Not this again.
Masks and social distancing should be mandated or encouraged in public to protect people from possible “long COVID”, a new Department of Health and Human Services report says.
The report, commissioned by HHS and published Monday, suggests a broad range of recommendations to help those dealing with lingering COVID-19 symptoms.
Establishing public policies that protect “everyone from long COVID” are among the recommendations – including the more controversial guideline to reinstate a mask mandate.
The report, which was produced by the research agency Coforma, says that jurisdictions dropping mask mandates some two years into the pandemic has made life difficult for those struggling with long COVID.
“The lifting of mask mandates and indifferent attitude towards masking and social distancing typical in many public and private places further isolates people with long COVID,” the report says.
“Many people with long COVID avoid public spaces and events due to a fear of reinfection and the potential worsening of their long COVID symptoms and health impacts. Some may experience PTSD symptoms as a result of trauma they incurred during their acute infection.”
As a result, the report says, policymakers should “encourage or mandate policies and protocols regarding masking and social distancing in public spaces that protect people from infection or reinfection and possible long COVID.”
While President Biden declared in a September “60 Minutes” interview that the “pandemic is over,” his administration asked Congress for an addition $10 billion last week to fight COVID, including $750 million specifically for long COVID.
“Listening to and learning from the experiences of long COVID patients is essential to accelerating understanding and breakthroughs,” said assistant secretary for health, Rachel Levine.
She said the new HHS report was “evidence of our commitment to engaging communities to provide patient-led solutions.”
Elsewhere, the report also called for vaccination to be promoted as a “preventative measure for long COVID”, as well as increasing awareness of how the condition can impact a person’s mental and behavioral health.
The short and long term recommendations included in the report were devised based on interviews with patients, according to HHS.
“Long COVID isn’t one condition,” Michael Iademarco, deputy assistant secretary for science and medicine, said in a statement.
“The Health+ Long COVID Report allows us to hear directly from patients so we can better understand the complexities of this multisystemic condition and enrich our understanding and response to Long COVID and its associated conditions.”