Biden launches effort to protect people disabled by COVID-19

by Reuters
Monday, 26 July 2021 16:46 GMT

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden puts a note with the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan is his pocket as he delivers the Memorial Day speech during the National Memorial Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, U.S. May 31, 2021. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

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The effort aims to aid Americans who are suffering from long-term symptoms of COVID-19

(Adds quote from Biden, background on U.S. laws)

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden said on Monday he is launching a U.S. government initiative to prohibit discrimination against people disabled by long-term symptoms of COVID-19.

The effort will bring U.S. agencies together to ensure people suffering from severe long-term health problems even after the end of their infections with the novel coronavirus.

"Many Americans who seemingly recovered from the virus still face lingering challenges like breathing problems, brain fog, chronic pain or fatigue," Biden said. "These conditions can sometimes rise to the level of a disability."

Biden made the remarks at a Rose Garden event celebrating the 31st anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark U.S. law aimed at prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities.

The new effort will be aimed at making sure people with those long-term COVID-19 symptoms "have access to the rights and resources that are due under the disability law."

That could include mandating new accommodations for those disabilities at restaurants, in workplaces, at school and in the healthcare system.

The White House did not immediately provide additional details on the program.

The effort comes as the fast-spreading Delta variant and slower uptake of vaccines has threatened to derail the administration's efforts to control the pandemic.

The U.S. is now reporting more than 47,000 cases of COVID-19 per day, according to a seven-day U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention average, far lower than a peak above 200,000 at the beginning of the year but nearly triple the rate of a month ago.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Chris Reese)