NewsArizona News


Arizona long-haulers push for post-COVID care center

Posted at 7:49 AM, Apr 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-06 10:49:02-04

They survived COVID-19, but they're still dealing with mysterious symptoms. Thousands across the country are calling themselves COVID-19 long-haulers, and there's a push to bring some much-needed care to those still suffering in Arizona.

Sebrina Shaw, a defense attorney in Cottonwood, Arizona is one of them.

"I had two separate infections," she said. "The second one was much worse for me. I had breathing problems. I had to be on breathing treatments at home."

After testing positive for COVID-19 last summer, Shaw says the trouble breathing, fatigue, headaches and foggy memory followed her for months.

“That obviously is emotionally devastating and can be very difficult just to realize you’re not where you once were," she said. "So, that part obviously still stays with you just because it’s humbling and it’s hard."

Unfortunately, Shaw's story isn't unique.

Utah resident Lisa O'brien's experience with COVID-19 prompted her to create a long-haulers Facebook group. It now has more than 2,000 members. She then branched out to other states, like Arizona.

"I would just kind of guide them and to grow the page and get resources like I did here in Utah," O'brien said.

O'brien says Arizona is one of 18 states that does not have a post-COVID care center. She says having a personalized team of doctors that are up to date on long-hauler symptoms would be beneficial.

“We’re still seeing in all the groups people going to doctors and their doctors having no clue that it even exists," she said.

She says her push for one in Utah wasn't easy.

“I’ve reached out to a lot of state leaders and a lot of times I was met with silence," O'brien said.

But her resilience paid off and work is now underway to create one in Utah. The women say the hope is that the same thing can happen for Arizona.

“We can all have our doctors working together instead of going to five different specialists or doctors and trying to figure out what’s supposed to be done," Shaw said.

The women have captured the attention of ASU researchers, who are in the process of applying for a grant through the National Institutes of Health.

Vice President for Research for ASU's Knowledge Enterprise Neal Woodbury says they are working to find out how to mitigate long-hauler symptoms and how those symptoms can be prevented.

He says ASU currently works with hospitals across the state, but the data is all over the place. Through their research, they are working to make that data more cohesive.