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The Sick Times

“It’s not mysterious. A highly contagious airborne virus has spread around the world for the past four years and continues to infect people as I write. SARS-Cov-2 has killed an excess of 23 million people worldwide and plagued over 65 million people with Long Covid and other associated conditions.  Chronic illness advocates warned us about the danger of viruses at the beginning of the pandemic, stating how past infections led them to develop myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), dysautonomia, mast cell activation syndrome, and many other diseases and conditions. The science of viral infections is extensive and clear: many can cause post-acute sequelae that can spark immediately, while others take years to decades after the acute infection to develop. We know Epstein-Barr virus can lead to Multiple sclerosis (MS), human papillomavirus causes cervical cancer, and of course, that untreated HIV leads to AIDS. It is no surprise that a virus as deadly as SARS-CoV-2 would lead to one of the largest mass-disabling events in modern history.  Yet, as we enter the fifth year of the pandemic, our government, public health agencies, and media continue to downplay or ignore Long Covid, a disease that recent studies have shown to have a quality of life worse than some end-stage cancers. We also know it can be fatal. Many people with Long Covid have described it as a “living death”, a phrase I continue to use after living with a mild to moderate form of the disease for nearly four years. Still, there are no cures, established treatments, financial support, or incoming research funding despite the risk of Long Covid increasing with each COVID-19 infection. Instead, pwLC deal with skepticism, incredible stigma, and harassment. While there has been profound reporting on Long Covid in some mainstream newsrooms, I’ve found that most journalists fail to understand the complexities of Long Covid. As a journalist, it has been particularly disappointing to watch many of my colleagues spread mis- and disinformation about Long Covid while ignoring mountains of research, other infection-associated illnesses, and the lived experience of patients. Legacy newspapers continually downplay the disease and its severity, stating it lasts for “months or longer” when we know it lasts for years (with concurrent diagnoses that we know can be lifelong and have no cure.) Whether it is their own ableist bias that determines this coverage or something more nefarious, it’s clear that it is now time for a newsroom that exclusively covers Long Covid. My co-founder Betsy Ladyzhets and I are proud to announce The Sick Times, a new digital newsroom chronicling the Long Covid crisis.”

See also The New York Times [unlocked] – Can’t Think, Can’t Remember: More Americans Say They’re in a Cognitive Fog. Adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s are driving the trend. Researchers point to long Covid as a major cause.

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