Living with COVID-19, the long-haulers fight to return to normal

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Some folks have survived COVID-19, however an all-new I-Group investigation reveals the virus is threatening to kill their livelihood.

We’re not speaking about those that misplaced their job due to the pandemic.

These are individuals who have a job however haven’t been in a position to return to work as a result of months – even a 12 months later, they nonetheless have debilitating signs.

Our I-Group is digging deeper into COVID incapacity, particularly, if the so-called lengthy haulers might qualify for long-term advantages.

I discovered it’s a easy query, however with a sophisticated reply.

So we met Brandi Hood. She was feeling nice on her final day of college earlier than fall break. However two days later, she was sick, however not tremendous sick.

“They did a scan to substantiate it was COVID pneumonia, and I used to be shocked at that prognosis as a result of who will get pneumonia with no cough? I by no means coughed,” she mentioned. “COVID was just like the worst flu I’ve ever had. It lasted, I’d say, a couple of week. And I joke now that I miss the nice outdated days once I simply had COVID,” she mentioned.


COVID was the simple half, however what got here subsequent nearly killed her.

“I didn’t assume I used to be dying anymore in January. I didn’t really feel good, however I might, I might stroll just a few steps by then,” Hood mentioned.

The as soon as lively and wholesome Spanish instructor at Screven County Excessive College now makes use of a walker. She’s winded after just some steps.

“It’s a horrible feeling, not to have the ability to take a satisfying breath. It’s like drowning,” she mentioned.

She’s suffered many signs, had issues together with her imaginative and prescient, and even her hair has began to skinny out. Nonetheless, she says she’s grateful she’s a survivor.

“So, if the most effective you’ve ever felt health-wise was a ten… The place are you now with COVID, and the place have been you at your worst with the publish COVID?” I requested. “With COVID pneumonia, I used to be at a flat zero, and actually didn’t anticipate to outlive. And at this time, it’s arduous to say as a result of I’ve come up to now, and I’m grateful, however at this time day is a 4,” she mentioned.

“How many individuals have you learnt who died?” I requested.

“18. I can identify 18 individuals who have died of COVID,” Hood mentioned.

Greater than half-a-million Individuals, roughly the inhabitants of all the state of Wyoming, have died from COVID-19.

That variety of COVID infections is now round 30 million, or about the identical because the populations of Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Kentucky mixed.

These numbers don’t inform the entire story, although.

“Some folks need to say, ‘Oh, however my possibilities of surviving COVID are nice,” Dr. Phillip Coule, chief medical officer of AU Well being mentioned. “Demise is just not the one consequence from this illness.”

Dr. Coule sees different outcomes every day at AU Well being with sufferers like Brandi.

Proper now, the CDC acknowledges these long-term signs beginning with the commonest: fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint ache, and chest ache.

A whole bunch of Information 12 viewers echo that on this ballot I posted to my Fb web page.

The CDC lists “scent and style issues” as a number of the most critical points, however the I-Group couldn’t assist however discover what number of of you reported consistently smelling smoke, particularly cigarette smoke.

Others mentioned it was extra like a campfire or gasoline. These strangers discovered consolation in figuring out they weren’t the one ones experiencing these signs.

676 feedback in all, commiserating about all the things from listening to loss to hair loss to a metallic style and many mind fog, however Dr. Coule says lengthy hauler signs don’t cease there.

“We’ve got folks that have developed renal failure, so kidney illness, and mainly find yourself on dialysis for the remainder of their life,” he defined. “Individuals have strokes, coronary heart assaults are all immediately associated due to COVID. “

It’s why he says we are able to’t simply take a look at the mortality fee.

Coronavirus goes past simply life and loss of life. It leaves so many survivors like Brandi who’re locked in limbo.

“I actually can’t consider something in my profession, something in medication, that has such a profound influence on all these different organ and physique programs like this,” Dr. Coule mentioned.

Additionally unchartered territory: COVID lengthy haulers and long-term incapacity advantages.

A Congressional letter urges the pinnacle of the Social Safety Administration to look into the “long-term well being results of COVID-19,” together with the way it impacts “survivors’ skill to work.”

The I-Group discovered social safety workplaces face a backlog after workplaces have been closed within the pandemic. We discovered a 30 p.c drop in purposes.

We additionally discovered one other drastic drop of almost 50 p.c fewer incapacity claims awarded this January in comparison with the beginning of COVID within the US.

In March of 2020, the workplace awarded greater than 72,000 incapacity claims nationwide. The most recent information is from January of 2021 once they didn’t even attain 38,000. That’s rather less than half.

Specialists concern the system can be much more overwhelmed quickly as early research “indicating 10 to 30 p.c of COVID survivors could possibly be long-haulers.

“I might be shocked if we didn’t see numerous folks that find yourself claiming some sort of a incapacity standing,” Dr. Coule mentioned.

“Would you contemplate them disabled at this level?” I requested.

“You probably have any individual that was completely wholesome and strong and dealing, after which has gone by way of this sickness, and now actually can’t stroll to the kitchen and again with out being exhausted… then yeah, that individual’s not going to have the ability to maintain the identical form of employment that they did earlier than,” Dr. Coule mentioned.

Nonetheless, convincing the federal government or a non-public insurance coverage firm somebody has persistent fatigue isn’t a straightforward process since there are not any definitive exams or labs that show it.

There was a current push to check it, like this $7 million analysis grant, however because it stands now, even the CDC doesn’t checklist it among the many most critical problems.

So a lot of you report experiencing it as nicely, which brings us again to Brandi and Fb. She’s been speaking to Information 12 viewers on our thread as a result of she is aware of how a lot it helps.

Discovering others identical to her on a long-hauler group known as Survivor Corps has given her a whole lot of energy.

“That was so comforting to me. Not that they have been struggling, however that I wasn’t struggling alone,” she mentioned.

Survivor Corps is greater than a Fb group. It’s change into a grassroots motion.

A lot so, that researchers have taken discover and are particularly focused on how the vaccine impacts lengthy haulers.

One other potential downside forward for long-haulers making use of for advantages is that some don’t have documentation of a optimistic COVID take a look at. That’s as a result of they by no means acquired one.

Bear in mind in the beginning of the pandemic, exams have been scarce, so that they have been restricted to these being hospitalized.

So, some long-haulers may need bother proving they even had COVID within the first place.

However you’ll be able to try the Survivor Corps Fb group by clicking here.

Copyright 2021 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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