On July 26, President Biden announced that long COVID could soon qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This new designation would allow people with long COVID to access federal resources and protections.

What the ADA Does

The ADA is a federal law that protects people with disabilities. If COVID-19 were to qualify as a disability, people with long COVID would be able to access reasonable accommodations and protections—one of which is the prohibition of discrimination.

The ADA is a flexible law that does not have strict definitions on who is and is not protected.

“Instead it is broad enough to acknowledge that humans experience identical conditions in very different ways,” Jackson says. “And it says that the law will protect them when those experiences become disabling.”

Of nearly two million COVID-19 patients, studies estimate that 23.2% have at least one post-COVID condition.

According to Jackson, to be protected by the ADA, an individual needs to prove that they are experiencing a substantial impairment—meaning a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities.