Even among persons with milder outpatient illness, COVID-19 can result in prolonged illness, according to research published in the July 24 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Mark W. Tenforde, M.D., PhD, from the CDC COVID-19 Response Team, and colleagues conducted telephone interviews with a random sample of adults aged ≥18 years with a first positive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 at an outpatient visit at one of 14 academic health care systems in 13 states.
The researchers found that at the time of testing, 94 percent of the 292 respondents reported experiencing one or more symptoms; by the date of the interview (median, 16 days from testing date), 35 percent of symptomatic respondents reported not having returned to their usual state of health, including 26, 32, and 47 percent among those aged 18 to 34 years, 35 to 49 years, and ≥50 years, respectively. At the time of the interview, 43, 35, and 29 percent of the respondents who reported cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath, respectively, at the time of testing continued to experience these symptoms.
“Public health messaging should target populations that might not perceive COVID-19 illness as being severe or prolonged, including young adults and those without chronic underlying medical conditions,” the authors write.
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