CHRT cited in State of Reform: long COVID’s effect on physical, mental, and financial health of Michiganders

May 26, 2022 | State of Reform

Melissa RibaJonathan TsaoState of Reform features CHRT’s research on the impact of long COVID in Michigan.

According to the CDC, long COVID—also known as post-COVID—is when “people who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 experience long-term effects from their infection.” CHRT classified long COVID in people “who have had COVID symptoms continue for weeks or even months after initial infection,” said Jonathan Tsao, Research and Evaluation Project Manager at CHRT and one of the authors of the study.

“Long COVID is still all so new and it’s all new territory. We’re still learning and understanding what the effects of the virus are on physical health, mental health well-being, and financial and economic well-being,” said Melissa Riba, Research and Evaluation Director of CHRT.  “We are seeing the intersection of long COVID, income disparities, and gender disparities.”

According to the report, Michiganders who identify as long haulers also suffer from financial hardships. Reports show that some long haulers are more likely to take medical leave, reduce their work hours, have their salaries reduced, or quit their jobs. This is because they are unable to function as they did before COVID. 

The main findings are:

  •  1 in 3 Michiganders with COVID-19 are “long haulers” or someone experiencing long COVID. Tsao said if you apply this data to Michigan COVID statistics now—not including COVID deaths—there have been a little over 2 million total cases, which would leave about 700,000 people who might have long COVID in the state. 
  • 15% of men and 55% of women identified as long haulers. The study also found that women are nearly 4 times as likely to report long COVID. Tsao said this matches the national research on women affected with long COVID. 
  • Michiganders with diabetes were 2 times more likely to report long COVID. In the study, individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk because the disease impairs the immune system and damages organs. 

“Depending on how many future cases of COVID exist, it likely could creep to a million or even exceed a million in the long term,” said Tsao.