Long COVID Symptoms Among Americans on the Rise

2 min read

March 15, 2024 – Symptoms of long COVID are becoming more common among Americans.

The CDC says 6.8% of Americans recently reported having long COVID symptoms, and 17.6% say they’ve had long COVID at some point, according to the federal health agency's most recent Household Pulse Survey. 

The 6.8% is an increase from the October survey results, where 5.3% of respondents reported having long COVID symptoms. Not since November 2022 has the survey showed that high a percentage of people reporting having long COVID symptoms.

Health experts said the rising long COVID numbers are worrisome.

“This should be setting off alarms for many people,” David Putrino, PhD, the Nash family director of the Cohen Center for Recovery From Complex Chronic Illness at Mount Sinai, told The Guardian. “We’re really starting to see issues emerging faster than I expected.”

Dave Daigle, a spokesperson for the CDC, told the outlet that the “estimates represent just a snapshot in time,” making it difficult to identify things like recent surges, vaccination rates, new variants, and survey methods. 

The survey also showed regional differences. The highest long COVID rates were reported in North Dakota, Kentucky, West Virginia, Alaska, and Maine. The lowest rates were reported in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.

When the most recent Household Pulse Survey was done between Jan. 9 and Feb. 5, people were asked if their COVID-19 symptoms were lasting 3 months or more. 

Scientists haven’t been able to find out what causes long COVID, in which symptoms of the illness persist months or years after recovery. Extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of the sense of smell, and muscle aches are some of the most common symptoms.

The latest survey comes about 4 years after the World Health Organization declared COVID a global pandemic, and 2 weeks after the CDC updated its COVID isolation guidelines. The old CDC guidelines said people with COVID should stay home 5 days, while the updated guidelines suggest staying home at least 24 hours after symptoms have subsided.