Letter: We can’t forget those disabled by COVID-19

Published: 5/16/2021 8:00:48 AM

Well over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, there is finally a light emerging at the end of the tunnel. In the U.S., more than one third of the population is now fully vaccinated, and overall hospitalization and mortality rates are declining. While caution is still needed, this is encouraging news. However, for many COVID-19 survivors of all ages and prior health statuses, there is no end in sight. A study from the University of Washington found that of 177 people who had COVID-19, 30% experienced persistent symptoms up to 9 months later. 8% of respondents reported difficulties completing activities of daily living, such as household chores. These so-called COVID-19 “long haulers” report ongoing fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, chronic pain, and exercise intolerance, in addition to cardiac and pulmonary dysfunction. Some long haulers have already received diagnoses like myalgic encephalomyelitis and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), two under-recognized conditions which commonly develop after other types of infections. Long haulers who are unable to work as a result of debilitating symptoms worry about their future employment, uncertain access to disability benefits, and lack of available treatments.While our country prepares for a hopeful return to relative normalcy, millions are experiencing new disabilities. They’ll need workplace accommodations, biomedical research, informed providers and government supports. We cannot forget that the pandemic’s devastating impact will be ongoing. We must ensure that our communities and government institutions do not leave behind those disabled by COVID-19.

Leah Stagnone

Litchfield




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