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How Long Can I Expect a COVID-19 Illness to Last? | Health News

How long can I expect a COVID-19 illness to last?

It depends. Most coronavirus patients have mild to moderate illness and recover quickly. Older, sicker patients tend to take longer to recover. That includes those who are obese, or have high blood pressure and other chronic diseases.

The World Health Organization says recovery typically takes two to six weeks. One U.S. study found that around 20% of non-hospitalized individuals ages 18 to 34 still had symptoms at least two weeks after becoming ill. The same was true for nearly half of people age 50 and older.

Among those sick enough to be hospitalized, a study in Italy found 87% were still experiencing symptoms two months after getting sick. Lingering symptoms included fatigue and shortness of breath.

Dr. Khalilah Gates, a Chicago lung specialist, said many of her hospitalized COVID-19 patients still have coughing episodes, breathing difficulties and fatigue three to four months after infection.

She said it’s hard to predict exactly when COVID-19 patients will return to feeling well.

“The unsettling part of all this is we don’t have all the answers,” said Gates, an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

It’s also hard to predict which patients will develop complications after their initial illness subsides.

COVID-19 can affect nearly every organ, and long-term complications can include heart inflammation, decreased kidney function, fuzzy thinking, anxiety and depression.

It is unclear whether the virus itself or the inflammation it can cause leads to these lingering problems, said Dr. Jay Varkey, an Emory University infectious diseases specialist.

“Once you get over the acute illness, it’s not necessarily over,” he said.

The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: [email protected]

Read previous Viral Questions:

Am I immune to the coronavirus if I’ve already had it?

Can the coronavirus travel more than 6 feet in the air?

Does the coronavirus spread easily among children?

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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California regulators launch review of long, deadly delays in L.A. County specialty care

Los Angeles, CA, August 24, 2019 - Majid Vatandoust, a 49-year old heating and air conditioning technician from Canoga Park, who went to LAC clinic Mid-Valley for a check-up in early 2014. He had unintentionally lost about 20 pounds and routine tests found he was anemic and had blood in his stool, all early indicators of potentially deadly colon cancer. His doctor put in a request via eConsult for a colonoscopy but was denied, his medical records show. The gastroenterologist who turned down the request without ever seeing Vatandoust said the test used to detect blood in Vatandoust's stool was "not valid for patients under 50 years old." Thousands of patients in L.A. County's public hospital system who endure long, sometimes deadly delays to see medical specialists, a Times investigation has found. Doctors, nurses and patients describe chronic waits that leave the sick with intolerable pain, worsening illnesses and a growing sense of hopelessness. According to a Times data analysis of more than 860,000 requests for specialty care at the L.A. County Department of Health Services, a sprawling safety-net system that serves more than 2 million, primarily the region's poorest and most vulnerable residents. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Majid Vatandoust died of colon cancer at age 52, three years after a request for a colonoscopy was denied by a specialist working for L.A. County despite tests that showed clear indicators of the disease. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

As current and former doctors in Los Angeles County’s public hospital system condemn delays in providing specialist care, California regulators have launched a review of the long, sometimes deadly waits faced by patients who need treatment from one of the nation’s largest public health systems.

The actions come in the wake of a Times investigation that found patients of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services face agonizing delays to see specialists after referrals from primary care providers, leaving many with intolerable pain, worsening illnesses and a growing sense of hopelessness. The Times report included several patients who died of the conditions they waited to have treated.

The California Department of Health Care Services will review whether any managed care plan that offers Medi-Cal — the government-subsidized program that covers low-income Californians and most county patients — violated its contract with the state to provide adequate access to care, an agency spokeswoman said.

“Any untimely death is a tragedy, and our hearts go out to the families suffering the loss of a loved one. The wait times outlined by The Times are unacceptable,” Michelle Baass, undersecretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, said in a statement. “Timely access to care is a fundamental patient right.”

The review is the second underway by the state. The California Department of Managed Health Care began an investigation of the county’s wait times this year in response to questions from The Times about delays in specialist appointments.

Baass is overseeing both inquiries after her boss, state Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, recused himself. Ghaly is married to the director of the Los Angeles County safety-net hospital system, Dr. Christina Ghaly.

The average wait to see a specialist in the L.A. County system was 89 days, according to a Times data analysis of more than 860,000 requests for specialty care at the county’s Department of Health Services, which serves more than 2 million people, primarily the region’s poorest and most vulnerable residents.

Even patients waiting to see doctors whose prompt care can mean the difference between life and death — neurologists, kidney specialists, cardiologists — endured delays that stretched on for months, according to the data, which consisted of nonemergency requests from primary care providers to specialists from 2016 through 2019.

Several doctors who now work for the county or recently left called for reform, including better communication between primary care providers and specialists as well as a dramatic increase in hiring of specialists.

Dr. Michael Hochman, a primary care physician and associate professor of clinical medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, who has practiced at safety-net health systems on both coasts, said Los Angeles County’s is “the least effective system that I’ve worked at in my 14

Scientists Study The Long Term Health Effects Of Wildfire Smoke : Shots

Smoke blankets Mill City, Oregon, which was evacuated for days following the nearby Beachie Creek Fire.

Nathan Rott/NPR

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Nathan Rott/NPR

Smoke blankets Mill City, Oregon, which was evacuated for days following the nearby Beachie Creek Fire.

Nathan Rott/NPR

Ariel Kinzinger had a headache. Clark Brinkman coughed and wheezed. LaNesha Collins, feeling physically fine, was frustrated by another day mostly trapped inside looking out at a sepia sun, in Portland, Ore.

“I’ve never been in the thick of smoke like this,” said Collins, an Oregonian like the others. “It’s insane.”

In recent weeks, tens of millions of Americans have lived and breathed through a thick haze of wildfire smoke. In places, it lasted for weeks. The immediate health effects of that are well known to the medical community and anyone who’s been exposed: Eyes sting, throats tighten, snot can turn black.

Respiratory problems like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be exacerbated, causing spikes in hospital visits. And recent research on the link between wildfire smoke and the flu, even suggests it could increase a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19.

Much less is known though about what happens after the smoke clears.

“Every person who asks me is like, ‘What does this mean for my health a long time from now?,'” says Colleen Reid, a geographer at the University of Colorado Boulder who studies the health impacts of wildfire smoke. “And unfortunately we don’t really know.”

The lack of data and information on the long-term health impacts of wildfire smoke is a hole scientists and epidemiologists are quickly trying to fill. Research teams are looking at long-term lung function after smoke exposure, and potential impacts on pregnant women and infants. These efforts have been slowed by the pandemic, but have taken on new urgency with recent events.

Record-breaking wildfires, like those the West Coast has experienced this year, have become a near-annual occurrence. Human-caused climate change is increasing the length and intensity of fire season globally. More people are moving to fire-prone areas. And there’s a growing understanding among land managers and the public that more “good fire” is going to be needed across broad swaths of the U.S. to chip away at a century’s worth of accumulated vegetation in some Western forests. All of this means more people are going to be exposed to smoke more frequently in the future.

“The paradigm’s changing where a [smoke event] is not just this one-time disaster for many communities in the West,” says Sheryl Magzamen, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Colorado State University. “They’re actually chronic disasters that occur every two to three years.”

Smoke travels far

Days of thick smoke are not a new occurrence in many Western communities. But the breadth and duration of the smoke generated by this year’s fires is without modern precedent.

An NPR analysis of air quality data on the West Coast found that 1 in 7 Americans have experienced at least a day of unhealthy air conditions during this

Newlywed, mom ‘COVID long haulers’ battle debilitating symptoms months later

Doctors say they’re bracing for a “tsunami” of “COVID long haulers”

As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the U.S., experts are noticing another wave of the pandemic with what they’re calling “COVID long-haulers,” or people suffering debilitating symptoms months after having the coronavirus.

Doctors say they are seeing many people who have recovered from COVID but are finding themselves still not well.

Caitlin Barber, a 27-year-old newlywed, is one of these “COVID long haulers,” who led a healthy lifestyle with her husband and spent time training as a runner. She was also a dietician at a nursing home.

Caitlin Barber poses for a photo after a marathon.

Caitlin Barber poses for a photo after a marathon.

Caitlin Barber poses for a photo after a marathon.

“We were living the newlywed dream, you know and loving life,” Barber told “Good Morning America.”

In March, things changed instantly when she was diagnosed with COVID-19. Barber recovered from the disease, but getting rid of the virus wouldn’t be the end of it.

Seven months after getting COVID, Barber said that the side effects of the disease have lingered, affecting her ability to walk on her own and even do simple tasks like showering.

“We kind of call it the Corona Coaster because one day could be okay, and the next day I’m on the floor, having convulsions, thinking I’m having a heart attack,” said Barber.

Michaelene Carlton, a mom of two from Delaware, has also been struggling since recovering from COVID-19. Some of the symptoms she’s been experiencing are extreme headaches.

“A bad day is some days me not being able to get out of bed,” Carlton told “GMA.” “The headaches are so extreme that I’m taking migraine medicine and sleeping for 14 to 16 hours a day.”

Because of how bad their symptoms were getting, both women sought help online among a community of people experiencing the same thing after recovering from COVID-19. It was in the Facebook support group SurvivorCorps that each learned about Mount Sinai’s post-COVID clinic — the largest clinic in the country dedicated to treating long haulers.

“What we’re seeing at the center is a very wide distribution of both age, sex, ethnicity, preexisting conditions versus healthy patients,” said Dr. Zijian Chen, director of Mount Sinai’s post COVID clinic. “You’re not protected if you’re young and healthy, unfortunately.”

At Mount Sinai, they’re experiencing an influx of patients who are turning to them for help, and the waitlist is growing.

“I have patients not only across the country, but across the world that are seeking advice because they just haven’t been able to find the support in terms of the healthcare system,” said Mount Sinai’s Dr. Dayna McCarthy.

Chen also warned that the growing number of people experiencing COVID long hauler symptoms may have major consequences down the line.

“This other group of patients with symptoms are unrelenting that need to see many

‘Long Covid’ sufferers struggle to return to work

From migraines to fatigue, coronavirus patients say they are continuing to suffer debilitating symptoms months after first becoming infected, in what has become known as “long Covid.” 

a person standing in front of a window

© Provided by CNBC

Claire Twomey, 33, a social worker in County Meath, Ireland, told CNBC via telephone that it was in her first week back at work, around six weeks after she first became ill with the coronavirus, that her symptoms re-emerged. 

She initially thought she had become re-infected with the virus when the headaches came back, followed by a fever, coughing and shortness of breath. But hospital tests found no underlying issues, she said. 

Twomey said she felt “absolutely floored” when the symptoms re-emerged. “I was back in bed, I couldn’t even read a book or watch TV for longer than half an hour.” 

More “insane, weird (and) strange” symptoms appeared in this relapse with the illness, including gastrointestinal issues, hair loss and skin rashes.

Twomey said she felt “frustrated” as the illness lingered, and worried about the future after being out of work for so long. “I’ve been on pause for six months,” she said. 

By mid-September, Twomey found she was having fewer “bad days” but knew that she still couldn’t return to working as she had before. 

Twomey applied for another part-time position in social care, but spent the eight days prior to the job interview bedridden with migraines. “I thought I was going to have to cancel the interview.” 

Fortunately, she was able to do the interview and got the job, which she is set to start in a few weeks. 

a close up of a woman: Claire Twomey, 33, a social worker from Ireland has suffered with

© Provided by CNBC
Claire Twomey, 33, a social worker from Ireland has suffered with

‘A bigger public health problem’

Three health care bodies in the U.K. announced Monday that they were working on a formal definition of “long Covid” and how to identify symptoms, so that the National Health Service can officially recognize the illness. The “long Covid” guidelines are expected to be published by the end of the year. 

In a paper published Monday by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change on “long Covid,” Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, warned so-called “long haulers … could turn out to be a bigger public-health problem than excess deaths from Covid-19.” 

The paper also highlighted new findings from the Covid Symptom Study, led by Spector, indicating that around 10% of people surveyed in the U.K. had suffered with “long Covid” symptoms for a month, while up to 2% were still experiencing them after three months. 

With nearly 4.3 million downloading the study’s app to record coronavirus symptoms, it is said to be the largest public science project of its kind in the world. There have been 532,779 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the U.K. and 42,535 related deaths, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.  

Based on extrapolated data, the researchers estimated that of those affected by the first wave of the virus in the U.K., 300,000 people would

AIM ImmunoTech Announces IRB Approval to Enroll COVID-19 ‘Long Haulers’ in the AMP-511 ME/CFS Clinical Trial of Ampligen

COVID-19 Patients May Continue to Experience Chronic Fatigue-Like Symptoms

Charles Lapp, MD

Charles Lapp, MD, at a recent AIM ImmunoTech Inc. planning meeting on COVID-19-induced chronic fatigue in ‘Long Haulers,’ at the Hunter-Hopkins Center, Charlotte, N.C.
Charles Lapp, MD, at a recent AIM ImmunoTech Inc. planning meeting on COVID-19-induced chronic fatigue in ‘Long Haulers,’ at the Hunter-Hopkins Center, Charlotte, N.C.
Charles Lapp, MD, at a recent AIM ImmunoTech Inc. planning meeting on COVID-19-induced chronic fatigue in ‘Long Haulers,’ at the Hunter-Hopkins Center, Charlotte, N.C.

OCALA, Fla., Oct. 06, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — AIM ImmunoTech Inc. (NYSE American: AIM) is pleased to announce that it has received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval for the expansion of the AMP-511 Expanded Access Program (EAP) clinical trial for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) to include patients previously diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2, but who still demonstrate chronic fatigue-like symptoms. Patients in the trial are treated with AIM’s flagship pipeline drug Ampligen.

These patients — commonly referred to as Post-COVID-19 Chronic Fatigue (PCCF) / “Long Haulers” because of the persistence of their symptoms — will be able to receive Ampligen treatments alongside the ME/CFS patients in the EAP. Up to 20 of the 100 active participants can be Long Haulers, according to the new trial protocol amendment. AIM is currently preparing the IRB-approved protocol for submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”).

“It is anticipated that COVID-19 will trigger a large number of CFS cases, providing an opportunity for the medical community to learn more about the onset and pathogenesis of CFS,” according to Charles Lapp, MD, a global expert in ME/CFS. “The investigational immune-modulating antiviral drug Ampligen might have a role to play in this scenario.”

Many survivors of the first SARS-CoV-1 epidemic in 2003 continued to report classic chronic fatigue-like symptoms after recovering from the acute illness. In fact, approximately 27% of survivors met the CDC criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome (See: There is now increasing evidence that patients with COVID-19 — the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 — can develop a similar, ME/CFS-like illness (See: AIM CEO Thomas K. Equels states, “With millions of U.S. cases of COVID-19 already on record we can expect a tidal wave of new U.S. cases of COVID-19 sufferers who will exhibit serious chronic fatigue-like symptoms. In addition, unpublished data from AIM indicates that ME/CFS patients respond better to Ampligen the earlier they receive the drug, so enrolling ‘Long Haulers’ earlier in their diagnosis could potentially benefit these patients while also providing valuable information for all ME/CFS patients.”

In June, AIM filed a provisional utility patent application for Ampligen as a potential therapy for COVID-19-induced ME/CFS-like illness (See:

About AIM ImmunoTech Inc.
AIM ImmunoTech Inc. is an immuno-pharma company focused on the research and development of therapeutics to treat multiple types of cancers, immune disorders, and viral diseases, including COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Cautionary Statement

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA) of 1995. Words such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “plan,” “anticipate” and similar expressions (as well as other words or expressions referencing

Hospitals digging in for a long winter as coronavirus patients increase

The rise in the number of infected patients is a far cry from the spring surge. Yet it is increasingly apparent among several hospitals in so-called red zones — communities determined by state health officials to have an elevated risk of coronavirus infections.

At Lowell General Hospital, which counted fewer than a handful of COVID-19 patients most days in August, the daily census is now close to three times that, between 11 and 15 patients, said Dr. Adam Weston, an infectious disease physician.

“The good news is we haven’t seen our numbers dramatically climb upward, but there’s the worry that we have ongoing community spread and that could be a harbinger of additional cases,” Weston said.

Lowell is among roughly 30 cities and towns where state officials determined Wednesday infection rates are too high to allow more business and entertainment venue reopenings.

Like a lot of hospitals, Lowell General was suddenly swamped with COVID-19 patients in March and April and had to halt many other medical tests and surgeries to stay ahead of the surge. But that peak subsided fairly rapidly, and hospitals in the summer had mostly returned to normal operations.

Now, Weston said, his hospital and colleagues in the Wellforce system, which includes Tufts Medical Center in Boston and MelroseWakefield Hospital, believe they will be shouldering an elevated plateau of coronavirus patients for months.

“Many are predicting a less tall, but much longer curve, spread out over a longer period of time,” he said.

“The hope and plan is a co-existing of COVID care and regular hospital care,” he said. “But all plans are fine until they get on the battlefield.”

At Southcoast Health, which includes St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, the number of daily COVID-19 cases has nearly doubled in the last two weeks, from 10 to 18. New Bedford is among the red zone communities.

Jackie Somerville, senior vice president and chief nursing officer for Southcoast Hospitals Group, worries that too many residents are letting their guard down after months of reminders to wear masks and socially distance. The weariness comes as schools are reopening and the weather is cooling. With more activities moved inside, the risk of infection increases.

“We are definitely seeing COVID fatigue in all the communities,” Somerville said. “It’s critical more than ever to be meticulous in terms of using [personal protective gear] inside our hospital and also to be ambassadors for Southcoast to role model what vigilance looks like.”

For the first time, Southcoast is now mandating all employees get flu shots, something many other hospitals did several years ago, to protect patients and workers from spreading that virus. Health leaders say flu shots are imperative this year to avoid concurrent outbreaks of influenza and COVID-19 that could overwhelm the state’s health care system.

“We don’t want to see individuals potentially get both because we don’t know what that will look like,” Somerville said.

At UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, there has also been a slow increase of COVID-19

An ‘exhausted’ Trump’s long path to coronavirus

When President Donald Trump stepped into the dining room of his golf club in New Jersey on Thursday, high-dollar attendees gathered for a fundraiser there thought he seemed a little off.

a man wearing a suit and tie: US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. - President Trump is in Cleveland, Ohio for the first of three presidential debates.

© Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio on September 29, 2020. – President Trump is in Cleveland, Ohio for the first of three presidential debates.

Subdued from a week of campaigning, maybe. Hoarse from a string of large rallies. Perhaps a little pale underneath the crystal chandeliers.

“Exhausted,” described one person who saw him.

Little could those guests know that the tired-sounding man sitting across the white brocade tablecloth would test positive, hours later, for coronavirus.

Nor were they aware that before he arrived, both Trump and his senior aides received information suggesting he could have been exposed — and therefore could be contagious. Like usual, the President wasn’t wearing a mask.

Trump’s positive diagnosis, announced in a tweet during the small hours on Friday morning only after word leaked his top aide Hope Hicks had become infected, has thrown the nation’s leadership into tumult and sent the capital scrambling to determine who else might be infected.

Questions of government continuity arose in ways they haven’t in years; Trump’s diagnosis amounted to the most serious health threat to an American president since the non-fatal shooting of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Suffering only “mild” symptoms, according to the White House — which include a fever, a person familiar with the matter said — Trump alternated Friday between upbeat entreaties to aides to go about business as usual and more worried-sounding brooding about his health, according to a person familiar with the matter. He canceled all of his upcoming campaign travel and failed to appear for a scheduled phone call midday with state and local officials to discuss the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable senior citizens.

“I know many of you were expecting to hear from President Trump today, but as I’m sure you are all aware, President Trump and the first lady tested positive for Covid-19,” Vice President Mike Pence, acting in his stead, told the officials.

In a memo Friday afternoon, Trump’s physician wrote that he “remains fatigued but in good spirits.” He said Trump had been administered a Regeneron polyclonal antibody cocktail and has been taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and a daily aspirin. The decision to give Trump an experimental monoclonal antibody cocktail is a sign of how concerned the White House may be by the diagnosis, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst and professor at George Washington University, said.

The story of how Trump contracted coronavirus was still being learned on Friday as aides hurriedly tried to trace who he’d been in contact with and whether they themselves might be contagious. At 74-years-old, clinically obese and with known heart ailments, Trump himself fits within a high-risk category.

Yet taken in

How long to manifest and when to test

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), usually pass from person to person through sexual contact. Testing can help make sex safer and ensure people receive proper treatment for STIs

Each STI has its own incubation period, which is how long it takes for symptoms to appear. In some cases, it can take months for an STI to show up on tests. In other cases, it may only take days.

This article explores the incubation periods of different STIs, how soon people can get tested, and the importance of testing.

The incubation period is how long it takes for symptoms to appear after exposure. The window period is how long it takes to get a positive test result for the infection after exposure. These periods are often similar.

Some general symptoms that indicate a person might have an STI include:

  • genital itching or burning
  • pain during intercourse or urination
  • a new or unusual discharge
  • bumps or growths on or around the genitals
  • a foul smell coming from the genitals or after sex

However, some STIs do not cause symptoms for many years, even though a person can still get a positive test result. This is why it is important to rely on testing, not just symptoms.

In most cases, a person can get an STI test within a few weeks of exposure. If a person has a curable STI, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, they may need a retest after treatment.

People at high risk of certain STIs should ask for a retest, even after a negative result. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend annual HIV testing for people at risk, such as those whose partners have HIV or people who share needles.

The testing window for common STIs is as follows:


A nucleic acid test analyzes a blood sample for HIV. It can indicate a positive result 10–33 days after exposure. The antigen/antibody test, also a blood test, looks for HIV antibodies. It also looks for an antigen that the body produces before antibodies appear. It can get results 18–45 days after exposure.

The antibody test uses a blood or saliva sample to look for HIV antibodies. It takes the longest to get a reliable result, at 23–90 days after exposure. A person can be confident they do not have HIV if they get a negative test during the window period and have no subsequent contact with someone who could have the virus.


A doctor can test for chlamydia by swabbing the vagina, cervix, rectum, or throat, or by taking a urine sample. If symptoms appear, they usually present within 7–21 days of exposure. A test can normally detect chlamydia within 1–2 weeks of exposure.


A doctor can test for gonorrhea with a urine sample. In some cases, they may also swab the urethra, anus, throat, or cervix to get a more reliable result.

Most tests can detect the infection within 5 days to 2 weeks of exposure. If