Our Progress in 2022
Our journey began May 26, 2021, when we joined a growing number of public health experts and advocates who chose to dedicate their energy to finding solutions for the boundless problems created by the coronavirus pandemic. Our goal was to protect Americans against COVID-19, but our approach has evolved alongside SARS-CoV-2. Over time, we have established our reputation as a leading voice for people affected by long COVID.
In early 2022, our work gained new significance when people affected by COVID-19 began reaching out to us directly. People would frequently ask for help after becoming newly disabled from COVID-19, losing their ability to work, and being denied disability benefits. Requests for assistance increased alongside the growing recognition of long COVID as a chronic health condition. We helped patients and survivors navigate through complex challenges involving disability, education, housing, employment, and health care. We have spent countless hours providing assistance to people with no other place to turn.
This summer, we launched the Pandemic Legal Assistance Network (PLAN) to increase our capacity to deliver pro bono legal services to people affected by COVID-19. In cooperation with We The Action and the American Bar Association’s Center for Pro Bono, we now have a team of volunteer attorneys across the country generously donating their time and talent to provide skilled legal support to people affected by COVID-19 and long COVID.
Our volunteer attorneys have achieved life-changing outcomes for people affected by long COVID. The most common outcomes include:
- Appealing disability benefits after they were wrongfully denied;
- Implementing workplace accommodations for workers with disabling long COVID symptoms; and
- Initiating charges of disability discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
We also launched the COVID-19 Advocacy Center this year to enable patients and survivors of COVID-19 to connect with their elected officials to advance our national policy objectives. Every person we help has an important story to tell and we want to empower them to share it with policymakers at every level of government. By elevating the voices and experiences of people who have been affected by COVID-19, we are ensuring that policymakers enact laws and regulations that fully address the harm caused by the coronavirus pandemic. For example, this year in California, we supported the enactment of a new law to reduce the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 and advocated for workplace safety regulations to protect workers against occupational exposure to COVID-19. We achieved these goals by cultivating a community of activists who are passionate about our mission and giving them the tools they need to be successful advocates.
As our year draws to a close, we are celebrating our achievements and preparing to expand even further next year. I’m pleased to share our vision for 2023, which will build on our momentum to reach more people, change more lives, and bring us one step closer to a world free from the harm caused COVID-19.
Our Vision for 2023 Includes:
- Upgrading our COVID-19 Advocacy Center with integrated digital tools to increase the impact of our advocacy efforts. When we identify opportunities anywhere in the country that align with our policy priorities, our COVID-19 Advocacy Center will be the tool that drives progress. With the click of a button, you’ll be able to get involved and communicate with your elected officials through our website.
- Raising awareness about long COVID and the profound impact this condition will continue to have on American society through public awareness campaigns and grassroots advocacy efforts.
- Engaging with employers and the business community to educate them on their responsibilities to workers with disabilities under the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Recruiting additional attorneys to participate in our pro bono legal assistance network to increase the breadth of expertise we can offer to people who need legal support. This includes providing Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and specialized training for attorneys who volunteer with us.
- Publishing resources for people affected by long COVID, including a report elevating the experiences of people with long COVID who encountered challenges with employment, health care, and disability discrimination.
- Speaking at national events and conferences to share the significance of our work and the importance of implementing solutions to the challenges experienced by people who have been affected by COVID-19.
- Collaborating with state and federal policymakers to implement policy reforms that are responsive to the needs of people who have been affected by COVID-19.
- Expanding our staff to fortify our organizational capacity and foster continued growth.
Our vision is bold, but it represents an important next step in the evolution of Pandemic Patients. I know we can accomplish these goals with your continued support.