On September 19, 2022, the activist group #MEAction held a series of protests at and around the White House in Washington, DC, demanding that President Biden declare Long Covid and ME/CFS a national emergency with increased funding for medical education, research, and treatment. Despite knowing that participating in such an action would likely come with significant health risks or setbacks, dozens of activists with ME/CFS and Long Covid staged a die-in outside of the White House. Additionally, many more who are homebound or were unable to travel participated from home via social media and video feed (with #MEAction reporting that their tweets from the day were viewed more than a million times).
The #MillionsMissing action also occurred the day after President Biden suspiciously declared the pandemic “over” on 60 Minutes. Though protestors were not arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience as had been originally planned, their message of “still sick, still fighting” captured widespread attention nonetheless. This activism reverberated across many media outlets, especially in the wake of Biden’s remarks, with outlets like the New York Times and The Hill citing these protests as evidence of the ongoing struggles against both acute and post-viral Covid. —Harris Kornstein