Opinion Editor’s Note: editorial represents the opinion of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently of the Newsroom.
With definitive historical accounts that endured until the 1918 flu pandemic, the rearview mirror offers unexpected yet valuable insight into a problem that plagues our time: the alarming labor shortage. .
Laura Spinney’s book Pale Rider debuted in 2017, 99 years after the “Spanish Flu” took over the world and three years before COVID-19 brought the world to a halt in 2020. Examine the short- and long-term ramifications of the 1918 pandemic.
If the past is the prologue, expect a baby boom to get you out of the current pandemic. Birth rates have recovered “amazingly” since the flu subsided a century ago, Spinney writes.If past patterns continue, the labor pool will be shallower than it should be for some time. .
The obvious reason for 1918 was the death toll from the pandemic. But policy makers today also need to be aware of the lingering health effects for many flu survivors. At the time, it was often called exhaustion or hopelessness. According to Spinney, “There is good evidence that the Spanish flu itself is a chronic disease that has adversely affected the health of some people for months or years after the first flu.
It looks like the COVID-19 pandemic has a sequel. A surprising number of people are battling COVID for a long time after their initial infection. It’s the informal name given to ongoing brain fog, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, and other symptoms. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Hospitalized patients are more susceptible, but even those with mild illness can experience prolonged COVID.”
A new report from the Brookings Institution provides a valuable public service by drawing a direct line from the long-standing COVID to the current labor shortage. It’s a sober read. Clearly, a continued national response is needed to protect public health and the economy.
The report came out late last month. One of his contributions is triangulating surveys and other data to come up with reliable estimates of how many Americans who have long had COVID are no longer working.
Information collected was obtained from the US Census, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, The Lancet Journal of Medicine, and other resources. The midpoint of the estimated range is “three million full-time equivalent workers,” or “his 1.8% of the total U.S. civilian workforce.”
This is a staggering number, but as the report points out, it is consistent with findings in other countries.Also, Harvard economist Recent Quote “Labor market participation is still about 1% lower than demographics predict,” it said.
The solutions outlined in the report are practical and include:
- “More speed, more funding, and more trials are needed to understand the long-term COVID (and other postviral disease) pathophysiology and identify treatments.” requires significant public funding, but should be seen as a necessary investment in a healthy workforce.
- Measures to keep people with COVID-19 in the workforce. This could include, for example, remote work options and flexible work schedules to help employees combat fatigue and other symptoms.
- Ongoing tracking of COVID and its impact on the workforce over time and ongoing evaluation of successful interventions to keep people suffering from this condition at work.
- Ensure that workers with long-term COVID-19 have access to medical care and, if needed, access to medical assistance programs so they can regain productivity. Minnesota is fortunate to have clinics that offer this treatment, but may need federal incentives to ensure there are enough healthcare providers with this expertise. .
Legislators also have a role to play. Unfortunately, Minnesota legislators missed their chance in the final session to enact the Starter Long COVID Package to implement oversight and identify ways to help struggling families. passed the House of Representatives, but fell victim to a post-sessional disagreement with the Republican-controlled Senate over health and welfare financing.
That mistake must be corrected. Lawmakers should also tap into Minnesota’s world-class healthcare providers and employers to improve the state’s response. All too often, this pandemic has induced the wrong choices and redirected COVID measures to economic growth. Both historical and contemporary data suggest that these complement rather than offset each other.
Editorial board members are David Banks, Jill Burcum, Scott Gillespie, Denise Johnson, Patricia Lopez, John Rash, and DJ Tice. Star Tribune Opinion staff members Maggie Kelly and Elena Neuzil also contribute, and Star Tribune publisher and CEO Michael J. Klingensmith serves as advisor to the Board.