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Covid leaves some with medical bills, job insecurity, lingering isssues

Welcome to the Covid Economy, CNBC Make It’s deep dive into how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting all areas of our lives, from food to housing, health care to small business. We’re focusing on North Carolina, a swing state that has seen rapid economic growth — and growing inequality — since the last recession to learn how residents are weathering the economic consequences of this once-in-a-lifetime health crisis.

Ann only let her guard down for an afternoon. After months of being careful and following social distancing guidelines, she got together with a friend over the Fourth of July weekend. The next day, that friend let her know they were feeling sick. Four days after that, Ann began developing symptoms, too. 

An HR manager based in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, Ann, who agreed to speak to CNBC Make It on the condition that she be identified only by her middle name to protect her privacy, scheduled a Covid-19 test on July 15. She received a positive result two days later. 

It’s been more than four months, and Ann’s still struggling to fully recover from the virus. But it’s not just her health that’s been impacted. She’s had to take an unpaid leave of absence from work, and despite having health insurance, she’s worried about the mounting medical bills.

During the nearly three weeks that Ann suffered from the worst effects of Covid-19, she was mainly isolated at home. “There was an entire week that I had to lie on my stomach for hours just to breathe without a crushing pain in my chest,” Ann says. “The vomiting and diarrhea were so unyielding that one day I contemplated just sitting in the tub instead of going back and forth to the toilet.”

At one point, Ann’s symptoms were so serious, she did go to the emergency room. Fortunately, her hospital stay was short, and she never had to be put on a ventilator. But even after the worst of her symptoms passed, her life has yet to return to normal. One of the rising number of so-called “long haulers,” Ann is still feeling the ongoing effects of the virus. 

“It’s just so weird to me to be someone who is healthy and in their thirties to have something just completely ravage you so hard that it affects every organ in your body,” Ann says. 

Costs of Covid-19 vary dramatically and can go beyond just medical bills

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