On April 8, 2022, President Biden issued a memorandum ordering his executive departments to take steps to combat the long term effects of COVID-19.
In particular, the memorandum focused on efforts to address the effects of “Long COVID.” The memorandum noted that “Long COVID” symptoms “can include anxiety and depression, fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, heart palpitations, disordered sleep, chest and joint pain, headaches, and other symptoms.” Further, the memorandum also acknowledged that “Long COVID” can affect a wide-range of people regardless of race, ethnicity, underlying conditions, or even severity of original infection.
The memorandum requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work with the heads of agencies as well private experts, organizations, and stakeholders to coordinate a government-wide response to “Long COVID.” Further, the Secretary must publish a public report within 120 days regarding government support services available or that will be available to those experiencing “Long COVID,” those experiencing loss because of COVID-19, and those who are experiencing mental health and substance use issues due to the pandemic. The report must also directly address disparities in these services available to underserved communities.
Additionally, the Secretary, along with support from the Assistant Secretary for Health, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Energy, and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, will release a National Research Action Plan within 120 days, according to the memorandum.
The research plan will be based on and will further develop existing research for the purpose of better understanding the effects, prevalence, and epidemiology of “Long COVID” amongst other issues. The plan will also include strategies for treating and providing high-quality services for “Long COVID” and for better understanding the way “Long COVID” affects different racial and ethnic groups and those with disabilities. Moreover, the plan will discuss improving data-sharing regarding “Long COVID” among agencies and other non-governmental researchers. Lastly, the Plan will “specifically account for the pandemic’s effect on underserved communities and rural populations.”
Reed Smith will continue monitoring developments on how this announcement may affect our clients as the report and research plan are released. Please reach out to the health care attorneys at Reed Smith if you have any questions on this or any other developments involving COVID-19 policy.