By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The misery from people sick with COVID-19 may last longer than first thought. WCCO looked into the lingering symptoms leading to a new group of virus survivors known as “long-haulers.”

“Nine of us got sick with COVID-19 but none got really sick except me,” James Cha said.

Doctors believe it was a family fishing trip in July that exposed 51-year-old James Cha to COVID-19. He spent six days in the hospital and went home with oxygen as he continued his struggle to breathe.

“I downed about three bottles of cough syrup in the last three weeks,” Cha said.

Still, 44 days since his diagnosis, between that cough syrup, prescription and inhaler, he can’t seem to shake it.

“It feels like right now something is down here and my chest I still feel it’s a little bit congested,” he said.

Cha has also noticed problems with his memory ever since. He is one of a growing number of people who report feeling sick months after a positive case of COVID-19.

One study said as many as 75% of hospitalized patients experience long-term symptoms and fall into that long-hauler category. Minnesota’s Department of Health told WCCO it’s doing some specific follow-up and case control studies to figure out what might be happening here.

“I think it really emphasizes why it’s important we take COVID so seriously. It’s not just the symptoms that you have initially it’s how the virus effects your health for the long-term,” Kris Ehresmann, the Director of Minnesota Departments of Health Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division said.

Cha plans to see his doctor again in a couple of weeks if he’s not better.

“After a full day of work I get really tired,” he also noted.

As he hopes to be able to breathe easier soon.

“It’s real. COVID is real,” he added.

Researchers are also studying the role blood type might play with COVID-19. In a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, people with type “A” blood had a 50% greater risk of needing oxygen or a ventilator if they had the virus.

Cha told us his medical staff also mentioned this and that he is “A” positive

Liz Collin