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President Biden speaking in Arlington, Virginia, on July 23. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Americans experiencing long-term symptoms of COVID-19 may qualify for federal disability resources and must receive accommodations, the White House announced Monday.

Driving the news: The Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services released new guidance that categorizes "long COVID" as a physical or mental impairment, entitling people with the illness to discrimination protections under the American Disabilities Act.

How it works: Anyone who had COVID-19 could develop long-term symptoms, even if the initial illness was mild, according to the HHS.

  • People can experience symptoms of long COVID months after first being infected with the virus.
  • Symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, chest pain, loss of taste or smell and joint or muscle pain.

Yes, but: The HHS said long COVID is not always a disability. "An individualized assessment is necessary to determine whether a person's long COVID condition or any of its symptoms substantially limits a major life activity," the agency said in its guidance.

What they're saying: "Many Americans who seemingly recover from the virus still face lingering challenges, like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain and fatigue," President Biden said Monday during an event to mark the 31st anniversary of the ADA.

  • "These conditions can sometimes rise to the level of a disability. So, 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 Act," the president added.

Worth noting: The Department of Education will also provide information on schools' responsibilities for adapting services to students for whom long COVID is a disability, the White House said.

The big picture: A study last month from FAIR Health found that about 23% of COVID-19 patients have developed at least one "persistent or new" medical condition more than four weeks after their initial diagnosis.

  • The American Medical Association's House of Delegates, the top physician's group in the U.S., last month called for policies to better diagnose and treat long-haul COVID-19, and endorsed guidelines for guiding any future vaccine mandates and credentials.

Go deeper: NIH to study long COVID in kids

Go deeper

Updated Sep 24, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: CDC director maintains Pfizer booster recommendation for high-risk workers — CDC director approves Pfizer boosters, adds eligibility for high-risk workers — FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up.
  2. Health: America's mismatched COVID fears — Some experts see signs of hope as cases fall — WHO: Nearly 1 in 4 Afghan COVID hospitals shut after Taliban takeover — D.C. goes further than area counties with vaccine mandates.
  3. Politics: Bolsonaro isolating after health minister tests positive at UN summit — United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated — Mormon Church to mandate masks in temples.
  4. Education: Health care workers and teachers caught up in booster confusion — Asymptomatic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine — Education Department investigating Texas mask mandate ban.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Sep 24, 2021 - Health

Judge denies Massachusetts State Police attempt to delay state vaccine mandate

Photo: Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A Superior Court judge on Thursday denied the request of the union representing 1,800 Massachusetts State Police troopers to delay the governor's state employee vaccine mandate, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: State workers who aren't vaccinated in Massachusetts by Oct. 17 will face disciplinary action, including possible termination.

Sep 25, 2021 - Health

Federal judge upholds Cincinnati health care system's COVID vaccine mandate

Photo: Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Friday that a health care provider serving the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati region can issue mandates requiring its more than 10,000 employees to get vaccinated or risk termination.

Why it matters: It's the latest ruling to uphold U.S. private employers' right to issue vaccine mandates, and comes after President Biden signed an executive order requiring vaccinations or once-a-week testing for companies with more than 100 employees.