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Long before 'long COVID,' chronic illness plagued many Americans


For now, Omicron and its subvariants are the dominant COVID-19 strains globally.

And because an Omicron infection typically causes less severe disease, many Americans experience mild fatigue and a cough, for example — then it dissipates. But for some people, COVID-19 never really goes away.

So-called “long COVID” is a phenomenon scientists are only beginning to understand. Studies estimate 10 to 30% of people infected with COVID-19 may develop symptoms that can last for months, or years, after the initial infection.

But even before COVID-19, chronic illness has been impacting millions — in 2018, more than half of American adults had at least one chronic condition, according to the CDC.

Author Meghan O’Rourke has spent years struggling with chronic illness and all the unexpected complications, from being misdiagnosed to being dismissed as a hypochondriac.

We sit down with O’Rourke to discuss her new book and how "long COVID" plays into America's complex relationship with chronic illness.


Meghan O’Rourke, editor of the Yale Review, poet, and author of “The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness

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Jesse Steinmetz is Producer of Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Before joining WFAE in 2019, he was an intern at WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut and hosted a show at Eastern Connecticut State University.