Checking In On Two COVID-19 'Long Haulers'
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
More than 4,000 Americans are dying of the coronavirus every day. Over the past week, the average number of new coronavirus infections rose to nearly 240,000 a day. And while the vast majority of people who contract COVID-19 survive, we know now that not all recoveries look alike.
BARRY NEELY: I consider myself an early adopter of COVID. It was way back in March. And that was when everybody was saying it'd only be three weeks, and you'll be fine. And that's when I found myself having symptoms for much longer.
ALICE NAVARRO: I contracted COVID last year in late June and was hospitalized with COVID for 10 days.
SIMON: That's Alice Navarro of Austin, Texas. We caught up with her and Barry Neely of Los Angeles this week for an update. We've been in contact with them for months. Barry Neely recalled what he felt like back in July.
NEELY: It was aches. It was a low-grade fever. It was just shortness of breath, tightness in the chest. The fatigue, all the shortness of breath lasted for at least five or six weeks. And then the tightness in the chest finally completely cleared in August, maybe beginning of September.
NAVARRO: I think it took about five months until I could actually say that I started to feel like myself again. During that time, my partner pointed out to me that I started to show some issues whenever I would sleep at night to the point where he would actually wake me up because he was so scared of the way that I was breathing.
SIMON: In December, Alice Navarro was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a condition her doctors say they're seeing in COVID survivors. She's also had to boost the dosage of her asthma medication. And all the while, she's faced doubters.
NAVARRO: I had some people that thought that I was making a big deal over something that they didn't think was a big deal. And it actually fields (ph) my desire to be an advocate for others who have COVID but are, you know, scared about going public with their diagnosis and their experience.
SIMON: She stayed active on social media and in the comment sections of news sites, where she offers up her own illness as proof that the pandemic is no hoax.
NEELY: The benefit of having it early on is I have tried to be a resource to friends who have been taking every precaution and still managed to get it. It's interesting because I had it so long ago that, you know, I even started to get a little cocky about, well, you know, it's not that bad, or this or that, forgetting, oh, no, you went through months and months and months of really bad symptoms, so it can be bad.
SIMON: Both Barry Neely and Alice Navarro are looking forward to getting vaccinated. And in the meantime, these two COVID survivors do what they can and hope not to get sick again.
NEELY: I don't know what the effects are going to be if I get it a second time, and I'm going to have to assume that it's going to be worse. So I don't want to take any chances.
NAVARRO: Unfortunately, I am learning that there are other people that have had COVID at the same time that I did that are getting it again. So honestly, that frightens me. I don't want to go through that ever again.
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