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‘Can’t work at a desk’: What it’s like to be out of work with Long COVID

0 2 years ago

“I’m desperate to get back to work, but I still can’t work at a desk or talk for more than 20-30 minutes without needing to rest for hours at a time,” Charlie McCone, a 32-year-old based out of San Francisco, told Yahoo Finance. “I feel like people read things like that from Long COVID patients and think it’s an exaggeration, but I wish it were.”

That collective suffering — symptoms include fatigue, “brain fog,” heart palpitations, and autoimmune conditions — is affecting the economy: As many as 4 million individuals with Long COVID may be out of the workforce because of their symptoms, according to a new Brookings Institution report, suggesting that more than 2% of the U.S. labor force could be sidelined by Long Covid.

According to the Brookings report, “using the average U.S. wage of $1,106 per week, the estimated 3 million people out of work due to Long COVID translates to $168 billion a year in lost earnings. This is nearly 1% of the total U.S. gross domestic product. If the true number of people out of work is closer to 4 million, that is a $230 billion cost.”

Dr. Svetlana Blitshteyn, director of the Dysautonomia Clinic in Buffalo, New York, and a clinical associate professor of neurology at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine, has seen the workplace impact first-hand. She’s been studying Long COVID patients since 2020.


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