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SLO County Public Health kickstarts survey on Long COVID

If you’ve tested positive for COVID, you’re likely one of 50,000 people who received a text message Monday morning
Posted at 9:16 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-12 12:43:33-04

Health officials are gathering information on the long-term effects of the coronavirus in San Luis Obispo County.

If you’ve tested positive for COVID, you’re likely one of 50,000 people who received a text message Monday morning.

SLO County Public Health is hoping to find out how many people are experiencing long COVID symptoms.

“This is a novel virus so we don’t actually know what it does or what it can do,” said Arroyo Grande resident Hillary Klein. “I still have the brain fog; I still lose my train of thought a lot of the time.”

Long COVID is a condition that has mostly been researched at the statewide, or national level--until now.

On Monday, health officials kick-started a survey to gather information on so-called long haulers, in San Luis Obispo County.

“This follow-up survey is really about understanding how this virus is affecting residents’ health over the long term—including people who had severe, mild or even no symptoms,” said Tom Cuddy, SLO County Public Health Information Officer.

Ongoing health issues develop at least four weeks after the first infection. There are a wide range of symptoms that can last for months, even years.

“I’m still dealing with them, I tested positive right around April 17th of 2021,” said Klein. “I was out of work for 10 months. It damaged my vocal chords, I’m actually still in speech therapy.”

Klein says her symptoms have lasted much longer than she would have ever anticipated.

“I’ve still got that pressure on my chest, stamina issues, fatigue issues. It takes a lot for me to get up and go to work every day and come home and try to function,” she said.

Health officials say that gathering information if the first step in understanding a condition that is largely still a mystery.

“It does present challenges and there are many symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, headaches, hearing loss, loss of taste and smell among many others,” said Cuddy.

Information from the survey will allow public health to shift resources in order to address long-term health problems.

“All of the sudden, more people than I’ve personally ever known are getting COVID right now,” said San Luis Obispo resident Holly Garcia. “I think that’s extremely important, the more knowledge we have, the better—because knowledge is power.”

More than 2,500 hundred people had responded to the survey as of late Monday afternoon.

The questionnaire takes about five minutes to complete.