coronavirus in nyc

NYC Launches Aftercare Program to Help COVID-19 Long Haulers

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What to Know

  • As New York City focuses on vaccination, the next step in the fight against the coronavirus, it is also addressing the reality lived by some who had COVID-19, but are still experiencing long-term effects.
  • While most persons with COVID-19 recover and return to normal health, according to the CDC, some patients can have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery.
  • With this in mind, the city announced Wednesday the launch of NYC AfterCare program by the Health + Hospitals Test & Trace Corps focused on the holistic care of New Yorkers experiencing the after effects of COVID-19.

As New York City focuses on vaccination, the next step in the fight against the coronavirus, it is also addressing the reality lived by some who had COVID-19, but are still experiencing long-term effects.

While most individuals with COVID-19 recover and return to normal health, according to the CDC, some patients can have symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after recovery. These individuals are sometimes referred to as "long haulers."

With this in mind, the city announced Wednesday the launch of NYC AfterCare program by the Health + Hospitals Test & Trace Corps focused on the holistic care of New Yorkers experiencing the after effects of COVID-19.

"Although a number of people had COVID and the disease, in the first instance, passed, a lot of New Yorkers are still feeling the effects of COVID months and months later -- and we've got to help them," Mayor Bill de Blasio said during his Wednesday coronavirus press briefing. "We've got to make sure that folks who are still experiencing negative symptoms, having really tough after effects of COVID, that we are there for them."

De Blasio went on to say that many of the long haulers, who may face effects for months and possibly even years ahead, are found in minority, immigrant and lower-income communities -- another sign of the disparity in terms of the pandemic having a greater impact in these communities.

The CDC reports that the most commonly reported long-term symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain

Additionally, other reported long-term symptoms include:

  • Difficulty with thinking and concentration (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”)
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Intermittent fever
  • Fast-beating or pounding heart (also known as heart palpitations)
Dr. Andrea Klemes speaks on the impact COVID-19 has had on mental and emotional health struggles during the pandemic.

More serious long-term complications appear to be less common but have been reported, the CDC says. These have been noted to affect different organ systems in the body. These include:

  • Cardiovascular: inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Respiratory: lung function abnormalities
  • Renal: acute kidney injury
  • Dermatologic: rash, hair loss
  • Neurological: smell and taste problems, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, memory problems
  • Psychiatric: depression, anxiety, changes in mood

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies continue with the hopes of learning more about the short- and long-term health effects associated with COVID-19.

The long-term significance of these effects is not yet known, the agency notes.

Dr. Amanda Johnson of Health + Hospitals and the city's Test and Trace Corps said that estimates point to 10 percent of individuals with COVID-19 will go on to develop long COVID, adding she has seen patients months from their acute infection still struggling with shortness of breath, chest discomfort, lightheadedness, cough, anxiety, depression and confusion that they didn't have prior to their COVID diagnosis.

Karla Mejia is the community organizer for the Violence Intervention Program, a group that supports victims of domestic violence.

"Things that were taken for granted before they became infected with COVID-19, like showering, getting up to go to the bathroom, dressing, preparing meals, leave them exhausted," Johnson said. "Many work in jobs that require quite a bit of physical labor...and they worry about what it would be like to go back to work while they are still feeling so ill and at the same time they are scared of what would happen to them if they don't go back to work."

NYC AfterCare connects Test & Trace clients to a wide range of referrals related to long COVID. The program will provide resources including primary care referrals, diagnostic testing, education, virtual support groups, support for accessing sick paid leave and information on how to conserve energy to manage day-to-day activities, among other necessities. The resources fall into four main categories:

  • physical health
  • mental health
  • financial supports
  • community supports

"We are going to be there for our fellow New Yorkers for as long as it takes," de Blasio said.

For more information on NYC AfterCare, click here.

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