Understanding Long COVID: What Does this Mean for Employers in 2024

It’s been several years since the pandemic began, and we’re still unraveling the short and long-term health effects of COVID-19. While some recover within weeks and return to work, others experience ‘long COVID.’ The CDC states that more than 7% of American adults, or one in five, suffer from it. Common symptoms include persistent fatigue, fever, breathing difficulties, ongoing coughing, sleep disturbances, headaches, depression or anxiety, altered smell or taste, pins and needles sensations, and brain fog. Although specific treatments for long COVID are limited, you and your healthcare provider can develop a personalized plan based on your symptoms.

The July 2022 household pulse survey revealed that 16.3 million working-age Americans were affected by long COVID, impacting their work capacity. Some employees, even if able to return to work, cannot perform at full capacity. This condition may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, affecting job performance, particularly in roles involving manual tasks, deep concentration, writing, or operating heavy machinery.

Employers need to be mindful of the impact of long COVID on themselves, their managers, or team members. While most studies focus on the broader impact of COVID-19, specific statistics from the Center for Construction Research and Training show that over half of construction small businesses reported reduced work hours at the pandemic’s onset. By April 2022, 17% still reported reduced hours, and nearly two-thirds (63%) noted a moderate to large negative effect of COVID-19. In 2024, long COVID is still impacting the Alaskan workforce, and employers need to ask if it is impacting themself and assess how they can be prepared for this going into this January. 

Long COVID’s impact on respiratory function and cognitive clarity is significant, especially in safety-critical industries. Those recovering from COVID-19 should continue undergoing assessments, possibly including additional physical or respiratory tests. If your company is tackling COVID-19 challenges, we offer company-level testing. Contact us for setup assistance or to discuss modern COVID-19 policies for your employees and organization in 2024. Visit our company’s COVID testing page for more information here.