Long COVID-19 and unemployment: A Greenbrier County man’s struggle to find help

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RAINELLE, WV (WVNS) — Melvin Jones survived a near-death experience with COVID-19 in December 2020. Now, like many COVID survivors, he is facing severe after effects that impact his ability to live a normal life.

Jones said he has pneumonia in his lungs and received a recent diagnosis of nerve damage from COVID-19, which prevents him from working. Despite reaching out to multiple financial welfare programs for help, he and his wife are without income.

“My doctor will not allow me to go to work because of my lungs,” Jones said. “He said my lungs are severely damaged, and I have to wait for clearance from him to go to work. I cannot get unemployment because I cannot go out and look for a job. Therefore, they will not pay me unemployment.”

According to the CDC, post-COVID conditions classified as “long COVID” can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jones said he reached out for disability assistance with no success.

His wife, Mariesa, told 59News she sells food once a month to create some income while her social security payments are on pause, but she struggles to find a way to find. She said they are in the process of trying to find COVID-19 legal assistance that is not readily available in West Virginia.

“We have applied for disability; he has gotten turned down for it,” Jones said. “We are in the middle of right now looking to get a lawyer, but they are telling us right now it needs to be a COVID pneumonia lawyer.”

Looking to the next few months, the Jones’ said they will continue to apply for assistance programs and speak to doctors to assess the seriousness of his long-COVID condition.

A study by the CDC found two-thirds of people who tested positive for COVID-19 experience long-COVID symptoms.

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