They caught the coronavirus months ago and survived it, but they are still stuck at home, gasping for breath. They are no longer contagious, but some still feel so ill that they can barely walk around the block, and others grow dizzy trying to cook dinner. Month after month, they rush to the hospital with new symptoms, pleading with doctors for answers.
As the coronavirus has spread through the United States over the past seven months, infecting at least seven million people, a subset of them are suffering from serious, debilitating and mysterious effects of Covid-19 that last far longer than a few days or weeks.
“Before this, I was a weight lifter, kayaker, hiker, white-water rafter,” said Karla Monterroso, 39, who was living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area when she caught the coronavirus in March. She has been sick for going on 200 days.
“I can’t do anything right now, physically, without harming myself,” she said.
Patients wrestling with alarming symptoms many months after first becoming ill — they have come to call themselves “long-haulers” — are believed to number in the thousands in the United States, including many young people who were healthy before being infected. Their symptoms can span a wide range, including piercing chest pain, deep exhaustion or a racing heart.
The New York Times asked four long-haulers to describe their experiences in their own words.