Life after coronavirus: Prepare for a long, tiring recovery, some Colorado survivors say

More than two months after Martha Pearse first got sick with COVID-19, she’s still working her way back to normal.

Pearse, 81, said she had “daunting” fatigue when she came down with the new coronavirus in mid-April. She also had severe headaches and night sweats, and lost her sense of taste and smell.

As July started, she still was getting brief, but intense, headaches, and has yet to recover her sense of taste and smell — though she’s hopeful those will come back, since her son reported they took time to return when he had the virus. The fatigue lingers, but Pearse said she’s seeing gradual improvement each week.

“You just have to be extremely patient,” she said. “It’s going to last for a lot longer than you think.”

The virus has shown it can cause anything from mild cold-like symptoms to death, and the recovery phase is proving equally hard to pin down. There’s no data yet on how many patients bounce back quickly and how many experience lingering symptoms, but most will eventually recover, said Dr. Connie Price, chief medical officer at Denver Health and a professor of infectious diseases at University of Colorado School of Medicine.

People who had COVID-19 can face three general types of problems. First, it takes time for the immune system to start “cleaning up the mess” of dead cells and debris the virus left in the lungs, Price said. Patients who were on ventilators or spent a long time in the hospital may have to deal with side effects. And some patients — likely a small percentage — will deal with long-term symptoms for reasons that aren’t clear, she said.

Some people, like MJ Vukovich, 38, have a mild illness and an easy recovery. Vukovich said he felt off for about a week, and his wife was sick for 10 days, but they both quickly returned to their normal activities. He isn’t sure if that’s because they were healthy before they got the virus, or if they just got lucky.

“I didn’t slow down or anything,” he said.

Being relatively young doesn’t guarantee an easy time, though. Krissy Schultz, 24, spent two days in the hospital with difficulty breathing, and said it’s taken a month to feel like her lungs are healing. She still has sinus pain, and some days she can’t smell and taste food, though other days those senses are normal.

“The sore throat and headache hurt less than they did when I had full blown symptoms, but they still hurt post-COVID,” she said. “They are about the same every time they come and go, but I’m seeing that they aren’t coming back as often so far.”

Even people with moderate symptoms sometimes find that the recovery process takes longer than expected. Jordana Gringrass, 39, said she was sick for about two weeks, with a few scary days where her fever spiked. She had significant fatigue and on-and-off lightheadedness for another two weeks before she started to feel normal.

“It was like these rollercoaster waves,” she said.

Complicated recoveries

For others, recovery is far more complicated. Stu Howard, 68, had to be placed on a ventilator twice, was in the hospital for six weeks and then spent 20 days in a rehabilitation facility before he was strong enough to continue physical therapy at home.

Howard said he worked out three times a week before getting the virus, but after a long hospital stay with a tube down his throat, he had to practice basics like swallowing and walking. On the first day of rehab, his legs started shaking after standing for about one minute, but now he can climb a flight of stairs and take a walk around the neighborhood — albeit a slow one. He doesn’t feel back to normal yet, but he’s come a long way since his doctors told his wife he might not survive.

“I must have more to do in this lifetime, because I’m here,” he said.

Marc Lemon, CEO of the Denver market for Kindred Healthcare, said they’re seeing a wide variety of needs in patients who had been hospitalized with the virus. Kindred runs long-term acute care hospitals, which treat people who are still sick enough to need hospital-level care, but who can start therapy meant to allow them to go home or to a lower-level facility.

Some coronavirus patients come with lung complications, Lemon said, while others have damage to multiple organs from sepsis — basically the body’s out-of-control response to an infection. Many are dealing with anxiety and cognitive problems like confusion, particularly if they’ve spent a long time on a ventilator, he said.

“There’s not a one-size-fits-all for COVID-19 patients,” he said.

Most patients who need long-term hospital care are older and had chronic conditions before being hospitalized, Lemon said, but they’re seeing a handful of people as young as their 30s. He estimated about half of patients go home directly from their hospital, and the other half go to a nursing home or rehab facility to keep recovering.

“If you’ve been in a bed for 30 days on a ventilator, you’re not going to be able to just get up and start walking,” he said.

Longer-term effects

What remains to be seen is how many patients continue to have symptoms after the body has healed any damage from the virus itself or the treatment. A small percentage of people who had other severe coronaviruses, like SARS and MERS, developed chronic lung, heart or neurological problems, and anxiety and depression weren’t uncommon, Price said.

Scientists have different theories about why some people experience long-term symptoms, including an immune overreaction or that the virus triggers changes in the other microbes living in the body, Price said. It’s also not clear if the psychiatric effects were the result of the virus attacking the nervous system, or if they came from the fear of dealing with a new disease, she said.

Dr. Mitchell Miglis, an assistant professor of neurology at Stanford University, said he and other researchers are working on a study to try to answer some of those questions. They’re particularly interested in people who have long-term symptoms related to the body’s automatic functions, like excessive sweating, a fast heart rate and digestive problems, he said.

There’s precedent for people developing problems with the body’s automatic functions after an infection, though it’s not common, Miglis said. Scientists aren’t sure who’s at risk of long-term symptoms from COVID-19, though women are more likely to develop chronic conditions from other viruses, he said.

“Hopefully we’ll have more answers in six months or a year,” he said.

Ultimately, most people likely won’t have long-term symptoms, based on how patients recovered from previous coronaviruses, Price said. It’s important to be patient with your body, and to talk to your doctor about how to manage specific symptoms, she said.

“Most likely, you will fully recover,” she said. “Some will just take more time.”

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Ugandan dies after setting fire to himself 'over police bribe'

Police say Hussein Walugembe set fire to himself after officers demanded a bribe to release his motorcycle.

A Ugandan man has died after setting fire to himself in a police station when officers allegedly demanded a bribe to release his motorcycle, which he was using as a taxi and which had been impounded over violation of coronavirus restrictions.

The case has provoked anger among Ugandans who say it reflects widespread abuse by security personnel, including beatings, detentions and extortion that in the current climate are often disguised as enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.

The rider, Hussein Walugembe, had recently acquired his motorcycle and it was being driven by a colleague when it was impounded on Tuesday for violating a dusk-to-dawn curfew, regional police spokesman Nsubuga Mohammed said.

On Thursday, Walugembe came to the police station in the town of Masaka to claim the bike but was frustrated by some police officers who demanded he pay a bribe, Mohammed said.

After his pleas to the police officer responsible for traffic violations to release his bike were rejected, he doused himself with gasoline, which he had concealed in a container in his jacket, and set himself on fire.

“He attempted to grab the officer, for them to die together, but he escaped with minor burns, leaving the victim behind,” the national police headquarters said in a statement.

Police are investigating allegations of “extortion and bribery” at the station, the statement said, adding that two police officers have been arrested. Masaka is about 130 km (80 miles) south of the capital, Kampala.

Uganda implemented one of Africa’s strictest lockdowns to curb the coronavirus and has kept infections relatively low at under 1,000 confirmed cases, with no reported deaths. The government has loosened some of the restrictions but some remain.

Critics have accused President Yoweri Museveni’s government of using the pandemic to repress rights and harass opponents ahead of a general election due early next year.

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Murder probe launched after man in his 60s dies at Essex care home

A murder investigation has been launched after a man in his 60s died at a care home in Essex.

Officers were called to the residential care facility in Wickford at around 7pm on Thursday, Essex Police said.

They found a man in his 60s who had been seriously assaulted and called paramedics who tried to save him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 43-year-old man from Wickford was arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody.

On New Year’s Eve last year a man was stabbed inside the same care home.

The victim, a man in his 40s, was taken to hospital, but his injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.

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Elephant deaths: Mystery after hundreds of animals die in Botswana

Officials in Botswana are investigating the unexplained deaths of at least 350 elephants in just a few weeks.

Elephants were first reported to have died in the Okavango Delta, northern Botswana at the beginning of May.

By mid-June, the number of deaths stood at 169, but this figure has now more than doubled, with an aerial survey revealing 70% of the carcasses centred on watering holes.

The cause of the deaths is not yet known, but the government claims the two most likely possibilities – poisoning by humans and anthrax – have already been ruled out.

Dr Niall McCann, director of conservation at the UK-based charity National Park Rescue, described the situation as a “catastrophic die-off” and called for a further probe.

He told Sky News: “At least 350 elephants have died – the scale of it is astonishing.

“Botswana is home to a third of Africa’s elephants and 10% of those are in this region, so this could have a real impact on the global population.”

Locals claim both male and female elephants of all ages have died.

They have also reported seeing the creatures stumbling around in circles before they die, suggesting they may have been neurologically impaired.

Dr McCann said experts on the ground are not yet sure whether the substance behind the deaths is naturally-occurring or administered by humans.

He added: “It could make its way to humans and that’s very worrying at a time when the transmission of diseases from animals to humans is very much on people’s minds because of the coronavirus.”

People living nearby say they have seen several more elephants looking weak, which means the number of deaths could increase further.

Dr McCann said it is the “most shocking conservation event of his lifetime”.

Elephants and eco-tourism account for a huge part of Botswana’s GDP, which means this could risk an economic crisis as well as a public health one.

“We desperately need to get to the bottom of this,” he said.

The main threat to Africa’s elephant population is poaching, but in Botswana, numbers have grown from 80,000 in the late 1990s to 130,000 in recent years.

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Man, 24, arrested after statue of slave trader Edward Colston was torn down

A man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage after a statue of slave trader Edward Colston was pulled down during an anti-racism protest in Bristol.

The bronze memorial to the 17th Century slave trader, which has been in the city centre since 1895, was torn down during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7 and was later dumped into Bristol harbour.

A 24-year-old man has now been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage by police investigating the incident, Avon and Somerset Police said.

It is understood he is the first person to be arrested in relation to the incident, as no arrests were made at the time.

The force said it would be reviewing footage of a ‘small group of people’ who were filmed pulling down the statue with ropes. The investigation is ongoing, added police.

During the protest, the statue was torn down with rope, dragged through the streets of Bristol, and thrown into the water near Pero’s Bridge – named in honour of an enslaved man.

Bristol council has since retrieved the statue, which will now be displayed in a museum along with placards from the Black Lives Matter protest.

Detective Superintendent Liz Hughes said in an appeal on June 22: ‘The incident attracted worldwide attention and there’s no denying it has polarised public opinion – but in the eyes of the law a crime has been committed and we’re duty-bound to investigate this without fear or favour.

‘I’d like to reassure people we’re carrying out a thorough, fair and proportionate investigation and have sought early investigative advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.’

Anyone with information is asked to contact the force on 101, providing the reference number 5220123926, or anonymously via the charity Crimestoppers.

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Welder, 36, found dead after consuming too much caffeine

A welder died from consuming too much caffeine, an inquest has heard.

Polish national Lukasz Sandelewski, 36, was found dead in his room at a shared house in Peterborough after his mother became concerned and asked one of his housemates to check on him in December last year.

It is unclear how he consumed the caffeine, but a coroner said his room was “very cluttered with lots of empty drinking vessels on the floor”.

Mr Sandelewski had a blood caffeine concentration of 282 micrograms of caffeine per millilitre of blood when he died, the inquest in Huntingdon heard.

Any level above 80 micrograms of caffeine per millilitre of blood can be fatal.

The inquest recorded a verdict of misadventure, meaning the death was caused accidentally without intent to harm.

Cambridgeshire assistant coroner Sean Horstead said: “It’s unclear how or by what means the deceased consumed very significant levels of caffeine but caffeine toxicity is the cause of his death.

“His death was the unintended consequence of a deliberate act.

“He deliberately consumed a significant and fatal quantity of caffeine but I’m satisfied the consequences of that weren’t intended by him.”

Mr Horstead said there was no evidence that Mr Sandelewski intended to end his life and there was no suicide note.

The inquest heard the 36-year-old returned home at 1am on 5 December and was heard “shouting and talking loudly” on the phone through the night until around 7am.

That evening, one of the housemates received a Facebook message from Mr Sandelewski’s mother asking to check where he was, as she had not heard from him.

The housemate then went to Mr Sandelewski’s room and found him unresponsive, face down on the floor by his mattress.

Police who were called to the home found no visible injuries to the welder.

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Sisters open brewery after dad taught them how to make beer for fun

Four sisters have opened a brewery after their dad decided to teach them how to brew beer for fun. Jennifer Mathis and her three sisters, from Houston, Texas, used to make the drink at home in their spare time but have since turned professional, and serve their beer to hundreds of thirsty Texans.

Through years of ‘makin’ some and drinkin’ some for fun, Jennifer, 28 and her dad, Larry, 74, became so good at making beer they have taken their passion for ale to the next level. The father and daughter duo are now the proud owner and founder of the popular 4J Brewing Company – named after Navy veteran Larry’s four daughters, Jennifer, Jessica, 37, Jackie, 35 and Joanna, 33.

Jennifer, who co-owns and runs the business with her mom, Marilyn, 65, said: ‘My granddad and my dad have brewed beer as a hobby for years, and me and my sisters joined in to help out when we were growing up.

‘We loved sharing our home brews and used to take kegs over to parties and threw parties when we had beer to share, so that people could try them out too. We have always known our beers are good and other people always seemed to enjoy it too.

‘When we started to get serious about it we were making about 15 gallons of beer a week. I still brew the beers today and we still sell the same beers that me and my dad crafted at home.

‘The locals have been great to us and we’ve always had a brilliant following. People love having a local brewery and it feels awesome to be where we are now, we are really pleased with what we have built up.’

The Edwards’ family have enjoyed brewing beer for generations, but it was only in 2014 that Jennifer and Larry realized they’d gotten good enough at it to turn professional.

All four of his daughters helped out and brewed their own blends of beer for fun at the family home, and the more beer they brewed the better they became at making pub-quality booze. By 2014, Jennifer and Larry had perfected the art of brewing several types of beer, including a dark and light blend, as well as red, stout amber and pale ales.

Jennifer was made redundant from her banking job the following year, and used her severance package and saving to apply for a brewery license and turn professional. She was able to use several vacant barns on her family’s sprawling ranch, and gradually bought all the equipment needed to set up her brewery.

‘I just love the science of brewing’, said Jennifer, who is married to fellow brewery owner 32-year-old Garrison.

‘I find it fascinating and over the years we have refined our process, made adjustments and have beers that we are proud of.

‘We started brewing beer just to have a good time to be honest, and it just went from there. We had so much fun and because we did it so much, we got better at it.’

Under the day-to-day management of Jennifer and her mom, Marilyn, the first pints of beers flowed out of 4J Brewery in March 2018. They built a pub which can seat up to 75 people at any one time, and with a huge seating area outside that can host an extra 200 people.

The Edwards family run the business entirely on their own, with Jennifer and Larry in charge of brewing, Marilyn and Jennifer in charge of the bar and her sisters, Jackie, Jessica and Joanna, providing regular help during weekends at a peak times. 4J Brewery makes four main beers all year round on tap, an IPA, a blonde, a stout and a red beer, and are known for coming up with quirky and sometimes bizarre limited-edition blends.

Jennifer said: ‘We love to have fun with what we make and uses fruits and spices to mix things up.

‘We have done a honey hibiscus blonde and that has been our best seller of all time. We’ve also done a pineapple and coconut blonde, a Russian imperial stout with coffee and lots of different fruity ones.

‘We have always been small and don’t sell to bars and restaurants, so the only place to get our beer is right here. We have our regulars and it’s been really nice to see people forge friendships in our bar.

‘We are one of the only all-female owner breweries in Texas and we are proud to be quite successful, but we know there’s still so much we can do.’

Like many businesses in the US, 4J Brewery has been rocked by the coronavirus pandemic and country-wide lockdown measures. After re-opening following several weeks of state-enforced closures, all pubs and bars have been forced to call last orders and shutdown once again due to a ‘dangerous turn’ in confirmed coronavirus cases in Texas.

The state has joined several southern and western states to re-enforce lockdown measures following a surge in cases after lockdown restrictions were eased. Texas has logged 159,000 cases and 2,430 deaths since the outbreak began in March, as more than 2.6 million cases and 504,000 deaths have been recorded in the US as a whole.

But despite suffering financial pressures due to the lockdown, Jennifer added 4J Brewing Company is surviving throughout the pandemic and said she is looking forward to welcoming drinkers back to her bar when local restrictions allow.

To find out more about 4J Brewing Company visit its website, here.

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Police arrest man after Charles Dickens museum in Kent targeted with graffiti

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of criminal damage after graffiti was found on the side of a Charles Dickens museum in Kent.

The attraction in Broadstairs, which was the author’s inspiration for the home of Betsey Trotwood in David Copperfield, had the words “Dickens racist” written on the front of the property.

It appeared over the weekend and a Kent Police spokesman said the 63-year-old suspect remained in custody as enquiries continue.

Thanet District Council, which runs the Dickens House Museum, has criticised the graffiti.

In a statement to KentOnline, a council spokesman said: “As a council, we comply with our Public Sector Equality Duty and are committed to tackling racial inequality but there is still more to be done.

“The Black Lives Matter protests are an important reminder that we must never become complacent about any form of inequality so, as part of this, we are reviewing all the statues and commemorations within the district.

“We do not, however, condone damage to public property and have had the graffiti removed this morning.”

Like other museums up and down the UK, Dickens House Museum has had to remain closed due to coronavirus.

Such venues will be allowed to reopen in England from this Saturday.

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New pub rules after lockdown: No shouting, no loud music and no big groups

Pubs will be a very different place to drink when they reopen on July 4, with no big groups, no raised voices and no loud music permitted.

Strict new government guidelines for the hospitality industry were published on Wednesday, posing big challenges for restaurants, bars, hotels, theme parks and hairdressers.

No live performances, loud music or TV will be allowed in pubs and restaurants in order to avoid people shouting, an action that could potentially increase the spread of coronavirus via aerosol transmission.

The guidance reads: ‘All venues should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other.

‘This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult.’

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When sitting inside pubs or restaurants, people will be allowed to gather at a social distance in groups of six, with a maximum of two households involved.

The six person limit remains in pub gardens, although friends from more than two households will be allowed to socialise.

Drinkers are banned from standing at the bar and will enjoy table service, with limits to how many people can gather inside and outside.

Police still have the power to break up ‘large and irresponsible’ gatherings, Downing Street has confirmed.

It follows an announcement that all venues will be expected to keep a record of people who visit to enable contact tracing.

The chief executive of UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls has named the new data collection rules ‘incredibly challenging’.

She said: ‘With 11 days to go it is just not practical to develop a new system in one fell swoop.’

Chief executive of the BBPA, Emma McClarkin added: ‘We do have significant concerns over the collection and storage of personal customer data.’

The government has told restaurants to replace condiment bottles with sachets and announced that cutlery should only be brought to the table with the food.

Meanwhile, customers at hotels are expected to wear masks in the corridors and avoid lifts, while room services will be left outside on trays.

Staggered check-in times will take place to avoid contact, while those sharing bathrooms may be required to reserve shower times.

Those gettings their hair cut will wear disposable gowns during their slot, while their hairdresser will wear a visor.

An appointment-only system is encouraged, while alternate chairs must be closed off and face-to-face procedures banned.

All establishments will be expected to follow basic hygiene requirements, with hand sanitiser offered on entry.

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