HHS-authorized report recommends masks, distancing for ‘long COVID’

Not this again.

Masks and social distancing should be mandated or encouraged in public to protect people from possible “long COVID”, according to a new report commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The report by the independent research agency Coforma, published Monday, was based in part on interviews with more than 60 people — including patients dealing with lingering COVID-19 symptoms, as well as their caregivers and health care providers. 

The recommendations included establishing public policies that purportedly protect “everyone from long COVID” – including the reinstatement of a mask mandate.

According to the document, 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.”

Assistant secretary for health Rachel Levine
Top HHS official, assistant secretary for health Rachel Levine, said helping long COVID patients was a priority for the Biden administration.
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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 report was “evidence of our commitment to engaging communities to provide patient-led solutions.”

President Biden
President Biden declared the pandemic “over” in September, but his administration has continued to request billions to fight COVID.
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In a statement to The Post Tuesday, a department spokesperson insisted that the report did not amount to a request by HHS to bring back mandatory face covering.

“A ‘mask mandate’ is NOT a recommendation HHS made,” the spokesperson said. “All the recommendations included in the report were derived from the research participants ([people with] Long COVID, their caregivers, health care providers, advocates, and other subject-matter experts.)”

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.

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