Surviving COVID-19 is only part of the battle, health officials say long-term effects will determine if they fully recover

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The term recovered means they survived the disease, but it does not mean people stopped suffering

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Researchers are continuing to uncover the long-lasting effects of COVID-19. Public health experts said they have been focusing on how to stop the spread of the virus but need more time to understand the many unknowns of the virus.

Currently, in some areas across the state, the recovering rate is increasing but Melissa Graven with the McLean County Health Department points out recovering from COVID-19 doesn’t always mean people are OK.

“Yeah we are using that word recovered and it kinda implies they are fine, they are totally fine,” she said. ” But in this instance, the term recovered means they survived the disease but it doesn’t speak to the ongoing health issues they might have.”

So far, in both the Tri-County area and McLean County, more than 70% of people survived the virus. But Graven said health departments do not have data showing how many people are suffering from long-term complications.

Graven explained the health department’s role in COVID-19 is to do case investigations and contact tracing. The department follows the patients through their isolation and quarantine period, but she said once the virus is out of their system or they are no longer infectious, they are discharged and the health department no longer oversees their case.

“Because we are in a pandemic, and that information, of course, is important to know, as a health department, we just don have the manpower to follow everybody, for every day to see what their disease process is going to look like,” she said.

The disease process is how the body reacts after fighting off the virus. According to Graven, many people who recover from the virus do continue to experience shortness of breath, fatigue, aches, blood clotting, heart damage, asthma, lung damage, strokes, and long-term need for at-home oxygen tanks.

The first cases of COVID-19 were in January. She said researchers need more than six months to determine the true scope of the disease process for COVID-19.

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