A new study by the Douglas Public Health Network indicates that 81% of the earliest reported COVID-19 patients in Douglas County are still feeling ill today.
DPHN spokesperson Vanessa Becker said the epidemiology team reached out to the county’s first 20 positive cases, and received responses from 16. Of those, 13 were still experiencing symptoms that are distinctly related to COVID-19, and that they were experiencing when they first tested positive months ago.
“We expected the number of people still experiencing symptoms to be high, just not quite this high,” Becker said in an email.
Worldwide, studies have shown the majority of patients continue to experience symptoms for up to 60 days from the time they test positive, she said.
They’re being called “long-haulers,” and the most common symptoms those in the Douglas Public Health study said they’re experiencing are fatigue and shortness of breath.
Other symptoms included muscle aches, swollen glands, memory loss, headaches, diarrhea, rash, hair loss, nausea and neurological symptoms in the hands and feet. One patient remains on oxygen all hours of the day.
“Having worked with every single COVID-19 positive case locally, DPHN is definitely invested in their health and wellbeing. So yes, it was difficult to hear how this virus and its aftereffects are still impacting our fellow residents. It certainly emphasizes for those of us in public health that it is not only death rates that are of concern with this virus,” Becker said.
Patients were not asked about preexisting conditions, she said, and no age-based analysis was performed.
The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team said in a press release the study shows the resolution of symptoms from the disease “appears to be a long and arduous road for the majority of those that were infected.”
And it said the team will continue to promote prevention measures, including limiting travel and social gatherings and practicing social distancing and wearing masks.
The team reported one new positive test Tuesday, bringing the total number of positive tests and presumptive cases combined to 179.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 243 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, and six deaths.
That brings the state total to 26,946 and the death toll to 465.