Long COVID is highest in these states, says new CDC report

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The effects of COVID are lingering longer among the residents of some states than others.

That’s according to the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which tracks reported cases of long COVID throughout the U.S.

The highest prevalence of long COVID was found in West Virginia — where 10.6% of survey respondents reported experiencing long-term effects of the virus in 2022.

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In Alabama and Montana, long COVID cases were reported by 9.8% of respondents.

Other states with long COVID cases exceeding 8% included North Dakota (9.3%), Oklahoma (9.1%), Wyoming (9.0%), Tennessee (8.9%), Mississippi (8.7%), Iowa (8.3%), South Dakota (8.3%) and Utah (8.3%).

Long COVID is a condition in which symptoms of the virus persist for an extended period of time, generally three months or more. (iStock)

Overall, 6.9% of U.S. adults reported ever experiencing long COVID, the report stated.

In general, the highest prevalence of long COVID was in the South, West and Midwest, with the lowest reported cases in New England and the Pacific.

Obesity and vaccines play a role, doctor says

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, who was not involved in the CDC report, called for further studies into how long COVID is reported — including who reports it and the criteria they use to define their symptoms, which varies from region to region. 

Vaccine uptake clearly plays a role, as multiple studies have shown that at least three shots decreases the risk of long COVID significantly,” he told Fox News Digital.

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Underlying diseases represent another significant factor, Siegel pointed out. 

“We know that obesity, for example, increases risk of severe COVID dramatically, and severe COVID correlates with persistent symptoms and long COVID,” he said.

West Virginia

The highest prevalence of long COVID was found in the state of West Virginia, where 10.6% of survey respondents reported experiencing long-term effects of the virus in 2022. (iStock)

“In fact, obesity is the highest in the South and Midwest (over 35%),” noted Siegel, “and it is probably no accident that obesity is the highest in the country in West Virginia (41%), which also has the highest rate of long COVID.”

Data and limitations

The data for this report was gathered by phone from respondents who were at least 18 years old as part of the 2022 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a population-based cross-sectional survey, per the CDC.

The adults were all asked for their age, sex, previous COVID-19 diagnosis and whether they had ever experienced long COVID.

CDC logo

The CDC tracks reported cases of long COVID throughout the U.S. as part of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (REUTERS/Tami Chappell/File Photo)

In gathering this state-specific data, the CDC said it aims to “inform policy, planning or programming to support U.S. adults experiencing long COVID.”

There were some limitations associated with the study, the CDC noted.

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“BRFSS did not capture treatment during acute COVID infection, time since COVID-19 illness or duration or severity of symptoms, which could influence the reported prevalence of long COVID,” the agency wrote. 

“In addition, information about COVID-19 vaccination was only available for a subset of jurisdictions and is not included in this report.”

What is long COVID?

Long COVID is a condition in which symptoms of the virus persist for an extended period of time, generally three months or more.

Those symptoms can include fatigue, respiratory symptoms and neurologic symptoms (sometimes referred to as “brain fog”).

Tired man

The most prominent features are persistent fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, cough, and rapid heart rate or arrhythmias, according to Dr. Siegel. (iStock)

“Long COVID is still an ill-defined term, but for me, the most prominent features are persistent fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, cough, and rapid heart rate or arrhythmias,” Siegel added.

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Fox News Digital reached out to the CDC and the West Virginia Department of Health requesting additional comment.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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