Long-hauler says lingering COVID symptoms have left him jobless, disabled and nearly homeless
Long-haul COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the lives of about 9 million Americans.
Advocates say there's little to no help to ease the financial burden of this debilitating condition.
Mike Heidenberg was once a college academic advisor, but catching COVID in the early days of the pandemic changed everything.
"I was known for my memory. Then all of the sudden I couldn't remember even my students' names anymore," he says.
While the traditional symptoms of COVID subsided, new mysterious conditions popped up.
"A whole cascade of symptoms started - heat intolerance, exercise intolerance, changing positions was hard, standing my pulse and blood pressure would go crazy," he says.
The White Plains man is one of the estimated 9 million Americans with long-haul COVID, and the lingering symptoms that have persisted for 20 months have left him jobless, disabled and nearly homeless.
"When I say we are going to have to sell our apartment, I don't know where we are going to go. I don't know what we are going to be able to afford," he says.
That's because COVID unemployment benefits ended, and long COVID isn't recognized as a qualifying condition by Social Security disability, Medicaid or unemployment.
C-19 Longhauler Advocacy Project released an open letter to the president and congressional leaders this week calling for the formation of a Long COVID Assistance Program and a task force.
Heidenberg says his condition prevents him from returning to work.
"I love my job, and I want nothing more than to get back to it," he says.
He hopes there will soon be help so he can focus on his recovery and returning to a normal life.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help with Heidenberg's financial struggles. So far, it has raised $21,000.