Masking and social distancing should be encouraged or even mandated once more in public in order to protect people from COVID-19 and from the possibility of suffering from “Long COVID,” according to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services.
The report, commissioned by HHS and produced by research agency Coforma, calls for a broad range of government policies to help people who continue to deal with the lingering effects of COVID. Those policies include an awareness campaign, funding for long COVID support groups, financial support for students and workers, and new health benefits for COVID victims.
Reinstating a mask mandate may be the most controversial recommendation in the report, which says ending that mandate in late 2021 and 2022 is making it harder for people with long COVID.
The 88-page report claims, “The lifting of mask mandates and indifferent attitude toward masking and social distancing typical in many public and private places further isolates people with Long COVID.”
The report calls for policymakers to “encourage or mandate policies and protocols regarding masking and social distancing in public spaces.“
Other strongly-worded suggestions included in the report on how to deal with “long Covid” include:
- “Vaccine promotion as a preventative measure for Long COVID”
- Expanded mental and behavioral health care for people with long COVID, their caregivers and support groups
- Revised federal and state policies to make sure companies and schools provide needed support for those with long COVID, including guidelines on how to accommodate them
- Job-searching and retraining programs
- Financial assistance to college students such as boarding subsidies, “loan forgiveness for graduates”
- Expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to encourage companies to hire people with long COVID
- Expanded disability leave and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for health care workers
- “Diversity, equity and inclusion-related outreach funding” to ensure research money helps “under-resourced and underrepresented communities”
Woven throughout the report is the suggestion that society should continue to adhere to Covid restrictions, because the transgender community and ‘people of color’ are more at risk from the virus.
The report also includes the following claim on page 9:
While the data on the disproportionate impact of Long COVID across different communities is incomplete, it is strongly believed that people of color are more likely to be affected by Long COVID, as a result of their increased likelihood to become infected with COVID-19 and lower access to health care.1 Additionally, Long COVID is more common in bisexual and transgender people due to lower access to health care and stigma regarding their gender or sexuality.
Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine, the first openly transgender person to serve in that role, posted a link to a press release announcing the new report on Monday.
Listening to & learning from #LongCOVID patients is essential to accelerating understanding & breakthrough. Long COVID isn’t 1 condition—it’s a multisystemic condition that requires a multi-sector approach. Learn what you can do to support families impacted by #LongCOVID.
(2/2)#LongCOVID will be around long after the pandemic subsides, impacting our communities, health care system, economy, & the well-being of future generations. We can reduce the impact, if we act together now.
(2/2)#LongCOVID will be around long after the pandemic subsides, impacting our communities, health care system, economy, & the well-being of future generations. We can reduce the impact, if we act together now. Read the Health+ Long COVID Report for more: https://t.co/H45p2VfdEz
— ADM Rachel Levine (@HHS_ASH) November 21, 2022
Patients are our partners in addressing the long-term impact of #COVID19. Check out the Health+ Long COVID Report to understand the patient journey to seek treatment, and ways we can work together to improve #LongCOVID patients’ quality of health and life. https://t.co/5HZGSPsNx2
— HHS_Health (@HHS_Health) November 21, 2022
Mask mandate return? HHS report wants to ‘encourage or mandate’ masking to stop long COVID https://t.co/QOjhKGhCNm
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 22, 2022
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