Long-haul COVID cases now considered a disability

Kristen Kowall was diagnosed with COVID-19 in June 2020. Ashley Hoven was diagnosed in October 2020. Both are still feeling the effects. They are COVID long-haulers.

"I can have physical activity to a point, but I could have a dizzy spell and then I also tire really easily, and sometimes there’s no warning," Ashley Hoven said.

"I can’t even sit at my son’s baseball games anymore because of the heat intolerance. I can’t sit outside. I’m dry heaving and puking," Kowall said.

That’s why Ashley and others are celebrating the latest news from the White House on long-haulers.

Long-haul COVID cases, when COVID symptoms last months after first becoming sick, will now be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning long-haulers will be protected and accommodated at work. 

"It would be comforting to know that my employer would understand that I do have a disability and I do need assistance and I will need breaks and I will need help," Kowall said. 

But, Kristen and Ashley were both self-employed before getting sick, so it’s unclear how they might benefit from this distinction. 

They hope to qualify for disability benefits through social security. 

"Because it’s such a new illness, it could take them years to get properly evaluated to even qualify for disability because that process is so complicated," Hoven said. 

"I would definitely want to apply and be able to get financial assistance to help cover all of these extra expenses that I’m now having to tend to," Kowall said. 

They say disability recognition is good, but it’s just the first step.

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