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Utah woman still tests positive for COVID-19 after months

Posted at 10:23 PM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 00:48:47-04

Two questions we see a lot in our COVID-19 coverage are: "How long can someone be positive for?" and "Can someone test positive for coronavirus and catch it again?"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most cases of COVID-19 resolve in 7-10 days, but in rare cases it can last much longer.

“It had been a month and a half since the last test, and of course that means I would be negative… And I was positive again,” Wendy Newman told FOX 13.

By her count, she has been sick with COVID-19 for 71 days. More than a month and a half after her first positive test, she received another test — which was also positive.

She says that she tested positive first on March 31, and even though there has been ups and downs, she hasn’t felt fully back to normal since.

“I have the extreme fatigue… I have the occasional headaches and some muscle weakness… I would actually have what I would characterize as a fairly mild case,” Newman said. “Some days worse than others… This weekend was pretty bad... I don’t think I could’ve done this interview over the weekend.”

Newman’s husband tested positive shortly after she did but has long since recovered.

Dr. Adam Spivak is one of the leading specialists at the forefront of COVID-19 in Utah.

“That’s a great question — we don’t have all the easy answers," he said regarding the question of catching the virus again after already recovering. “We think you do develop an immune response to infection… And you shouldn’t see, in the near term, re-infection.”

As for a situation like Newman's where it is a prolonged case, COVID-19 can act like other viral infections like the flu or other similar illnesses.

“They [usually lose the] fever… They tend to get better from that perspective,” Spivak said."But that cough can persist, fatigue can persist, and unfortunately these are not uncommon with viral respiratory infections.”

And it's the persistent fatigue that Newman feels constantly.

“That’s what I’ve been feeling now for 10 weeks," she said. "If I just rest up a little bit… I’ll be fine. But then I sit here at a computer for half an hour to an hour, and then boom, I’m so tired… after that, I can’t.”

She says many others like her have joined a support group online to talk through what they are going through with the coronavirus.