President Joe Biden on Monday marked the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by announcing guidance that extends its protections to people with “long COVID.”

Biden laid out the plan in a Rose Garden speech alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, hailing the act ― which he co-sponsored as a senator in 1990 ― as a “bulwark against discrimination and a path to independence.”

“The ADA is more than a law,” he said. “It’s a testament to our character as a people, our character as Americans.”

With the signing of the proclamation Monday, COVID-19 long-haulers whose lingering symptoms rise to the level of a disability will have civil rights protections under the ADA.

A joint memo issued by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department enumerates some of the symptoms of long COVID while emphasizing the list is not exhaustive.

The agencies also caution that long COVID is not always a disability and must rise to the level of “substantially limiting” a major life activity in order to qualify.

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

“We’re bringing agencies together to make sure Americans with long COVID who have a disability have access to the rights and resources that are due under the disability law,” he added. “Which includes accommodations and services in the workplace and school, and our health care system, so they can live their lives in dignity and get the support they need as they continue to navigate these challenges.”

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