PHOENIX - President Joe Biden has announced that long-term COVID-19 can be considered a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act, which would provide them with certain protections, such as federal resources and protection from discrimination.
According to the Department of Justice, COVID will be considered a disability "If the person's condition, or any of its symptoms, is a 'physical or mental' impairment that 'substantially limit' one or more major life activities."
Long-term COVID-19 is not always considered a disability. The agency says there needs to be an individualized assessment to determine that.
With that announcement, some are hopeful it will help them get back to work.
Longhaulers detail struggle against disease
Some longhaulers report still being on oxygen, having brain fog and other symptoms months later. Many say having this considered a disability will make their lives easier.
"Real frustrating. I don't like to consider myself being continually sick," said Randy Walters of Mesa.
It has been a rough eight months for Walters, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Jan. 15 and hospitalized two days later. For 20 days, his only connection to the outside world was his Facebook isolation journals.
"I wanted people to be aware of every day, every moment, what you go through, the experiences, and I did that with the full knowledge that it might not have a happy ending. One journal might be my last journal," said Walters.
The journey didn't end with Walters' discharge from the hospital. To this day, he still has symptoms.
"Like the last three days, I haven't left the house," said Walters. "I've been dizzy, my equilibrium isn't right, so it's things like that. Walking. I'll go, like, 150 feet, and then I am out of breath and need my oxygen."
News of Biden's announcement came as a relief for 28-year-old Claudia Gutierrez, who had to quit her job and leave school amid complications from COVID-19.
"It's pretty unbearable, and I have a lot of brain fog. So used to be a very quick thinker," said Gutierrez. "Right now, financially, a lot of people including myself, we're drowning here. We're drowning. We're struggling financially."
The hope is that someday, Gutierrez will be able to get back to work.
"I'm glad this has been taken into something that can help us in the near future," said Gutierrez.
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CDC Website for COVID-19
https://espanol.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html (In Spanish/En Español)
AZDHS Website for COVID-19
https://www.azdhs.gov/covid19/es/index.php (In Spanish/En Español)
AZDHS Website for COVID-19 Vaccination
https://www.azdhs.gov/covid19/es/vaccines/index.php (In Spanish/En Español)