Press Release COVID Disability Health and Social Programs Workers

What’s Available and What’s Needed to Address Long COVID’s Broad Impact


09/29/2022 1:00pm

Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460Mail_Outline

Contact: Hamid Bendaas, CPCC, [email protected]

Washington, DC — Researchers and policymakers are just now beginning to realize the potential impact that Long COVID could have on the US economy, health care systems, social programs, and policies. In a new report, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) and the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center (CPCC) team up to explain what is being done to prevent, diagnose, and treat Long COVID and what needs to be done to support patients and caregivers.

“As the pandemic continues, many people are experiencing long-term symptoms after COVID-19. In addition to ensuring access to health insurance, workplace accommodations, and existing disability benefits programs, the federal government should explore options to assist those suffering from Long COVID, just as it provided vital aid to those exposed to toxic burn pits and other chronic diseases,” report coauthor and CPCC Policy Associate Chenelle Hammonds said.

Long COVID is a complex epidemiological phenomenon comprised of a wide spectrum of symptoms that range from mild to completely disabling. These can improve or worsen over time, and can develop into new symptoms later. It is estimated that 10 to 30 percent of COVID-19 survivors develop Long COVID. The report documents a recent increase in the percentage of adults in their prime working years (ages 25–54) who report cognitive disabilities. Other recent research, detailed in the report, finds that, of the workers absent from a job for at least a week due to COVID-19, about a half million ended up leaving the labor force, losing about $9,000 in earnings over the 14 months after an initial week-long absence.

To address the impact of Long COVID and other infection-associated medical conditions that pre-date COVID-19, like myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), the the report recommends that the federal government create and fund a new national institute, under the umbrella of the National Institutes of Health, that is dedicated to conducting and supporting research, training, health information dissemination, and other activities related to these complex chronic conditions.

In addition, CEPR and CPCC recommend that Congress and the Biden administration take additional steps to address Long COVID, including:

  • Provide necessary funding to continue the federal effort to prevent COVID-19. Current emergency funding for COVID-19 prevention expires on September 30, 2022.
  • Take other steps to prevent COVID-19 and Long COVID, like improving indoor air quality.
  • Provide funding to ensure equitable access to Long COVID treatment and social services.
  • Improve access to affordable and high-quality health care.
  • Establish national guarantees of paid leave, paid sick days, and temporary disability insurance.
  • Increase access to short-term and long-term disability benefits for people with long COVID and other disabilities.

“Long COVID is a significant problem affecting people’s ability to work, to care for family members, and generally their capacity to complete various daily activities that were simple and routine before the pandemic,” report coauthor and CEPR Senior Policy Fellow Shawn Fremstad said. “It calls for a response from the federal government to ensure that no one is left behind simply because they previously had COVID and continue to suffer long-term effects. Paid leave, paid sick days, and access to disability insurance are just a few of the measures that policymakers could put in place to support Americans struggling with Long COVID.”

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