This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new Long COVID research report focusing on patients’ experience with the long-term health effects of COVID-19 while offering solutions for the workplace. The unique, “human-centered” approach to research and problem solving, which the HHS calls “Health+”, gathers input from impacted individuals. The firsthand experiential data helps researchers understand Long COVID and drive solutions in the workplace and beyond. According to the HHS, between 5 and 30 percent of people who had COVID-19 developed Long COVID. What’s more, about one million people are out of the workforce at a given moment because of Long COVID. This latest Long COVID research report comes nearly a year-and-a-half after the HHS released guidance recognizing Long COVID as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Recognizing Long COVID Symptoms

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with Long COVID have a range of new or ongoing symptoms that can last weeks or months after initial infection with Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-COVID-2 (PASC), commonly known as COVID-19. Consequently, these symptoms can worsen with physical or mental activity. Common symptoms of Long COVID include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes called “brain fog”)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (known as heart palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Cough
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of taste or smell

Meanwhile, severe but less common symptoms include lung damage, heart damage, kidney damage, neurological damage, and emotional or mental health conditions. In total, the list of potential symptoms someone with Long COVID may experience is in the hundreds.

New Long COVID Research Report

The new Long COVID research report, Health+ Long COVID Report, combines more than a thousand interviews and workshops involving Long COVID patients. The report looks at the unique nature and impact of individual Long COVID cases according to the severity of the case and the amount of “contextual support” or the range of resources an individual has available to them. Cases may range from highly severe Long COVID with less contextual support (the most devastating impact) to mild Long COVID with more contextual support (generally manageable illness).

The Long COVID research report offers a variety of short-term and long-term solutions based on patient experience. The report identifies opportunities to ensure individuals with Long COVID receive the resources and assistance they need in several areas, including in the workplace. In the end, employers have an opportunity to offer valuable contextual support to employees and applicants diagnosed with Long COVID. For example, employers should understand their duty to grant reasonable accommodations to workers living with Long COVID, if requested.

Reasonable Accommodations E-Learning Program for Employers and Managers

According to the CDC, 1 in 4 Americans has a condition or impairment classified as a disability. With “Long COVID” now recognized as a qualifying disability, and an increased number of employees experiencing serious mental health issues, businesses of all sizes are more likely than ever before to receive an employee request for an accommodation of their disability. To help business owners and their managers comply with state and federal reasonable accommodation laws, Personnel Concepts created the Reasonable Accommodations E-Learning Program for Employers and Managers. This online eLearning module includes self-guided training on correctly handling disability accommodation requests, links to digital resources, and a standalone interactive assessment tool that employers can use whenever you receive a qualifying request. It also comes with a legal brief on “Long COVID” as disability.