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More Evidence of Cognitive Impairments from COVID-19

Don't let COVID-19 leave your fishing career stranded!

Commercial fishermen work in a dynamic and mentally demanding environment. Operating 24/7, in rough weather, transiting hazards to navigation, to say nothing of safely operating fishing gear and the vessel, requires a high functioning crew.

Unfortunately, evidence of long-term cognitive impairments among COVID-19 patients continues to accrue. Last week, JAMA Open Network published research documenting “high levels of cognitive impairment among 740 Covid-19 patients months after they had been diagnosed with Covid-19 (the average time between diagnosis and assessment was 7.6 months), according to the peer reviewed study, affecting up to one in four patients in some instances,” according to an October 22 article in Forbes.

According to the article, “Nearly a quarter of participants had difficulty processing (24%)or retrieving (23%) memories, the researchers found, while around a fifth showed slower mental processing speeds (18%) and impaired language.” The research was conducted at New York City’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

While cognitive declines are not uncommon among older patients treated for influenza and other disease, NBC News quotes study author Jacqueline Becker, as saying “We’re seeing long-term cognitive impairment across a range of age groups and disease severity.” Expanding on that, NBC News reports, “While hospitalized patients were more likely to have cognitive impairments, patients who were only treated in the emergency department also had developed thinking problems.”

“Seeing severe mental deficits in patients in their 20s, 30s and 40s is "heartbreaking," said Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Post-COVID Clinic. Some say "they cannot function; they can’t think; their memory is impaired; they get confused when they drive places, that they don’t know how they got there."

Lavretsky goes on to say, “Twenty to 30 percent will have this prolonged reaction…In any school situation or complex work environment, this can really impair performance. If a person is lucky, they may be able to function at a lower level.” Executive function is defined as “the group of complex mental processes and cognitive abilities (such as working memory, impulse inhibition, and reasoning) that control the skills (such as organizing tasks, remembering details, managing time, and solving problems) required for goal-directed behavior.”

We’re not being alarmist when we say that you really don’t want this disease. Impairments to memory forming, recall, and executive function are a big problem whether you work on the back deck or in the wheelhouse. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to avoid getting COVID-19 and the most important is getting vaccinated. Vaccination reduces your chance of infection by 5x. If do get a rare breakthrough infection, severity of disease is significantly lessened. Vaccination reduces your chances of hospitalization by 10x. While it’s possible to experience cognitive deficits resulting from a breakthrough infection, those treated in hospital experience the most frequent and severe impacts on cognitive function.

Don’t take chances with your health, income, or way of life. Use the Vaccine Finder, get vaccinated for COVID-19 and Catch fish, not COVID.

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