• Long COVID is when symptoms like trouble breathing, brain fog, chronic pain, and fatigue continue for several weeks or months.
• Between 10 and 30% of people who catch the virus are affected with lingering symptoms.
• The Biden administration said people suffering from long COVID will be covered under federal disability law.
Americans experiencing “long COVID” will now be covered under federal disability law, President Biden announced on Monday.
During a speaking engagement at the Rose Garden on the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Biden made the announcement that some coronavirus infections can last for months.
“Many Americans who seemingly recovered from the virus still face lingering challenges like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain or fatigue,” Biden said. “These conditions can sometimes rise to the level of a disability.”
The White House didn’t provide additional details about the program, but Biden said that it could provide COVID-19 long haulers with special accommodations in the workplace and in schools, restaurants, and the healthcare system.
US agencies will coordinate to make sure people suffering from severe long-term health problems related to the virus are protected, according to Reuters.
Here’s what you need to know about long COVID-19.
What is long COVID?
While most people that become infected with COVID-19 tend to get better within weeks, some people experience conditions related to the virus that can last four or more weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Long COVID affects between 10% and 30% of people who catch the virus, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Depending on the person, long COVID can come in the form of various symptoms and there’s no exact timetable on when they will subside.
The symptoms of long COVID
Those who suffer for months after the initial COVID-19 infection have reported experiencing a different combination of many symptoms, including:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Worsening symptoms after physical or mental activities
- Brain fog
- Heart palpitations
- Joint or muscle pain
- Pins-and-needles feeling
- Mood changes
- Change in smell or taste
- Changes in period cycles
People with severe COVID-19 cases can experience multiorgan effects of autoimmune conditions that can last for months. Multiorgan effects impact the entire body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, skin, and brain.
Long COVID can be deadly
Autoimmune conditions cause your immune system to attack healthy cells mistakenly, resulting in painful swelling or tissue damage. Patients with COVID-19 that were hospitalized can also experience post-intensive care syndrome (PICS), which includes a bevy of side effects such as weakness, trouble thinking, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A recent study found that nerve damage and a buildup of immune cells in the cornea may be a sign of long COVID.
Additionally, research by the Cleveland Clinic found that COVID-19 can lead to Alzheimer’s disease-like dementia. Although the study didn’t find much evidence about COVID-19 attacking the brain, it did find “close network relationships between the virus and genes/proteins associated with several neurological diseases.”
“We discovered that SARS-CoV-2 infection significantly altered Alzheimer’s markers implicated in brain inflammation and that certain viral entry factors are highly expressed in cells in the blood-brain barrier,” said researchers. “These findings indicate that the virus may impact several genes or pathways involved in neuroinflammation and brain microvascular injury, which could lead to Alzehimer’s disease-like cognitive impairment.”