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Long COVID and Emerging Variants

Nearly 1 in 5 adults who have had COVID-19 experience an ongoing condition referred to as “Long COVID.” Long COVID is defined by symptoms—like fatigue, difficulty breathing, brain fog, and joint or muscle pain—that continue after a person recovers from the initial infection and can last for weeks, months, or even longer.

For many people, Long COVID symptoms can be disabling and prevent them from returning to work. As of July 2021, Long COVID can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To learn more, visit Guidance on “Long COVID” as a Disability Under the ADA.

Symptoms of Long COVID

Image courtesy of National Institutes of Health

Symptoms of Long COVID vary from person to person and can affect almost any part of the body. To learn more about the areas impacted by Long COVID, view an interactive map of the human body.

VIEW MAP
Emerging Variants

SARS-CoV-2 variants occur when the virus mutates, or changes, as it replicates. This change creates a slightly different version of the virus. Occasionally, the change helps the new version of the virus (called a variant) survive better than the original virus. These variants become variants of concern. Variants of concern may be more contagious (spread more easily from person to person) or more virulent (cause more serious illness in people who are infected) than previously circulating strains of the virus.

Vaccines are an excellent way to help prevent new infections and help limit the development of new variants. As new variants continue to emerge, please check the latest information provided by CDC.

MYTH: COVID-19 vaccines cause variants.

FACT: Widespread vaccination can help prevent new SARS-CoV-2 variants from emerging. Vaccination can help prevent people from catching and spreading the virus. The fewer people who catch the virus, the less chance the virus has to mutate into new variants.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting slowdown of the world economy caused significant financial hardship. Early in the pandemic, tens of millions of people in the United States lost their jobs as the economy contracted. Employment began to rebound within a few months but unemployment remained high during 2020. Substantial governmental relief efforts helped during the summer of 2020, but significant unmet need remained at the end of 2021. Nearly 20 million households reported having too little to eat in the prior seven days and 10 million households reported being behind on rent. By early 2022, nearly 3 million fewer people were employed than before the pandemic. Fortunately, the economic recovery from the pandemic has been historic to prior episodes with employment recovering to pre-crisis levels much faster than after recent recessions. The post-pandemic economy is largely healed, and the groups that experienced the largest losses in the recession have recouped a substantial share of their losses. The overall number of jobs rose above pre-pandemic levels in August 2022 and the size of the U.S. economy is 5% over its 2019 level as of June 2023. While there is no doubt the economic hardship of the pandemic was real, we are fortunate to have experienced a positive rebound—this time.

Mortality/Morbidity

 Mortality/Morbidity Per the National Center for Health Statistics, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the United States of America (USA) in 2021. Between February 2020 and February 2023, the total excess number of deaths was ~1.3 million. The highest percentage of deaths occurred in the 65-and-over age group.

Per the CDC, as of December 2022, people ages 18+ who received an updated booster were 9.8 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated and 2.4 times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who had not received an updated booster.

In the United States alone, over 200,000 children have lost a caregiver to COVID-19. Orphans are more likely to experience poverty, abuse, delayed development, and reduced access to education. These impacts will affect our communities for many years to come. COVID-19 deaths are also leaving behind many spouses and partners who are struggling to maintain homes, raise children, and move forward with their lives after such a sudden loss.