© Reuters. United States President Joe Biden makes remarks during an event marking the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, the United States, on July 26, 2021. REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein
By Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden said Monday the White House was pushing for people with long-term symptoms of COVID-19 to be protected from discrimination as it celebrated the anniversary of a landmark law for people with disabilities.
U.S. authorities will coordinate to ensure that people suffering from serious long-term health problems are protected after their infections with the novel coronavirus end, he said.
“Many Americans who appear to have recovered from the virus still face ongoing challenges such as breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain or fatigue,” Biden said. “These conditions can sometimes escalate to a disability.”
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report released in February, around one in ten COVID-19 patients are still unwell 12 weeks after their acute infection, and many suffer from symptoms for much longer.
Biden spoke at a Rose Garden event marking the 31st anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which makes discrimination against people with disabilities illegal in public housing, employment, transportation and community life. Nearly 57 million Americans had some form of disability in 2010, the US Census Bureau reported.
The new efforts are designed to ensure that people with these long-term COVID-19 symptoms “have access to the rights and resources that are due under the Disability Act,” Biden said.
This could include arranging new accommodation for these disabilities in restaurants, workplaces, schools and the health care system.
The White House did not immediately provide further details about the program.
“This was a Democratic law that was signed by a Republican president,” said Biden. “To our nation, the ADA is more than a law,” he said. “It’s a testament to our character as a people, our character as Americans.”
The effort comes because the rapidly spreading delta variant and slower uptake of vaccines threatened to jeopardize government efforts to control the pandemic.
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