What a week this has been for us #LongCovid patients and patient advocates! After over 1.5 years of tirelessly pleading the public and our government to believe us, recognize us, research us, support us, and acknowledge our immense challenges faced with this debilitating #PostViral illness, and especially as it relates to our livelihoods and employment, all while no treatment or medical support exists, the @whitehouse did what it’s purposed with: being a government for the people, by the people.
On today’s @hhsgov stakeholder call I asked the question that many within the #LongHauler community have been asking as it relates to this week’s ADA guidance update, enabling Long Covid patients with “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities” to be protected under its legislation. The question of: are positive #covid tests or diagnoses required for working Long Haulers to receive employment protections?
The answer? No, because @potus prioritizes equity over all, and due to the testing access and reliability issues faced throughout the pandemic, it wouldn’t be equitable to mandate such a discriminatory practice.
This also means that employers should not demand diagnoses or test results in order to provide reasonable accommodations and vital employment protections necessary to staff in need of support for their disability. It’s hard enough to cope with the physical and emotional pains of Long Covid, but it’s another to be forced to work through them when that very act results in significantly worsening health outcomes, not to mention traumatic work and life conditions.
And while not everyone is disabled by Long Covid, those that experience a noticeable impairment in their ability to function (including chronic neurological, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, etc. symptoms from the multi-system organ damage and inflammation experienced as a result of Long Covid) are entitled to the protections set forth by the ADA.
And if employers refuse to support or demand tests in order to comply? That’s a civil rights issue and HHS encourages raising it to them and the DOJ.
One big step forward on a positive path for many. 💜