Coronavirus: Symptoms linger for many COVID-19 patients after negative test

NEW YORK (WABC) -- While the progress in the battle against COVID-19 is heartbreakingly slow, it appears our area is moving from the acute stage of the pandemic to its aftershocks.

Many coronavirus survivors are now 20, 30, even 40 days out since testing positive. But have they truly recovered?

Kerri Noeth is on day 36, but she's been to the ER twice since the 14 day mark with odd lingering symptoms.

"A burning and tingling across my chest and my neck that came with a hot flash," she said. "It's just been a wide range of lingering symptoms, particularly heart palpitations, and extreme discomfort in my chest and in my ribs."

Susan Silverman is on day 38.

"I guess I would love to get my sense of taste and smell back," she said. "A sore arm, vertigo, all these things are not totally tied into a respiratory disease."

Dr. Janet Shapiro, a critical care physician at Mount Sinai Morningside, is back at work and on the mend after mild heart dysfunction diagnosed after her COVID-19 recovery.

"I'm used to running around the hospital and being in different places," she said. "And I couldn't go very far without my heart racing and not being able to catch my breath."

And so the question is, what can survivors do about these symptoms? Will they simply fade away? It's too soon to tell, experts say, and while there's no national database yet, there is emerging research.

Dr. Reynold Panettieri, a Rutgers pulmonologist, is now running a six month tracking study on more than 800 health care workers and patients at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

"The good news is, you're going to be followed extremely closely by us," he said. "What we usually get with any illness, is a legacy, a history. We know what to expect. When everyone out of the box is sick at the same time, we have no history."

They'll be followed every two weeks, but for patients not treated at a hospital, it's up to their physicians. Experts urge patients to keep diaries as they work harder to solve a new disconnect between that negative test and long term recovery.

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