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UM researchers look at long-term consequences of COVID-19

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

COVID-19 appears to result in lasting physical symptoms, mental health problems, and economic stressors. 

That’s according to researchers at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, who collaborated with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to interview 638 people who contracted COVID-19 last spring. 


At the time of their interviews, between June and September, one in four of those participants still hadn’t fully recovered.


Nancy Fleischer, a professor of epidemiology at UM, says many of them still had physical symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath; many were also struggling with their mental health.


“More than half of our population reported that they had worsened levels of stress and mental health since the COVID-19 outbreak,” she said. 


Fleischer acknowledges that many factors — not just a COVID diagnosis — might explain the depression and anxiety. But she says the mental health questions in the interviews came from surveys used in other settings throughout Michigan and the U.S. 


That will allow the researchers to compare people who did get COVID to people who didn’t when looking at mental health issues during the pandemic. 


This report is the first in a series, and future reports will go into more detail. 


For example, Fleischer’s team plans to study how COVID-19 has affected people of different races and income levels over time.


Editor's note: The University of Michigan holds Michigan Radio's license.

Will Callan, a reporter for Michigan Radio, hails from the Bay Area, where he lived in Oakland and San Francisco and reported for local newspapers and magazines. He enjoys a long swim in chilly water (preferably followed by a sauna) and getting to know new cities. That's one reason he's excited to be in Ann Arbor, which he can already tell has just the right combo of urban grit and natural beauty to make him feel at home.
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