Studies have shown that many people infected with COVID-19 may experience long-term effects. Learn how to help your team manage all stages of virus symptoms.

Employer Solutions | 6 months ago

Could Your Workers Be Suffering from the Long-Term Effects of COVID-19?

Studies have shown that many people infected with COVID-19 may experience long-term effects. Learn how to help your team manage all stages of virus symptoms.

Several studies have shown that 15% to 25% of individuals infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may experience long-term effects. While the infection usually lasts 10 to 14 days, new and different symptoms can manifest 2 to 5 weeks after the initial onset of COVID-19. These symptoms are even possible in people who were initially asymptomatic (had no symptoms) and who weren’t officially diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing.

Know the symptoms.

In addition to common lingering symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, cough and labored breathing, there are several other conditions that can affect workplace safety and an individual's daily life weeks after a person contracts COVID-19.

  • Brain fog or changes in mental function – Your employees with this long-term effect of COVID-19 may notice impaired concentration or rapid mood changes. To an observer, this worker may simply look like they’re slacking on the job.
  • Lack of grip strength – Even if the employee doesn’t experience overall weakness, they may lose some of their grip strength.
  • Impaired heart or lung function – The employee may experience chest pain or shortness of breath. However, even in those who are not experiencing symptoms, imaging can show abnormalities in their lungs or heart, which may limit function greatly or impair their ability to perform physical tasks.

This is more than a health issue. It’s a safety concern.

 These and other delayed symptoms of COVID-19 can pose a serious safety risk in the workplace. Unexpected physical and mental impairment can be especially dangerous in a manufacturing setting.

  • Employers are advised to monitor all employees for changes in productivity, behavior, mood and mental function. If an employee is experiencing symptoms, encourage them to speak with a primary care provider, even if they have never tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Employees who experience these symptoms or feel like something just isn’t right should take action and speak with their primary care provider immediately. “Toughing it out” is not a good idea, and continued physical exertion could cause additional harm and put an employee and their co-workers in danger.

What to do – and what to expect.

First of all, the symptoms may not always be obvious. They typically occur after an individual is no longer contagious with COVID-19. If an employee experiences symptoms, take action and seek attention from a primary care provider. Here are a few things to know:

  • A blood test may be performed to see if there are COVID-19 antibodies in the bloodstream. Note that if an individual has already received a COVID-19 vaccination, it will not be possible to determine if antibodies are from the virus or the vaccine.
  • The healthcare provider may prescribe a variety of treatments.
  • Symptoms may go away in a few months but could also last for a year or more.
  • We still don’t know all of the possible long-term effects of COVID-19. Experts continue to study how the virus affects people after they’ve recovered from the initial infection.

If any of your employees think that they may be suffering from post-COVID-19 symptoms or any other concerning symptoms, advise them to call their primary care provider or email Janet.Ruscingno@AtriumHealth.org to find a provider in their area. If they’re experiencing a medical emergency, they should call 911.