Long COVID changes Americans' understanding of 'disabled': report

Protesters suffering from long-term COVID-19 symptoms demonstrate outside of the White House, calling out U.S. President Joe Biden for his remarks on CBS's "60 Minutes" saying the COVID-19 pandemic "is over," in Washington, D.C., U.S., September 19, 2022. /CFP

Long COVID is changing the meaning of "the disabled" for Americans, a U.S. media website reported this week.

In an article tilted "Long COVID Is Going to Change How We Talk About Disability," the website "sheknows" said the prevalence of long COVID has made some lose their taste or smell, while many other affected people have found themselves permanently disabled.

The article said long COVID symptoms include severe fatigue, heart palpitations, a constant ringing in the ears, chronic foot pain and a hard time swallowing among other things.

"It's a disability that only ones that suffer with it can explain," a patient was quoted as saying.

Long COVID or post-COVID syndrome, has affected nearly one in five Americans who have had COVID-19, said the website, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sara Fergenson, a social worker and rural public health advocate in West Virginia, called for "a conversation around normalizing what disabled means."

If the definition of "the disabled" expands to include long COVID patients, the medical community as well as other public resources can offer more help to those who have seen their daily lives turned upside down due to the COVID-19, said the report.