Health officials troubled about long-term effects of COVID-19

Coronavirus in Kentucky

BOYD COUNTY, KY (WOWK) — For weeks, health experts have warned of a big surge in COVID-19 cases following the holidays.

In one county in Kentucky, the effects of the holidays are beginning to take shape.

Health officials warned of a big surge in COVID-19 cases following the holidays. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

Most of the counties in the state of Kentucky are in the red category, including Boyd County.

Not only are health officials worried about what the holiday spike in infections will look like, but also about what the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be in the area.

“We were seeing lower numbers, and then the holidays hit.” 

Tim England, director of emergency management, Ashland, Boyd County, Catlettsburg

There have been 57 new positive cases and 214 active cases as of Tuesday, and those numbers could be going up.

“We could see in the next few days the effects of New Years Eve, we still could see effects from Christmas.”

Tim England, director of emergency management, Ashland, Boyd County, Catlettsburg

“We had done about 47 rapid tests the week before Christmas, and about 21 percent of those came back positive.” 

Tyler Elam, D.O., family practice physician, Primary Plus

What’s increasingly troubling about the high amount of cases is not only the strain on the local hospital—it’s the long-term outlook for those who have survived the infection.

“We’ve seen folks, and one in particular now, that was discharged and then had to be readmitted just a few days later.” 

Tim England, director of emergency management, Ashland, Boyd County, Catlettsburg

Health professionals say not only is the initial infection of COVID-19 hard on the body, but the long-term effects can be just as devastating.

Tyler Elam demonstrates the rapid test machine. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

Family practice physician Tyler Elam says the most prevalent post-COVID symptoms they’ve seen were lingering loss of smell and taste, but there have been others as well.

“A couple of isolated instances, I know there have been some patients who have had some lasting neurologic effects. A couple of cases of facial palsies.” 

Tyler Elam, D.O., family practice physician, Primary Plus

County emergency management agency director Tim England says he’s also seen the long-term effects in employees and officials across the county.

“Their lungs have to be rehabbed, they’re just having a lot of issues so that you see a lot on oxygen and a lot of pulmonary function a lot of pulmonary rehab and stuff.” 

Tim England, director of emergency management, Ashland, Boyd County, Catlettsburg

They remain hopeful for a better year ahead now that the vaccine is being rolled out, but say it isn’t over yet.

“Everyone is COVID fatigued, everyone was holding on to the hope of 20-21, but new year, same old COVID.” 

Tyler Elam, D.O., family practice physician, Primary Plus

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