“It’s estimated that as many as 16 million working-age US adults were living with long Covid by August 2022, and that number continues to grow. And yet, because this ailment is so misunderstood and often dismissed, people who have become disabled and chronically ill due to long Covid are fighting for the support and resources they so desperately need.” -Emily Ladau
We lost so much to Covid—it’s indisputable. But in our rush and desperation to return to “normal,” it’s harder to see, or perhaps acknowledge, that we’ve also lost the accessibility and social safety net wins the pandemic brought along the way.
Because despite Covid no longer being a public health emergency, it is far from “over,” especially for many marginalized groups, those experiencing long Covid chief among them. “Society would rather collectively push Covid aside as a bad memory than acknowledge its long-term implications,” says Emily Ladau, a disability rights activist and the author of *Demystifying Disability. “But there’s still a crisis here.”
In the articles below, curated and annotated by Ladau, you can explore the stories of those feeling not just left behind, but left out to dry.
“Government and medical institutions are letting people who are experiencing long Covid fall through the cracks,” says Ladau. “And that’s to the detriment of everyone. We should care about advocating for support and solutions for the sake of a safer future for all of us.”
Image by Fotoeventis / Getty Images
EL: “You might be tired of talking about the pandemic and its lasting effects. You might think we need to just ‘get over it’ and ‘go back to normal.’ But that’s not reality for so many people–especially those with multiple marginalized identities.”
EL: “There are over 1 billion disabled people around the globe, and that number is growing significantly because of long Covid. But for many people, grappling with the concept of identifying as ‘disabled’ can be challenging because of the stigma that society attaches to it.”
EL: “People of color are already at a stark disadvantage due to the biases and discrimination they encounter when seeking medical care. These disparities are directly contributing to more long Covid cases and untreated symptoms among Black and Hispanic patients.”
Revolutionizing the Workplace: Why Long COVID and the Increase of Disabled Workers Require a New ApproachAmerican Progress
EL: “As the number of disabled people continues to increase due to long Covid, it’s essential that workplaces become more accommodating and accessible to retain employees. The silver lining? Accessible workplaces are better for everyone, whether you identify as disabled or not.”
EL: “Now that Covid ‘no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern,’ vulnerable populations are bearing the brunt of the impact—and that’s not okay.”
EL: “Disabled and immunocompromised people have places to go and people to see just like anyone else. And yet, travel poses a huge risk, with few resources available for improvement.”
EL: “Protestors pushing for long Covid research, support, and solutions are powerful voices within the broader Disability Rights Movement. It’s up to all of us to listen and amplify.”
EL: “Long Covid patients continue to wait for solutions. We cannot leave them behind.”
A look back at Ladau's 2022 Pocket Collection, exploring how ableist language holds us back from not only having more productive conversations about Covid, but developing more effective policies to confront the pandemic.
Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant whose career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability. Her writing has been published in outlets including The New York Times, SELF, Salon, Vice, and HuffPost and her first book, Demystifying Disability, was published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in September 2021. Emily has spoken before numerous audiences, from the U.S. Department of Education to the United Nations. Central to all of her work is a focus on and harnessing the power of storytelling as a tool for people to become engaged in disability and social justice issues.