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Henry Ford Health System Leaders Say Long COVID May Be Worse Than Initial Illness

Leaders of the Henry Ford Health System held a press conference on Friday to provide an update on COVID-19 – and while most of the news was trending in the positive direction with the recent drop in cases, there was a appeal to the community not to intentionally try to catch the virus. There was also a focus on the long COVID as it continues to impact patients across the state.

Symptoms of long COVID, officials say, are wide-ranging and can include loss of taste or smell, severe fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, mobility issues, breathing issues, psychological issues, fever and headache.

“The illness can be worse than the original illness,” Dennis said. “Intentionally trying to catch COVID can put others at risk,” said Dennis Cunningham, medical director of infection control and prevention at Henry Ford Health System.

On Friday, Michigan reported 9,805 new cases in two days, with an average of 4,903 cases per day. In the Henry Ford Health System, leaders say they have dropped to 233 hospitalized COVID patients from 304 earlier in the week. At its peak, the system was supporting more than 500 COVID patients.

Henry Ford currently has a long-term COVID research program. One of their patients, Jeff Whitmer of Sylvan Lake, says some days are better than others as he battles COVID for a long time.

“It’s like going through a 5 or 6 hour basketball practice where you’re constantly running…no matter how much rest I get,” he said.

Jeff said it all started as a mild case of COVID in November 2020.

“I really never got better,” he said.

Whitmer said her entire family is now vaccinated against COVID-19. He said his wife and son had to help take on extra duties as he continued to deal with a lengthy COVID.

“It’s very stressful for all of us,” he said.

Dr. Eunice Yu of Henry Ford Health System said it’s rare to see long COVID in patients who are up to date on vaccinations with a booster.

“The only way to prevent long COVID is to not get COVID in the first place,” Dr. Yu said. She encourages vaccinations and other preventative measures.

For more information on the Henry Ford program, click here.

Additional coronavirus information and resources:

See a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See full coverage on our Coronavirus continuous cover page.