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What is Long COVID?

Long COVID is a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health conditions people can experience four or more weeks after contracting COVID-19. People with COVID-19 get better within weeks of illness, but some people experience ongoing issues as a result of their infection. Long COVID symptoms vary from person to person and may be present for different lengths of time.

Long COVID can happen to anyone who has had COVID-19, even if it was a mild or asymptomatic infection. Some data reports that approximately 10% – 30% of those with COVID-19 continue to experience symptoms weeks and months after their initial diagnosis. Some of the most common symptoms include fatigue, chest pain, shortness of breath, muscle weakness, anxiety, or depression.

Many patient groups and researchers are working on studies to better understand the root cause of Long COVID and how to treat it. Recovery time varies between people, but rehabilitative and therapeutic approaches can help alleviate symptoms for people with Long COVID.

In addition to its medical impact, Long COVID also has social and economic implications, particularly for populations already disproportionately burdened by health inequity. Fatigue and pain can affect mobility, concentrating at work is harder with brain fog, and anxiety and depression can alter one’s outlook on life. The Test & Trace Corps’ AfterCare program is here to support New Yorkers with Long COVID by connecting them with resources that meet their health and social needs.

What are possible symptoms?

People with Long COVID encounter a range of new or ongoing symptoms in the weeks or months after first contracting the COVID-19 virus. Individuals commonly report experiencing different combinations of the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Difficulty thinking or concentrating (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Headaches
  • Changes in smell or taste
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Chest or stomach pain
  • Changes in period cycles
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Pins-and-needles feeling
  • Symptoms that get worse after physical or mental activities
  • Sleep problems
  • Dizziness on standing (lightheadedness)
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)

What is the difference between COVID-19 and Long COVID?