This week we’re attempting to figure out how much of an impact COVID19 will have on the country in general and workers’ comp in specific. That requires:
- estimating the number of people infected;
- determining how deadly it is;
- assessing our ability to contain it;
- evaluating other health effects of the disease; and
- knowing if and where and how much liability will be assigned to workers’ comp.
Big caveat here – as one of the articles cited below notes and as is true for pretty much everything you read about COVID19 (including this post), physicians interviewed “are speculating with much less data than is normally needed to reach solid clinical conclusions.” COVID19 is so new and so little is known that there’s very little credible research. What we’re relying on are ‘reports from the battlefield”, information from the front lines that’s coming in real time, not careful, methodological, rigorous research using controls.
Another caveat, from the LATimes –
Patients with disorders that affect the heart, liver, blood and lungs face a higher risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19 in the first place. That makes it difficult to distinguish COVID-19 after-effects from the problems that made patients vulnerable to begin with — especially so early in the game.
But for now, this is all we have. The faster we collect and assimilate information, the more able we will be to respond quickly and with the right solutions.
Broadly speaking, the physiological effects seem to vary widely between victims; women seem to fend off the virus better then men; and people with pre-existing conditions, especially hypertension, appear to be at particularly high risk. The recovery process, which at first seemed pretty straightforward (lungs get better after intubation) even for those on ventilators, appears to be more complicated and take longer than originally thought.
One study indicated some patients with relatively mild cases appeared to have significant warning signs of long-term health effects – in this instance impaired liver function. Another study noted cardiac issues post-discharge, and a nephrologist at Yale’s School of Medicine reported that almost half of “the people hospitalized because of covid-19 have blood or protein in their urine, indicating early damage to their kidneys…”