sen. Tim Kaine, Longtime Covid-19, Introduces Bill to Help Long Trucks

US Senator Tim Kaine is all too familiar with the harrowing effects of Long COVID. And on Wednesday, the Virginia Democrat introduced legislation to help other Americans struggling with the same mysterious illness.

Kaine was diagnosed with COVID-19 nearly two years ago, but still suffers from moderate symptoms. And he’s not alone. Thousands, possibly millions, of Americans have faced health problems long after the infection. Because more research is needed and diagnoses remain inconsistent, it is difficult to estimate how many people are plagued by lingering effects of the virus.

The Comprehensive Access to Resources and Education (CARE) for Long COVID Act is Kaine’s solution. The bill, co-sponsored by Democratic Senators Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Ed Markey of Massachusetts, aims to expand Lung COVID research and improve access to treatment.
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“As someone with mild lung COVID symptoms, I am pleased to introduce this legislation to address the lingering effects of the coronavirus,” Kaine said in a statement. “This legislation will help improve our understanding of and response to Lung COVID by expanding resources for those dealing with the long-term effects of the virus.”

Long COVID still brings many unknowns. Researchers have yet to determine what causes it, and symptoms can vary drastically between patients. Even those who initially did not become seriously ill from the coronavirus have reported problems weeks, even months after being infected. People have reported symptoms ranging from cardiovascular problems to neurological effects, including so-called brain fog. Others have struggled with joint pain or prolonged fatigue.

If passed, the bill would create a centralized patient registry of confirmed Lung COVID cases to identify common data elements and collect a range of information about symptoms and experiences. Findings from the registry would be shared with other agencies to better inform treatment and policy regarding Lung COVID and other chronic diseases.

Other highlights of the bill include an effort to educate employers and schools about the impact of Long COVID on employment and disability rights. It would also partner with community health organizations to expand access to treatment.

The senators’ announcement comes just a day after President Joe Biden unveiled his plan to deal with the next phase of the pandemic during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

“We will be there to support Americans with the long-term effects of COVID-19, including those experiencing long-term COVID-19 or mental and behavioral health problems; as well as families suffering the tragedy of losing someone they love,” the Biden government’s Pandemic Preparedness Plan promises.

Markey, who co-sponsors the bill, was one of the few masked attendees during Biden’s speech at the Capitol on Tuesday night. The mask requirement was dropped just days before the joint session of Congress, and most lawmakers chose to embrace the change.

“As Covid safety measures relax and the number of cases falls, people are understandably eager to get on with the pandemic. But millions of Americans will be unable to move forward as they suffer the devastating effects of Long Covid. We can’t leave them behind, “Markey wrote on Twitter after the bill was announced.

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