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Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Long COVID Continues as a Workplace Crisis

Long COVID continues to impact the lives of US workers. Millions of Americans live with long COVID and its many symptoms. These include fatigue, cognitive impairment (commonly referred to as muscle or joint pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sleep difficulties, mood changes, and more. With millions of Americans suffering daily, more must be done to address this crisis.

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member and former chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, attended the hearing. Senator Murray noted some of her recent efforts to tackle Long Covid and underscored the importance of Congress taking further steps to address Long Covid and help patients across the country. See the video above.

According to estimates from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, 16 million working-age Americans reported having long, and of those, 2 to 4 million are out of work due to Long COVID. For some, the change in job status can affect health insurance, which can further treatment options. The Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey reported that 16 million working-age Americans reported having Long COVID; 2 to 4 million are out of work due to Long COVID. For some, the change in job status can affect health insurance and workers’ compensation benefits, which can further treatment options.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), held a Hearing on Thursday, January 18, 2024, titled “Addressing Long COVID: Advancing Research and Improving Patient Care.” 

“The impacts of this pandemic are still being felt by millions of families,” said Sanders. “We cannot turn our backs on the American people who struggle with long COVID. At all levels of government, we must do more to address the health crises countless Americans are living through because of coronavirus. Lives are at stake. I look forward to hearing from patients, experts, and researchers about what we must do to address this crisis, advanced research, and patient care that so many Americans desperately need.”

Testimony of Ziyad Al-Aly, M.D. Clinical Epidemiologist Washington University in Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MO

"Long Covid represents the constellation of long-term health effects of COVID-19. Long Covid is a multisystem disorder that affects nearly every organ system, including the heart, the brain, the endocrine system, the immune system9, and the gastrointestinal system.


"Long Covid affects at least 20 million Americans. It affects people across the lifespan – from children to older adults. It affects people across race, ethnicity, and sex. The burden of disease and disability in Long Covid is on par with heart disease and cancer. Long Covid has wide and deep ramifications on the labor market and the economy – some estimates suggest that the toll of Long Covid on the U.S. economy is $3.7 trillion– on par with the 2008 recession.


"Recovery rates for many of the components of Long Covid are low. Some conditions that develop after COVID (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, etc.) are chronic conditions that last a lifetime. Some conditions including fatigue and brain fog seem to improve in a small fraction of people with Long Covid.

Testimony of Tiffany Walker, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine

“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a conservative estimate of 20 million U.S. cases ofLong COVID In fact, we have seen that 15% of those exposed to COVID-19 go on to develop long-term sequelae.


“We know that long haulers are more likely to be unemployed or work reduced hours, with one

estimate reporting nearly half were unable to work full-time due to the severity of symptoms and nearly a quarter were unable to return to work at all…..This level of disability also mirrors that seen in diabetes, for which $30 billion of indirect costs is spent annually on reduced employment due to disability.


“The duration of this disease remains unknown; however, there is mounting evidence supporting significant overlap between Long COVID and pre-existing infection-associated chronic diseases such as myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and dysautonomia, which are known to be debilitating and can persist in individuals indefinitely.9

The COVID pandemic is far from over. As workers continue to contract COVID-19, the consequences of Long COVID-19 remain a growing health and economic crisis for the workers’ compensation system. 


Gelman, Jon L.,  Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Long COVID, (2024).

Davis HE, McCorkell L, Vogel JM, Topol EJ. Long COVID: major findings, mechanisms and recommendations. Nat Rev Microbiol. Jan 13 2023:1‐14. doi:10.1038/s41579‐022‐00846‐2

Xie Y, Xu E, Bowe B, Al‐Aly Z. Long‐term cardiovascular outcomes of COVID‐19. Nat Med. Mar 2022;28(3):583‐590. doi:10.1038/s41591‐022‐01689‐3

Xu E, Xie Y, Al‐Aly Z. Long‐term neurologic outcomes of COVID‐19. Nat Med. Nov 2022;28(11):2406‐2415. doi:10.1038/s41591‐022‐02001‐z

Cutler DM. The Costs of Long COVID. JAMA Health Forum. 2022;3(5):e221809‐e221809. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2022.1809

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,  Long COVID's Continues as a Workplace Crisis, (01/24/2024),