Long-distance Covid riders can also have a lasting impact on their finances. Here is a woman’s story
Laura Crovo still has some persistent Covid symptoms despite contracting the virus in April last year.
It’s been 10 months since Laura Crovo felt completely normal.
Since the 41-year-old Marylander tested positive for Covid last April, she has not yet shaken off all symptoms. And besides fighting them – mostly a racing heart (tachycardia), occasional fatigue, and persistent cough – she and her husband, parents of two children, are still paying off the thousands of dollars in debt they amassed last year have their persistent illness.
“I think you see a lot of people who get better in a week or two and that’s not necessarily everyone else’s,” said Crovo, who is far better than she was in the worst year when the job was impossible.
As so-called Covid “long-distance riders” like Crovo navigate the treatment options and the uncertainty that comes with long-lasting symptoms – i.e. when will they feel better? – You have to take care of the cost too. In addition to copays or co-insurance that may be required for a variety of tests, doctor appointments, and treatments, there may be a loss of income if symptoms are severe enough to prevent you from working.
“Symptoms sometimes appear well after the time of infection, or they develop over time and can last for months, ranging from mild to actually quite incapable,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Officer of the White House, in a briefing on Wednesday.
“The extent of the problem is not yet fully known,” said Fauci.
The National Institutes of Health this week launched the first phase of a research initiative to investigate why some Covid survivors are becoming long-distance drivers.
Exactly how many people end up in this category is difficult to know. One study suggests that around 10% of people infected have symptoms that last for weeks or months. Other research says the rate is closer to 30%. In either case, long-distance riders have little in common: some initially had mild cases of the virus, while others had a more severe version. Some had been hospitalized and some were not.
More from Personal Finance:
Credit scores are rising in the Covid crisis
Here’s why you need to report cryptocurrency to the IRS
How social security benefits are handled in the event of death
Crovo is among those who have recovered at home. She had tested positive for Covid in early April when little was known about the virus and treatment options were limited. To date, the virus has made more than 28.4 million people sick and caused around 509,000 deaths in the United States.
Crovos symptoms were typical: fever, cough, headache, fatigue, pain, etc. However, they did not go away as quickly as in many infected people.
With a fever that lasted 25 days, she was unemployed for four weeks. Fortunately, she said, her employer was accommodating and supportive. She was on sick leave even though she had been there for less than a year. At another point, she only worked part-time for two weeks.
“When I was sick, I was tied to the couch,” said Crovo. “Little things like washing dishes or simple housekeeping would blow my mind for a day.”
However, by late summer, Crovo still had symptoms – mostly tachycardia and extreme fatigue – that made it difficult for her to do routine tasks.
“When I lay down my heart rate was fine,” she said. “Then I would get up and it was like my heart was running a marathon.”
She applied for a short-term disability. Her insurance company refused her because her symptoms were too ambiguous and there was no formal diagnosis.
The only alternative was to take unpaid leave from work, with her employer promising her job would be there for her. She was away for three months.
“That was the biggest achievement for us,” said Crovo. “We had to dive into savings and I started using a credit card that I didn’t use often.”
Overall, there is significant cost to striving to cure her symptoms, she said when she consulted with a variety of specialists. She once went to physical therapy three times a week to help her heart stop working so hard, she said.
Now she’s trying acupuncture, and each appointment is $ 45. However, a drug she used to treat her symptoms off-label is no longer covered by her insurance and would cost $ 300 a month if she were to take it again.
Crovo said she thought acupuncture would help.
“I’m a lot better than last April, August or December,” she said. “I can get through the workday, which is good for me and our family.”