RHA Board Member Heads Federal RECOVER Study

Included in the American Rescue Plan of 2021, was a new $1.15 billion multi-site study into the effects of Long COVID by the National Institutes of Health. The Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) study looked to identify how individuals recover from a COVID-19 infection and which populations are at higher risk for Long COVID.

Long COVID refers to the myriad symptoms stemming from COVID-19 that persist in the weeks and months following initial COVID infection.

One of the study’s principal investigators, Jerry Krishnan, MD, PhD, is a professor at University of Illinois Chicago, and an RHA board member. Dr. Krishnan notes that, “Long COVID is likely a result of the virus itself, the host response to the virus—our immune system’s ability to respond to the infection, clear the virus, and then turn off the response; which could be affected by age, underlying health conditions, medications that we are using—and the social determinants of health—all the factors that affect our ability to access and use healthcare effectively, including social supports through family and friends.”

An initial RECOVER study found that of 13,106 adults in New York who were hospitalized from COVID-19, 1 in 4 were Black, 1 in 4 were Hispanic, and only 1 in 7 were White adults. In general, Long COVID patients were more likely to have conditions affecting their nervous system, respiratory function, circulation, and have joint pain or fatigue. However, symptoms varied by race. In the months following infection, Black adults with severe comorbidities were more likely than Whites to be diagnosed with diabetes and experience headaches, chest pain and joint pain, but less likely than other racial groups to have sleep disorders, cognitive problems, or fatigue. Similarly, Hispanics were more likely to have headaches, shortness of breath, joint paint, and chest pain, but less likely to have sleep disorders, cognitive problems, or fatigue. Among patients who were not hospitalized, Black adults were more likely to have blood clots in their lungs, chest pain, joint pain, anemia, or be malnourished. Hispanic adults were more likely to have dementia, headaches, anemia, chest pain, and diabetes. White adults were most likely to have conditions such as cognitive impairment (i.e ‘brain fog’) and fatigue.

A second, RECOVER study, looked at data from 34 health systems in the US and found most Long COVID patients to be White, female, non-Hispanic, and likely to live in areas with low poverty and greater access to health care. This pattern suggests that not all patients who have Long COVID are being diagnosed, said Emily Pfaff, Ph.D., a study author, and professor at the University of North Carolina. In addition to long-documented health disparities, women are more likely than men to seek health care, and patients with the time and resources to access health care tend to be disproportionally represented in clinical data. Pfaff also found that patients could be grouped by age and symptoms. Patients with Long COVID had mild COVID-19 symptoms during infection. Gastrointestinal and upper respiratory problems were more likely among children and teenagers. Those aged 21-45 commonly experienced neurological problems, such as brain fog and fatigue. While adults ages 66 and older were more likely to have coexisting conditions. Study authors suspect this is likely due to age rather than COVID-19. However, additional studies are needed to confirm all trends.

“COVID-19 was the first pandemic. Long COVID is the second pandemic related to SARS-CoV-2,” said Krishnan. He points out, “although Long COVID is not infectious (unlike COVID-19), it can lead to disability (short-term, medium-term, or long-term) and prevent someone finishing school or going back to work. According to the CDC, about one in five Americans who had COVID-19 develop Long COVID.   Many other infectious diseases (e.g., polio, chickenpox, Giardia) leave a tail of disability – Long COVID is another example of how infections not only lead to an acute illness but can leave some disabled.”  While researchers are working with community stakeholders to identify strategies to prevent and treat the long-term effects of COVID-19, we do know that getting vaccinated and following CDC recommendations for boosters can help reduce the severity of COVID-19 and boost the host response.

Clifford Law Offices Becomes a Diamond Sponsor of CowaLUNGa™ Charity Bike Tour

May 15, 2023 – Chicago, IL – Respiratory Health Association is pleased to announce that Clifford Law Offices will be a diamond sponsor of the 27th annual CowaLUNGa™ Charity Bike Tour. During the three-day bike event taking place July 29-31, employees from Clifford Law will be seen riding as part of Team CLO Troopers.

“We are proud to partner with Clifford Law in our efforts to promote lung health and clean air for all,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association. “This helps us strengthen our commitment to community programs in areas of Chicago where lung health is in peril.”

“Health and bike safety go hand in hand,” said Robert A. Clifford, founder and senior partner of Clifford Law Offices in Chicago.  “We are proud to sponsor the CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour to create a greater awareness of the need for everyone to do their part in staying healthy and trying to keep others safe and healthy as well.”

CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour offers a one day ride (18 or 65 miles), a two day ride (130 miles) or a three day ride (190 miles) pedaling over rolling hills through northern Illinois into southern Wisconsin. Along the way, riders experience an unparalleled level of camaraderie and support from other cyclists and Respiratory Health Association, while helping RHA achieve its vision of healthy lungs and clean air for all.

Sign up to ride CowaLUNGa at RespHealth.org/Cow.


About Respiratory Health Association

RHA has been a local public health leader in Chicago since 1906. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. To learn more, visit www.resphealth.org.

About Clifford Law Offices

Clifford Law Offices is routinely ranked as one of the top Chicago law firms and has been included on U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Law Firms. The firm’s personal injury attorneys have the experience to protect the interests of those injured by negligent conduct and the families who suffer the wrongful death of a loved one who seek fair compensation for their loss. Since 1984, Clifford Law Offices has been dedicated to serving the needs of clients in the Chicago area and throughout the nation. The award-winning lawyers at the firm, its stellar legal teams, and Clifford Law Offices’ access to the best resources and experts are just some of the differences that drive its success.

Illinois General Assembly Adds E-Cigs to Smoke Free Illinois Act

May 15, 2023 – Chicago, IL – We congratulate the Illinois General Assembly on the passage of HB1540, which will now include electronic cigarettes in the Smoke-Free Illinois Act. This action shows the state’s commitment to safeguarding the well-being of its residents by reducing the potential harm associated with electronic cigarettes. This law will create a healthier and safer environment for all Illinois residents.

Under the new law, smoking e-cigarettes will be prohibited in all public places, including indoor workplaces, restaurants, bars, and public transportation. By adopting this amendment, Illinois joins a growing number of states that recognize the need to regulate e-cigarettes in the same manner as traditional tobacco products. Previously, the City of Chicago, and a handful of other communities in Illinois, had adopted similar amendments to their smoke-free laws.

This law will have a particularly positive health effect on youth and vulnerable populations, who tend to use e-cigarettes in greater numbers than the general population.

“We would like to thank the legislators and thousands of advocates who worked to make sure this law would pass,” said RHA President and CEO Joel Africk. “For more than three decades, RHA has continued to promote policies that protect kids from smoking, reduce secondhand smoke, and regulate these dangerous products that, if taken as directed, kill you.”


Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906, focusing on lung health and clean air issues. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. As a policy leader, RHA is committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies. We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for federal oversight of tobacco and vaping products, smoke-free laws, Tobacco 21, and other tobacco product policies.

Finding the Courage To Quit®

Lynn Andrews had her first cigarette at age 13, and she would continue smoking every day for the next 54 years. By the time Andrews was in her sixties, she coughed frequently, found it hard to breathe while climbing stairs, and constantly experienced compounding pain in her legs from her rheumatoid arthritis.

Andrews decided she’d had enough. She knew her smoking habit aggravated her health problems, so she researched the chemicals in cigarettes. “I realized; I’m killing myself. Like suicide. I got mad and said, ‘I’m not going to smoke anymore.’ I didn’t even want cigarettes anymore. They didn’t even taste good. But I kept smoking,” Andrews said. Her sister told her about RHA’s Courage to Quit® smoking cessation program. Andrews enrolled in 2021, at age 67.

Quitting was not easy. Andrews relied on cigarettes for stress relief. Almost everyone around her smoked, so she was always tempted to join. But on Jan. 6, 2022, Andrews had her final cigarette. “I wouldn’t have made it without the program,” said Andrews.

She particularly enjoyed learning the psychology behind smoking. “I learned that smoking itself causes stress – running out of cigarettes, where to buy cigarettes, craving a cigarette when you can’t have one,” Andrews said. “Smoking was a crutch which precluded me from learning healthy and useful coping skills. In Courage to Quit, I learned about triggers and how to identify them and what to do about them.”

Since its inception in 2016, more than 900 people have enrolled in Courage to Quit. The program has doubled in size since meetings went virtual during the pandemic and is expected to continue growing. Most program participants join at no cost through insurance or local behavioral health clinics. (See here for a list of programs in your area).

Participants who successfully quit smoking through Courage to Quit often stay involved in the classes to fortify their new habits and help others in their smoke-free journey. Andrews says that since she quit smoking, her leg pain from rheumatoid arthritis is gone and her breathing is much better.

Big Tobacco continues to threaten communities nationwide. The FDA reports that there are more than 18.5 million menthol cigarette smokers in the U.S., with high rates among youth, young adults, and minority racial and ethnic groups. While cigarette smoking rates of traditional cigarettes in Chicago are at a historic low, “the most recent data show that in the past 5 years, vaping among Chicago’s school-aged children increased by 56%,” said RHA President and CEO Joel Africk. RHA is currently working to add e-cigarettes to the ‘Smoke-free Illinois Act’, restrict the sales of flavored tobacco products marketed to youth, and increase programming to protect our youth from the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.

Courage to Quit smoking cessation program is an initiative of Respiratory Health Association and created in collaboration with Andrea King, PhD, of the UChicago Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience. The flexible, join-anytime, attend-when-you-can, virtual treatment program combines counseling, education, and support with evidence-based nicotine replacement medications to help ease tobacco withdrawal. Please visit our website to find a Courage to Quit program near you.


JTV® Launches 2023 Catch Your Breath® Campaign in Partnership with Respiratory Health Association®

April 20, 2023 – KNOXVILLE, Tenn., (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — JTV®, the national jewelry retailer and broadcast network, today is proud to announce the launch of its fifth annual Catch Your Breath® campaign in partnership with Respiratory Health Association® (RHA). Launching on April 21, the campaign aims to support the fight against women’s lung disease through education and donation opportunities. Continuing JTV’s longstanding support of the organization’s mission, this initiative further carries out the company’s philanthropic mission and dedication to giving back.

In this year’s Catch Your Breath campaign, customers will have the chance to support a worthy cause while shopping JTV’s exquisite jewelry pieces. During the campaign, JTV will introduce two beautiful butterfly keychains available for purchase with 50% of the selling price directly benefitting Respiratory Health Association’s research and educational programs.

“We are thrilled to partner with Respiratory Health Association for the fifth annual Catch Your Breath campaign,” said Tim Matthews, CEO of JTV. “We are committed to supporting women, who are disproportionately affected by these ailments, in all aspects of their lives and look forward to continuing our partnership with Respiratory Health Association to raise awareness for this important cause. Together, we can make a real difference for those affected by respiratory illnesses.”

Since 2019, JTV has partnered with Respiratory Health Association for its Catch Your Breath campaign and has raised almost $1 million to-date to support the organization’s noble cause. With the initiative now in its fifth year, JTV is committed to continuing its partnership to make a positive impact on respiratory health.

“We are thrilled to partner with JTV once again for our annual Catch Your Breath campaign,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO at Respiratory Health Association. “We look forward to working together to raise awareness and needed funds to help those impacted by respiratory illnesses. With JTV’s support, we can continue to make great strides in the fight against lung disease and improve the lives of countless individuals and families.”

Those looking to support the cause can tune in to JTV or visit jtv.com/breath to learn more about the risk factors of lung disease and for extra savings on their JTV purchase when making a donation.

To donate, call JTV’s Call Center (800) 619-3000 and choose option 2 or go online at jtv.com/breath or womenslunghealth.org. To learn more about the JTV 2023 Catch Your Breath® campaign and JTV’s product offerings, please visit JTV.com and follow @JTV on Instagram, @jtv on Facebook, @jewelrytv on Pinterest and @jewelry on Twitter.

About JTV
JTV (Jewelry Television®) is a leading retailer of jewelry and gemstones in the United States. With a proven 29-year history, JTV leverages an omni-digital strategy designed to elevate the customer experience through holistic, digitally driven touch points, including live TV programming, 24 hours a day, seven days a week to approximately 95 million U.S. and Canadian households, an industry leading mobile optimized e-commerce platform, and a robust and engaging social media presence. As part of its commitment to customer satisfaction and the development and distribution of educational content, the company employs numerous Graduate Gemologists and Accredited Jewelry Professionals. For more information, visit JTV.com and JTV’s social media channels: FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitterPinterest and LinkedIn.

About Respiratory Health
A public health leader since 1906, Respiratory Health Association® (RHA) is dedicated to its mission of preventing lung disease, promoting clean air and helping people live better lives through education, research and policy change. To achieve that goal, RHA collaborates with researchers in pursuit of new treatments and cures for disease like asthma, COPD and lung cancer; empowers adults and children by teaching them skills to manage their health; delivers evidence-based tobacco cessation programs; and works with lawmakers to craft innovative policies that build a more equitable and sustainable future. Learn more at resphealth.org.

Respiratory Health Association’s Catch Your Breath® campaign raises awareness and funding for lung health research and programs. Catch Your Breath® advocates increased funding for research to better understand lung disease – including asthma, COPD, lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis – and improve treatments. The initiative also educates the public and medical professionals about the disproportionate effects of lung disease on women. Learn more and get involved at womenslunghealth.org.

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