July 28, 2021

Around the nation: Federal agencies categorize 'long Covid' as a disability

Daily Briefing

    The Department of Justice and HHS have categorized "long Covid" as a disability under the American Disabilities Act, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, the District of Columbia, and New York.

    • California: The San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, which represents almost 500 bars in the city, said customers will have to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to dine indoors at its members' bars starting Thursday. In a statement, the group said the decision was prompted by an increase in breakthrough infections among fully vaccinated people and that it is "obligated to protect our workers and their families and to offer safe space for customers to relax and socialize." According to NBC Bay Area, the group in a poll conducted prior to the decision found that 85% of them were in favor of the decision. (Folley, The Hill, 7/26; Saab, NBC Bay Area, 7/26)
    • District of Columbia: The Department of Justice and HHS on Monday released new guidance for categorizing "long Covid" as a disability, entitling individuals with the condition protection against discriminatory practices under the American Disabilities Act. However, not all cases of long Covid will be considered a disability, and an individual assessment is required to determine whether a person's condition "substantially limits a major life activity," according to HHS. In response to the decision, the Department of Labor launched a webpage describing workplace accommodations for people with long Covid. HHS has also released a guide to community-based resources aimed at those with long Covid. ( Knutson/Chen, Axios, 7/26; American Hospital Association, 7/26)
    • New York: A union representing 4,300 emergency workers with the New York City Fire Department spoke out against Mayor Bill de Blasio's (D) mandate requiring all city employees either be vaccinated against Covid-19 or tested weekly. The mandate, which was announced on Monday, goes into effect Sept. 13 and applies to the police department, public schools, and all other city agencies. In a statement, the union said it is "strongly opposed" to the new mandate and that it finds it "troubling" that the mandate was put in place when none of the currently available Covid-19 vaccines have been fully approved by FDA. However, the union also added that it is "open to dialogue" with city officials about the required Covid-19 vaccinations and testing. (Choi, The Hill, 7/26)

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