TAMPA, Florida. – Wesley Chapel’s Tara Shock was in intensive care for nine days last December, diagnosed with COVID-19 and unable to see her own parents.
“I had heart failure within 24 hours,” she recalls.
She thought the day she got out was the first day for the rest of her life.
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Now she can no longer stand without a racing heart, has brain fog, blood clots and an initial diagnosis of autoimmune diseases. She uses FMLA to take time off work.
“I never thought that in a million years I would be where I am now,” she said. “It really took my whole life away from me.”
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She didn’t want to be vaccinated, but the virus almost killed her. Now she wants everyone to know what to expect if they choose to stay unvaccinated.
The president announced on Monday that cases like hers are now considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as long as persistent symptoms “severely limit vital activities.”
“So that they can live their lives with dignity and get the support they need,” said White House President Biden during a ceremony commemorating the signing of the original ADA.
Tampa attorney Jason Imler has handled cases of 20 COVID-19 long-haul vans and says the key to the new guidance is giving customers a legal path to get reasonable accommodation from employers, such as the right to work from home.
“The employer cannot refuse you this application because it is only an illness,” said Imler.
The administration’s instruction by the Department of Health and Welfare is that an individual assessment is required, which Imler expects to be done by a doctor.
This is protection that Shock likes but wishes she doesn’t need.
“That is relief in the sense of security, protection and simply recognition,” said Shock. “Long distance COVID running was something I didn’t even know about until I got all the different diagnoses.”
The new guidelines only address long-haul COVID cases, but do not address when COVID-19 may meet the legal definition of disability.