Julia Maher ’23
Since the beginning of the pandemic and Trump’s subsequent politicization of mask mandates and physical distancing, America has seemingly become divided into two groups of citizens, more or less: those who proactively follow the scientific pandemic guidelines, and those who minimize the severity of the pandemic and follow unfounded conspiracy theories. Regardless of how people try to convince those who belong to the latter group, they never seem to budge. They are so brainwashed to believe that masks do not work, that the vaccine will carry a chip implant, and that the pandemic is merely a social experiment. There is very little hope that they will open their minds to the objective truth. In fact, there have been numerous cases of people who have contracted fatal cases of COVID-19 and, even on their deathbed, stated that they did not regret their actions, which upheld their “freedom.” This kind of bigotry is difficult to alter, but there is one point that seems to be less known about the COVID-19 pandemic—the long-haulers.
Individuals who contract “long COVID,” a condition in which they are ill for longer than one month, are also known as “long-haulers.” Despite some people’s belief that only a select few COVID cases are severe, long-haulers actually comprise 10 to 20 percent of COVID cases, meaning that those individuals will be ill with the virus for longer than one month. Moreover, 2.3 percent will be ill for longer than 12 weeks—in fact, some people have been sick since March, but doctors cannot do anything to help them. Although many people might believe that this only occurs among elderly populations, the risk factors include being aged 50 or over, being a young woman, and having excess weight, asthma, and more than five symptoms in the first week of COVID-19 infection, according to a King’s College London study. Also, those with long COVID commonly suffer long-term damage to the heart and lungs, which are severe complications with lasting effects.
With this knowledge of long COVID and the long-term effects of the virus, it is truly foolish to believe that the virus is no more than the flu. In fact, according to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, COVID-19 has killed more Americans since December 2019 than influenza has in the last five years combined. It is absolutely crucial that we all remain physically distanced and wear masks for the remainder of this pandemic until vaccination is possible to prevent excessive death. Hopefully this addition of information will cause people to evaluate their narrow perspective on the pandemic. And if people choose to turn a blind eye to these facts, then they can bask in their selfish ignorance and deal with the very real consequences.