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April 13th, 2021

Andrew Yang Announces Policy to Care for NYC’s COVID-19 Long Haulers

**RELEASE** April 13th, 2021

Today, Andrew Yang, Democratic candidate for Mayor of New York City, stood outside Elmhurst Hospital with health experts and community leaders announced how his administration would provide continued care for “long-haulers” suffering from long-term COVID-19 effects.

New York, NY Said Andrew Yang, “There have been 885,000 total cases of COVID-19 in NYC, and nearly 32,000 deaths. But one thing we haven’t talked about enough is that for those fortunate enough to survive the virus, there are serious lasting effects. Roughly 10% of Covid-19 patients experience significant symptoms lasting longer than 3 weeks – sometimes months. These ‘long-haulers’ will need help with the lasting effects of this disease, including mental, physical and emotional support.”

Andrew Yang announces Policy for COVID-19 Long Haulers

Andrew Yang was joined Tuesday morning by Executive Vice President of Korean Community Services Myoungmi Kim, Director of the Tamang Society Chhemang Tamang, and Dr. Erik Bluttinger to discuss the ways in which the city could do more for those New Yorkers suffering from long-term effects of the disease.

A small number of individuals suffering from Covid-19, sometimes referred to as “long-haulers,” will experience symptoms lasting far longer than the typical 2-week duration for mild illness. Roughly 10% of Covid-19 patients experience significant symptoms lasting longer than 3 weeks – months in rare cases – presenting a serious challenge for healthcare providers and policymakers. Although the NIH recently launched a new initiative to better understand these post-acute residual effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), there are few comprehensive studies of persistent Covid-19 symptoms in the medical literature.

Continued Andrew Yang, “As Mayor, my administration will work closely with the local medical community, patients, researchers and the federal government to classify long haulers so that we can screen and identify those still suffering. We’ll also create a voluntary City registry, like we did after 9/11 to identify survivors of COVID-19 and connect them to lasting support. Lastly, we will expand the city’s treatment centers while expanding mobile clinics and telehealth options to ensure that marginalized communities have access to care.”

Recently, the city recently announced an Aftercare program, using NYC Test & Trace Corps to engage people who had or were suspected of having COVID-19, but more can be done. As a COVID-19 survivor himself, Andrew Yang will listen to the experts, doctors and scientists as medical knowledge evolves on the complex consequences of COVID-19.

Andrew Yang’s plan to care for COVID-19 long haulers includes: 

Better Understanding the Epidemiology. A Yang administration will encourage studies at both public and private hospitals via a targeted grant program, encouraging screening for persistent COVID-19 symptoms as part of the application process for city social services, and at medical visits where appropriate for anyone who tested positive for COVID-19. The Yang administration will support efforts to educate primary care providers about the phenomenon and connect them with City resources. We will also encourage local health departments to contact COVID-19 survivors at intervals after recovery.

Yang will also seek federal funds to support such studies, collaborating with national and international bodies to define consensus. 

Improving Treatment. A Yang administration will fund the creation of dedicated post-COVID-19 treatment centers with co-located specialists in communities of need, some of which are already popping up at hospital systems, currently through three COVID-19 Centers of Excellence.

Treatment of persistent COVID-19 symptoms often requires frequent interaction with healthcare professionals. This may be challenging for individuals who can’t take time off of work or who don’t live close to their providers. Symptoms may also involve psychiatric symptoms that make it challenging to travel or hard to seek treatment because of stigma. Specialists like neurologists may also be concentrated in inconvenient locations. By expanding on these post-COVID-19 treatment centers, a Yang administration will coordinate efforts across the city as part of a larger practice of care. We will also advocate for reform of telemedicine laws to improve access to remote care, in particular psychiatric services.

Ensuring Insurance Coverage. Treatment of persistent COVID-19 could be very costly or patients (no federal law currently requires insurers to pay for Covid-19 treatment). Currently uninsured patients and those with high-deductible or catastrophic plans will face high out of pocket costs. To ease the financial burden on these patients, a Yang administration will:

  • Offer free assistance enrolling those suffering from persistent COVID-19 in insurance and finding appropriate plans via a Helpline.
  • Provide financial support in the form of deductible and co-payment assistance.
  • Vigorously enforce pre-existing conditions protections.
  • Create a COVID-19 relief fund to facilitate financial support, which might also create incentives and financial relief in the event that a booster vaccine might be required each year forthcoming.

Chronic illness of any kind is a tremendous strain on patients and their support systems. Many individuals with persistent COVID-19 will experience neuropsychiatric symptoms that may act as additional stressors. To support long-haulers, a Yang administration will:

  • Create a Mental Health Corps that engages regularly with those suffering from persistent COVID-19.  We will implement and expand app-based check-ins, leverage telemedicine, and utilize community health centers for in-person visits, in addition to exploring the use of home visits and mobile clinics.

The Yang administration will also spur COVID-19 targeted clinical, biomedical, and public health research, and expand COVID-related social support services.

Read the full policy here.


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