Long COVID, the term for cases in which symptoms persist for months or even years, is compelling some individuals to withdraw from the labor force entirely while a regular case of COVID-19 can keep people from working for a few days or weeks.
Approximately 16 million Americans who are working-age are thought to have lengthy COVID, according to Census Bureau data. According to a recent study on the disease’s impact on the nation’s labor force by the nonprofit Brookings Institution, between 2 million and 4 million of those adults are unable to work as a result of the condition.
Extreme exhaustion and fatigue, shortness of breath, mental or physical fog, headaches, muscle soreness, and other symptoms are all signs of extended COVID and can make it difficult for workers to perform their jobs. The illness has economic repercussions in addition to health consequences, with sufferers losing at least $170 billion in lost income annually, according to the research tank.
“We’re not using the proper risk calculations, is the warning. If we don’t get the scope of lengthy COVID, saying, “I’m not going to go to the hospital and die, I’ll be fine,” is not the appropriate time to think about it “The report’s author, Kathryn Bach, told CBS MoneyWatch.
The estimated long-term lost wages for COVID patients do not account for other expenses, such as medical care and reduced productivity for those who continue to work but at a reduced capacity.
The effects of Long COVID could also help to explain some of the country’s post-pandemic labor market shortages. Compared to February 2020, right before the economic shutdown that resulted in substantial layoffs and job cuts, the U.S. has around 600,000 fewer workers now.
“I wasn’t working,”
Climate scientist Alli Fish, 36, of West Tisbury, Massachusetts, contracted COVID-19 in October just before she was qualified for a booster shot. She continues to experience symptoms, such as weariness, vertigo, and brain fog, almost a year later.
Fish, a mother of a young child, had only recently begun working remotely as a climate and soil health scientist for the American Farmland Trust in Washington, D.C. She soon became aware that her capacity for work was diminished and that her health was getting worse.
Fish told CBS News, “By January, I was unable to perform simple chores that I had previously been able to accomplish, and it was all of a sudden extremely evident that I was not functioning anything close to my typical self.” “I was finding it difficult to focus, think, and retain some information.”
Fish began scheduling consistent rest breaks into her workdays as a coping mechanism, which her employer was open to. She reduced her hours as well, but her symptoms continued.
Taking consecutive Zoom calls and scrolling through papers on a screen didn’t help either. She completely ceased working in May.
It got to the point where she had to quit entirely because she couldn’t imagine ever feeling well and being able to go about her day without anxiety, she added.
One in five people who contract the coronavirus may experience long-lasting symptoms. 06:15
A portion of Fish’s income has been covered by the paid family and medical leave program in Massachusetts. The family’s reliance on her husband’s salary as the controller of a private club, however, will only be possible after the end of August when the support provided by the government expires.
We live in an expensive area, and we had not intended to be on one income with a child, so it has been difficult and will continue to be difficult, she added. We have undoubtedly suffered financially as a result of my loss of income.
No obvious cure
Beyond missing pay, those with lengthy COVID also incur extra expenses, specialists point out.
“One’s missed income is a huge problem, but there are also the medical costs because there is still so much unknown about long COVID,” said Carri Chan, a healthcare professor at Columbia Business School. “There is no obvious cure. It involves a lot of trial and error, which can be expensive.”
For instance, Fish still pays for her son’s daycare because she hasn’t fully recovered from COVID. She often receives acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, physical therapy, and other treatments in addition to her numerous medical appointments.
In addition to the loss of income, she claimed that her condition was causing her a great deal of financial stress.
As a skilled athlete, Fish is accustomed to battling through discomfort. She suggests the opposite course of action to other COVID-19 long transporters though.
“I’ve struggled so much throughout my life. As a former long-distance runner, I gave birth to my son using Pitocin without an epidural. I’m very gritted. But if I had just pushed through this, I would have been progressively worse, “said Fish. It was a pretty fantastic lesson that sometimes giving up is the best course of action.