CHRT study cited in Second Wave article on long COVID impact on Michiganders
As of May 2022, a CHRT study found that more than 700,000 Michiganders are living with long COVID, the lasting symptoms of COVID infection. Second Wave Media’s article “Researchers seek solutions for Michigan’s 700,000 COVID long haulers,” written by Estelle Slootmaker, cites CHRT’s research on long COVID and its impact on individuals, the state, and health care systems. The author interviews Jonathan Tsao, research and evaluation project manager at CHRT.
Among “COVID long-haulers,” common symptoms include brain fog, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, depression or anxiety, and digestive difficulties. As outlined in the CHRT study, these symptoms affect the professional lives of long haulers, resulting in major economic burdens for families.
“There was a significant difference between long haulers in their financial situation compared to [those who do not have long COVID],” says Tsao. “There are two main reasons for this. One is their decreased ability to work at a full capacity. They are more likely to work reduced hours, quit their jobs altogether, or get laid off — and they would be more likely to miss out on a promotion. And they have to deal with increased medical costs.”
As disability insurance does not cover long COVID, many employees face unfair workplace expectations without protection. Paired with the lack of research and awareness surrounding the condition, policy action may be needed to accommodate individuals dealing with long-term symptoms of COVID.
“We suggest policymakers increase awareness and make it easier for workplaces to make accommodations for long haulers,” Tsao says. “Long COVID is one of those outcomes that’s going to require more study and research to understand. Our health systems, research centers, and the National Institutes of Health are establishing programs specifically to look at the ongoing impacts of COVID and long COVID. The reality is that we don’t know a lot about the cause and effect.”
CHRT’S STUDY MAIN FINDINGS ARE:
- More than one in every three of the Michiganders surveyed who reported a COVID-19 diagnosis identified themselves as COVID long haulers
- Women and people with diabetes were more likely to report long COVID
- The three most common symptoms of long COVID reported were breathing issues, lost or distorted sense of smell or taste, and lingering anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues