long-Term COVID

Disability Matters with Joyce Bender

Tuesday, July 25, 2023


Update on Long-Term COVID

What is Long COVID and is it recognized as a disability under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA)?

Before we answer those questions, let us review how we came to learn about Long COVID.

About late winter and spring of 2020, people who had tested positive for COVID started sharing a new set of symptoms, post infection, on social media. Symptoms reported included fatigue, continued disruption of smell and taste, muscle pain, and more. Early names for Long COVID included long haulers, chronic COVID, and post-acute COVID.

Data from the U.S. Department of Human Services National Center for Health Statistics tell us that more than 40% of adults in the U.S. reported having tested positive for COVID-19 and that one in five of us (19%) are still having symptoms of what we call Long COVID.

Today, the phrase Long COVID is an internationally accepted term but there is not one definition of Long COVID.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines Long COVID in part as new, returning, or ongoing health problems present four or more weeks after being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Federal health care officials are studying Long COVID.  Researchers are trying to find evidence-based conclusions of its existence, testing, and treatment as well as studying the health disparities of Long COVID in BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ+ communities.

Back to the original question.  Is Long COVID a disability under the ADA?  It can be.  We must keep in mind the definitions of disability under the ADA and determine if our individual experience falls in line with one or more of the prongs of the definition of disability. Do you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities? Are regarded as having a disability? Is their a record of your disability? Are you associated with a person who has a disability?

Do employers have to accommodation an employee with Long COVID?  After meeting the definition of disability under the ADA, the answer is yes.  Reasonable accommodations could include a quiet workspace, changes to lighting, rest breaks, a flexible schedule and more.


It is important to stay up to date on the research, diagnosis, treatment, and accommodations associated with Long COVID.  Visit for important links to information we discussed in today’s segment like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s updated technical assistance on Long COVID released on May 15, 2023.


The White House

Memorandum on Addressing the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19

What is Long COVID?

National Center for Health Statistics Press Release

Nearly One in Five American Adults Who Have Had COVID 19 Still Have “Long COVID.”


“What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws”