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'COVID-19 Long Haulers' group helps Utahns cope with pandemic

Posted at 6:38 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-09 20:38:12-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah COVID-19 Long Haulers Facebook group was created for people dealing with the long-term effects of the virus.

"The uncertainty is really scary because we still don't know if we ever go back to who we were," said the creator of the page, Lisa O'Brien.

She said is optimistic that the new COVID-19 guidelines issued by Governor Herbert will help to lower cases.

"I am hopeful that our numbers will start to come down," O'Brien said. "I think a lot of us in my group are glad to see that he's taking more action."

But she, and members of the Facebook group, wish the more restrictive guidelines would have come earlier in the pandemic.

"I actually do think that they should've taken measures sooner," she added.

O'Brien said she thinks sooner action on behalf of the state government could have prevented many from dealing with what members of the Utah COVID-19 Long Haulers have experienced.

"Members have had fevers on and off for seven months straight," she added. "We had one member who had to have a hysterectomy from COVID. Just a lot of crazy stuff."

O'Brien got sick with COVID-19 in March, early on in the pandemic, but she is still dealing with the effects to this day.

"I think I'm at 243 days now," she said. "I don't know how I lived through month three and four."

Her life has not been the same ever since.

"Even just going on slow walks, my heart rate's not regulated," O'Brien said. "It will hit like 80 and then 120 and then 50 and then 115 and then 70, just on a slow short walk."

O'Brien said she and members of her group dealing with the months and months of post-recovery symptoms are "mourning the lives [they] used to live."

Although the new guidelines and mask mandate feel too restrictive to some, she says she would do anything if it meant she would've never caught in the first place.

"If I could go back and it even gave me a 1% chance of not getting it, and not having to go through what I've gone through in the last 8 months, I'd do whatever it took," she said.

Now she just hopes people across the state will feel the same.

"It's temporary. It's not going to be forever you know?" O'Brien said. "Just take these temporary precautions now."

O'Brien and the COVID-19 Long Haulers have sent a letter to the Governor asking him for more funding and more research to help people dealing with the long-term effects of the virus.

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They hope to add "post-COVID care centers" to the list of resources for people who are sick with the virus, as well as possible subsidies like paid leave and disability to help those who may have lost a job due to COVID-19.