Democrats call on CDC to release demographic breakdowns for long-term COVID-19 patients
Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Don Beyer (Va.) on Tuesday called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to release data on long COVID-19 broken down by demographic.
Last year, Congress approved $1.15 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health to study the effects of long COVID-19. Pressley and Beyer praised the work that has been done to better understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection and wrote that it was “critical” that lawmakers and the public be able to view current data and trends.
“While we understand that this research is ongoing and will need to adapt to the evolving nature of the pandemic, it is critical that Congress and the American public are able to gain insight into current data and emerging trends—including an overview of the vast array of symptoms individuals may experience, disaggregated by demographic groups—in order to inform policymaking and protect the public’s health,” they wrote in their letter to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
Most people who contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus are generally expected to recover within a few weeks of infection. However, some people continue to experience symptoms more than four weeks after becoming infected. According to the CDC, symptoms of long COVID-19 can include ongoing brain fog, changes in smell or taste, changes in menstrual cycles, and worsening symptoms following exercise.
Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services released guidance on how to address long COVID-19 as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission similarly announced that a person previously diagnosed with COVID-19 can be considered disabled if symptoms cause “physical or mental” impairment that “substantially limits one or more major life activities.”
The House Democrats in their letter pointed to data that suggests women are more susceptible to long COVID-19 as well as CDC data that showed minority communities, which already report higher rates of infection, are also experiencing corresponding higher rates of long-term effects.
“For example, people who are Black, Latino, and American Indian or Alaska Native are at least twice as likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19 than white people. These communities have historically faced racial discrimination and inequities in social determinants of health, contributing to greater risk of COVID infection,” they said. “Accordingly, these communities of color are at greater risk of suffering from Long COVID.”
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