Pasco County COVID-19 patient opens up about lingering symptoms after the virus

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) – As coronavirus cases are on the rise in more than 40 states, including Florida, 8 On Your Side is taking a closer look at lingering effects of COVID-19.

Gene DellaSala, 47, is one of the first confirmed coronavirus patients in Tampa Bay. He’s actually patient zero in Pasco County.

“I feel like I’d wake up and feel like I got hit by a car,” DellaSala said of how he felt back in March.

Seven months after testing positive for the virus, he told 8 On Your Side he’s still not feeling 100 percent.

“I do go to my gym three times a week, I wear a mask,” DellaSala said, “but I’ve heard of people getting secondary infections or getting recurring infections and so far I haven’t experienced that.”

In a join interview with infectious disease specialist Dr. John Greene from Moffitt Cancer Center, DellaSala described his lingering symptoms.

“I do wake up a lot fatigued,” he said. “I definitely have more body aches than i did a year ago.”

Dr. Greene explained fatigue and body aches are the two most common long term side effects in COVID-19 patients followed by shortness of breath and difficulty concentrating.

“It’s not from the virus still in your body,” Dr. Greene said. “It’s actually your immune system is still in repair mode and it’s causing this inflammation.”

Dr. Greene said other long haul symptoms can be the inability to exercise, headaches, trouble sleeping and anxiety.

“I do have the memory fog, too,” DellaSala said. “I just attributed to not sleeping enough because I have sleep apnea which is an underlying problem before covid.”

Dr. Greene pointed out sicker patients who spend days in the hospital have a higher chance of longer term effects compared to someone like Pasco County’s patient zero.

“That recovery is going to be longer and harder and not to downplay Gene’s illness, but I just want to give you that bit of encouragement,” Dr. Greene said.

“Thank you, that’s great,” DellaSala said. “I’m very fortunate, very happy about that.”

Medical experts say the potential for lingering problems after COVID-19 just add to why it is important for everyone to slow the spread of the virus by wearing a mask, hand washing and avoiding large crowds.

The Florida Department of Health has reported more than 10,000 new cases of coronavirus since Saturday.

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