CDC: Two-thirds of Patients with Mild COVID-19 Get New Diagnosis within 6 Months

More than two-thirds of a large group of patients not hospitalized for COVID-19 made at least 1 outpatient visit and left with a new diagnosis within 6 months of their first diagnosis.

A new survey published April 23, 2021, in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly found that two-thirds of nonhospitalized COVID-19 patients had at least one outpatient clinic visit that resulted in a new diagnosis within 180 days of being diagnosed with the virus.

The study, conducted jointly by the CDC and Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, reviewed medical records for 3171 COVID-19 patients who did not require hospital admission within the first 28 days after their diagnosis.

Investigators found that 69% of the participants had at least 1 outpatient visit between 28 and 180 days after a diagnosis of COVID-19. More than two-thirds of those (68%) received a new diagnosis, eg, cough, dyspnea, throat or chest pain, and fatigue, which the report suggests “likely represent ongoing COVID-19 symptoms” and are consistent with other findings on patient-reported symptoms months after infection. Frequency of visits associated with these symptoms decreased after 60 days for many but form some persisted beyond 120 days.

For 10% of patients who had ≥1 outpatient visit, CVOID-19 was recorded as an active diagnosis.

The survey results are important as research on "long COVID" among persons who were not hospitalized or had mild acute or asymptomatic illness has lagged behind that on patients hospitalized for more severe illness. Other survey data are provided in the 2 slides below.