I realize last week, and probably this week too, will be The Omicron Week (had some thoughts about it here and here), but The Discourse™ still isn’t even mentioning ‘long COVID’: long-term, possibly permanent, disability due to COVID. As some asshole with a blog noted:
So a reasonable estimate is that five percent of those who have been infected with COVID are suffering from long-term disability. In the U.S., 26 million people aged 18-64 have tested positive for COVID (that would be about 12.5% of that cohort). Given the massive undertesting in many parts of the U.S. (but not D.C.!*), that probably should be at least fifty million. Five percent of that is, well, a lot of people. And that five percent (give or take) will be disproportionately found in certain sectors (haven’t seen any stories about the Great Lawyer Shortage, but I could have missed them…).
Now, you might wonder why that’s not reflected in other statistics, especially since the U.S. has a generous benefits system and doesn’t stigmatize disability, so…
Ok, then. Moving along…
While one can quibble with my numbers (and, of course, they could be higher–five percent might be conservative), the point still remains: there are a lot of workers who can’t work, or whose work options have become (very) restricted. We have to start dealing with this. We also have to stop with the kinder, gentler Greater Barrington Declaration crap some Thinky Thought Leaders are promulgating: a few million long-term or permanently disabled people is worth worrying about, especially in an America as broken and cruel as ours.
I was wrong about one thing in that post: we are starting to see it show up in official statistics, as Catherine Rampell shows (data from BLS):
To repeat myself, those data don’t include everyone, just those who are still considered employed, but unable to work. Many people with long COVID will not fall into this category as they might have left the workforce entirely (e.g., the figure could largely be short-term COVID illness; one problem is that detailed unemployment and disability benefits data really lag other statistics, when they’re even available).
The scientific literature hasn’t helped matters either: it’s really hard to glean what exactly is going on from many papers. Summary statistics, such as “2 or more symptoms” don’t really help (there are symptoms and then there are symptoms), and the glamour magz aren’t requiring authors to provide more information.
But this seems like something we really should be worrying about, yet public officials (in public health or others) aren’t even being asked about this, so this also is a failure of journalism.
We really need to start pestering our betters about this.
Related: While it’s unclear to what extent this is due to long COVID, the percentage of lower income workers missing work due to COVID (or caring for someone with COVID) is staggering, both among the unvaccinated and vaccinated.