End of the Public Health Emergency & Information on Long COVID

June 2, 2023

En español

The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that May 11, 2023 marked the end of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). You can find our blog post discussing the end of the PHE and its effect on access to certain governmental programs by clicking here. The White House released a statement last month identifying the steps it is taking to ensure all individuals have continued access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and tests, and to facilitate preparedness when it comes to managing the risks of COVID-19 moving forward. In its statement, which you can find by clicking here, the White House identified the following policies and programs that will remain in effect despite the end of the PHE, which notably include a commitment to understanding and addressing symptoms of Long COVID, which may qualify as a disability:

This last bullet point, describing the federal government’s efforts related to Long COVID, will be one topic in a series of blog posts in the coming months, through which DRT will explore how the end of the PHE impacts people with Long COVID, what qualifies as Long COVID, and how it may constitute a disability. You can find guidance from HHS on Long COVID as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act here: Guidance on “Long COVID” as a Disability Under the ADA, Section | HHS.gov. It is our hope that DRT’s blog series will provide information and resources for those whose COVID-19 suffering did not cease with the end of the PHE, including people who are experiencing Long COVID, dealing with a COVID-related loss, and/or experiencing mental health and substance use issues related to the pandemic.

The federal government’s commitment to invest in understanding and addressing Long Covid is outlined in its National Research Action Plan on Long COVID, which can be found here: National Research Action Plan (covid.gov) (August 2022). The Biden Administration has invested over $1.1 billion in Long COVID research and in promoting evidence-based care models for such. You can read more about the federal government’s attempts to make Long COVID services, supports, and care as accessible as possible in the Fact Sheets related to those efforts: FACT SHEET: The Biden Administration Accelerates Whole-of-Government Effort to Prevent, Detect, and Treat Long COVID | The White House (4/5/22) and FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Makes Progress in the Whole-of-Government Response to Long COVID | HHS.gov (4/5/23).

The 4/5/23 Fact Sheet notes the Biden Administration’s efforts to raise awareness of Long COVID as a potential cause of disability protected under civil rights law and includes a resource called the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) (website here: Disability Information and Access Line | ACL Administration for Community Living), which aims to connect people with disabilities to the COVID-19 resources they need. The DIAL staff are trained on Long COVID guidance and resources. You can call, text, or videophone the DIAL staff at 888-677-1199, and the website also offers contact information via email, chat, and direct connection to an agent in ASL.

We’ll be back in the coming weeks with more information and resources to support Tennesseans experiencing Long COVID, individuals who are dealing with a COVID-related loss, and people who are experiencing other issues related to the pandemic.