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What to Know: Federal Long COVID Report

Estimates indicate between 7.7 and 23 million Americans are affected by Long COVID

November 23, 2022

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a new report this week outlining efforts to better understand Long COVID and the next steps to support patients.

The report offers short-term and long-term recommendations focused on the patient experience. It’s informed by more than 1,000 hours of interviews and workshops, and builds on a previous federal call to action for a government-wide response to the long-term effects of COVID-19.

“Listening to and learning from the experiences of Long COVID patients is essential to accelerating understanding and breakthroughs,” Dr. Rachel Levine, U.S. assistant secretary for health, said in a statement.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Two key factors:  The severity of symptoms (fatigue, malaise, hair loss, chronic pain, depression, etc.) and social determinants of health influence the “intensity and nature of the impact Long COVID has on people’s lives.”
  • Ideal path:  An ideal treatment journey would include access to a health care provider, efficient diagnosis of the condition, and referral to a Long COVID clinic.
  • Pain points:  “Convoluted paths” make accessing care for long-term COVID-19 symptoms more complex. Barriers to care include lack of insurance, incorrect or delayed diagnosis, lack of access to testing, and distance to Long COVID clinics.
    • “These barriers to care are difficult for anyone, but they are easier to overcome when a person has sufficient financial resources, time, health literacy, and extensive support networks. This unequal access to care can lead to a further increase in health disparities,” the report notes.
  • Opportunity areas:  The report highlights opportunities to improve quality of life for people with long COVID through public awareness, school and workplace considerations, research, and improving health system navigation.
  • Quotable:  “Long COVID will be around long after the pandemic subsides, impacting our communities, our health care system, our economy, and the well-being of future generations. We can reduce the severity and breadth of that impact, however, if we act collectively and urgently,” the report notes.

HAP will continue to monitor the latest COVID-19 public health developments and provide updates to members and the general public.

The report is available to review online.