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Long COVID Is Keeping So Many Young People Out of Work



All that is to say: Many COVID symptoms can impact a person’s physical, mental, or emotional capacity to work. “If you have brain fog from long COVID, which makes it difficult for you to concentrate in a sustained fashion on anything, that could create difficulty in almost any job,” William Schaffner, MD, infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells SELF. People who have symptoms that are difficult to cope with—like chronic pain or fatigue—also “face a challenge, no matter what type of job they have,” he adds.

Diana Berrent Güthe, the founder of the COVID-19 education and resource center Survivor Corps, tells SELF that she’s seen this play out with plenty of the organization’s members. “One thing I can say for sure is people are having tremendous difficulty navigating the disability process,” she explains. “It’s complicated for lawyers, let alone anyone suffering from cognitive dysfunction, extreme fatigue, and tremendous pain.” (Under the American Disabilities Act, long COVID is not always considered to be a disability, and “an individualized assessment is necessary” to determine whether long COVID “substantially limits” a person’s life. Read more about that here.) 

Another major issue is that symptoms can come and go, which makes it hard for some people to predict when they’ll actually be feeling well enough to work. “This is a real shade of gray,” Güthe says. “They don’t know whether going to work on Tuesday may prevent them from going to work on Wednesday. People have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks.”

What should people with long COVID know about returning to work?

“Some people are so incapacitated that there’s no question of whether or not they can return to work,” Güthe says, adding that this can certainly lead to “financial trouble” for some folks.

However, she also stresses that there is hope for recovery. “I don’t want to be doom and gloom about this—most people do get better over time,” Güthe says, adding, “I’ve heard of a few very lucky people whose employers have been accommodating to the best extent possible but each person’s situation is as unique as their fingerprint.” 

People with long COVID have typically found that “working collaboratively with their employer to structure their return to work in a way that is manageable for them” is one of the best accommodations they can ask for, Andrew Wylam, a lawyer and the co-founder and president of Pandemic Patients, a nonprofit organization that supports people who have been impacted by COVID-19, tells SELF. “Gradual return to work is helpful, along with flexible hours and remote options,” he says. “People may want to return to work but they don’t want it to trigger their symptoms.”


Wylam says that it’s crucial for people with long COVID to “maintain open, constant communication with” their employer and supervisor about their symptoms and limitations. Of course, not every employer is flexible or even willing to make accommodations for people with long COVID. 

Source: Self

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