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As More Patients Report Long-Term Health Impacts From COVID-19, Johns Hopkins Doctor Says More Research Needed On 'Long COVID'

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- There's a growing number of people who have survived COVID-19, only to find persistent symptoms lasting weeks, sometimes even months.

It's been nearly six months since 69-year-old Russell Frisby was initially diagnosed with COVID-19 in March.

"My only symptoms were I had a bad cough and couldn't breathe," he said.

He was discharged after being hospitalized for five days.

"You just can't tell how COVID is going to affect you," he added.

Frisby has had asthma his entire life, managing to stay active, and rarely needed an inhaler before his diagnosis. However, the symptoms didn't go away, even after he was cleared of COVID.


"I was worried, I didn't think it was COVID, but I knew it was asthma, but just in case to be safe I did get a COVD test, and I was COVID negative," Frisby said.

"After COVID-19, his symptoms got worse to the point where he would require multiple inhalers," Dr. Sarath Raju, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Johns Hopkins, said.

Frisby is just one of many patients doctors are finding to be dealing with symptoms long after the initial infection has passed.

The condition is often referred to as "Long COVID."

"We're seeing a number of people with ongoing symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue and other symptoms," Raju said.

Raju said more research needs to be done, but right now, the Johns Hopkins post-acute team is working on a multi-disciplinary approach to treat patients.

Frisby is now improving slowly on a day-by-day basis, but he's still not quite back to where he was before COVID.

"It's a monitoring situation at this point, staying on the meds, being smart in terms of what I do and we'll see," Frisby said. "Hopefully things will be 100 percent by November, but you there's no guarantees."

Raju said while some have pre-existing conditions like Frisby, others may not, which is why prevention is key.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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