News – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Tue, 20 Oct 2020 18:05:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 http://www.pagosasun.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/cropped-sun-logo-512x512-1-32x32.jpg News – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com 32 32 Wildlife on the move: Fall brings an increase of wildlife-vehicle collisions http://www.pagosasun.com/wildlife-on-the-move-fall-brings-an-increase-of-wildlife-vehicle-collisions/ Wed, 21 Oct 2020 11:00:48 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211862 Colorado Department of Transportation

As spring and summer fade into fall and winter, the migration of wildlife can lead to an increase of wildlife-vehicle collisions. 

Motorists should be aware that wildlife can cross roads without warning at any time of day or night, but drivers should pay particularly close attention in early morning and evening hours. A majority of wildlife-vehicle collisions occur from dusk to dawn, when wildlife are more active and unfortunately more difficult to see.

The following precautions are advised to travelers: 

 • Slow down. Traveling at high speeds increases the danger of a crash. Moderate speeds maintain a driver’s reaction time and allow an appropriate response to animals on or near roads.

• Stay alert. Pay close attention to the roadway, particularly while driving between dusk and dawn. This is when deer and other common wildlife are most active and more likely to be crossing roadways. Flickering headlights from oncoming cars or tail lights of the vehicles in front of you may indicate an animal crossing the road.

• Scan ahead. Watch for movement and shining eyes along roadsides. If you see one animal, you should expect it will be accompanied by others.

• Obey traffic signs. Many highways have wildlife warning signs intended to alert motorists of known wildlife movement areas. Though incidents can happen anywhere, transportation authorities attempt to reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions by posting signage and lowering speeds in areas where wildlife are active.

• Give warning. When animals are seen on or near the road, slow down or stop (if no other cars are behind you), honk the horn and flash headlights. This warns the animal to avoid the road and alerts other drivers in oncoming vehicles to the potential hazard.

• Always wear seat belts. Unfortunately, not every collision is avoidable, and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration states that the risk of serious injury and death in a crash is reduced by half when seat belts are worn.

Drivers involved in a wildlife-vehicle collision should report the accident to the Colorado State Patrol by calling *CSP (star key and 277). Should a crash with wildlife occur, remember to slow down and concentrate on retaining control of the vehicle, be aware of your surroundings, especially other vehicles, and move your vehicle to a safe position off the road.

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More than 15,000 Colorado crashes involved distracted drivers in 2019 http://www.pagosasun.com/more-than-15000-colorado-crashes-involved-distracted-drivers-in-2019/ Wed, 21 Oct 2020 11:00:28 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211864 Despite the risks, 92 percent of surveyed drivers still admit to driving distracted

Colorado Department of Transportation

Distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of vehicle crashes on Colorado roads. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), distracted drivers were involved in 15,143 crashes on Colorado roads in 2019, resulting in 4,361 injuries and 28 fatalities. As people hit the road for fall foliage and winter activities, CDOT reminds drivers to drop the distraction and focus on the road ahead.

“Distracted driving continues to be a prevalent issue on Colorado roads, but is easy to fix,” said Darrell Lingk, CDOT director of the Office of Transportation Safety. “Every time you are tempted to reach for your phone or take your eyes off the road, stop and think about the lives at risk and make a safer decision.” 

Despite the notable risks of a crash, Colorado drivers continue to succumb to distracted driving on a regular basis. According to CDOT’s 2020 driving behavior survey, 92 percent of respondents reported driving distracted in the past seven days. The most common distractions included eating or drinking, selecting entertainment on a device, talking on a hands-free cellphone, and reading or sending a message on a cellphone.

“Colorado drivers continue to engage in distracting activities while driving,” said Lingk. “With fall in full swing and winter sports and holidays on the horizon, we encourage people to stay focused on the road and put distractions aside.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month led by the National Safety Council (NSC) was rescheduled from April to October this year. CDOT is partnering with NSC this month to raise awareness for this critical nationwide issue as Coloradans hit the road to enjoy the changing seasons. As you plan your next outing, CDOT suggests the following tips to help you stay focused on the road:

• Turn your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode before you start moving to minimize distractions.

• If you have a passenger, assign them to be your “designated texter” to respond to calls or messages while on the move.

• Plan stops along your route to pull over and park your car to safely enjoy a snack, stay hydrated and check your cellphone notifications.

• Select your entertainment settings and GPS options before you start your car so you don’t have to worry about making changes while in motion.

• Enjoy a break from multitasking and use your drive time to enjoy Colorado’s natural beauty — you just might notice something you’ve never seen before.

For more information about distracted driving in Colorado, visit: distraction.codot.gov.

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Suspect sought following Monday incident http://www.pagosasun.com/suspect-sought-following-monday-incident/ Tue, 20 Oct 2020 17:59:22 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211958 By Randi Pierce

Staff Writer

Preliminary information has been released regarding a Monday incident that resulted in an officer discharging his firearm and a wanted suspect.

According to a Tuesday press release from the Pagosa Springs Police Department (PSPD), at approximately 7:48 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19, a PSPD officer was involved in a shooting near the 200 block of Great West Avenue following a vehicle pursuit.

That pursuit began minutes earlier, the press release indicates.

At approximately 7:43 p.m., the release explains, Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) deputies attempted to stop a vehicle on U.S. 160 near Pagosa Boulevard.

The suspect driving that vehicle was identified by ACSO deputies as 27-year-old Danny Shahan, of Chromo. 

The document notes that Shahan failed to stop and led deputies on a pursuit.

“As the suspect vehicle advanced toward the Pagosa Springs police officer and his vehicle, the officer discharged his service weapon,” the release states. 

The release reports the vehicle continued to elude law enforcement and was later located unoccupied.

Shahan is currently wanted, the press release notes, and is described as being a 5-foot-8-inch white male with brown hair and green eyes.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact Archuleta County Combined Dispatch at 731-2160.

The press release also explains that the officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave per policy while the incident is under external and administrative investigation.

“Members of the 6th Judicial District Critical Incident team and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation are conducting the officer involved shooting investigation. Consistent with protocol, the Pagosa Springs Police Department will not participate in this external, independent investigation,” it states.

The press release later states, “We ask for the public’s patience and understanding during this critical time. A comprehensive investigation takes time, as we are committed to getting this right for everyone involved.”

randi@pagosasun.com

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Meet Pagosa Peak Open School’s Team UP AmeriCorps members http://www.pagosasun.com/meet-pagosa-peak-open-schools-team-up-americorps-members/ Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211804

Madi Neukirch

By Alison Beach
Pagosa Peak Open School

Pagosa Peak Open School is a proud participant of Team UP AmeriCorps, which is a program of the United Way of Southwest Colorado. 

This year, we have two AmeriCorps team members serving our students. Madi Neukirch is a social-emotional learning (SEL) advisor and Jamie McCarthy is an academic achievement advisor. Since these team members are new to our school, we asked a few questions to help our families get to know them better:

Where are you from?

Neukirch: Lincoln, Nebraska

McCarthy: Waukesha, Wisconsin

Why did you decide to join Team UP
AmeriCorps?

Jamie McCarthy

Neukirch: After I graduated college in May, I knew that I wanted to take a break from my education for awhile before going back to get my teaching certificate. AmeriCorps is one year, so it seemed like the perfect amount of time to rest from my own education, while still gaining valuable experience in my career. 

McCarthy: I decided to join the AmeriCorps to start my career in public service.

What attracted you to Pagosa Springs?

Neukirch: I had never really been to Pagosa Springs before I accepted my position here. But since arriving, I’ve totally fallen in love with the town. I spent most of college leading rock climbing and backpacking trips, so I’m happy to be able to push myself in those areas on my own time.

McCarthy: The small-town life of Pagosa Springs is what attracted me to the area. It has such beautiful scenery with a welcoming atmosphere, making it a perfect location.

Why do you want to work with students at a K-7 charter school?

Neukirch: I worked at a summer camp for four summers with kids aged 7-17. While I was there, I learned a totally different way to approach youth development. When I learned about PPOS, I saw a lot of those same practices and values reflected, so I knew right away that it was an environment that I wanted to be a part of. 

McCarthy: I want to work with students at a K-7 charter school to contribute to a school that is contributing so much to its community. Being able to help these students is so rewarding.

What is your favorite
color, food and book?

Neukirch: My favorite color is green, my favorite food is ice cream and my favorite book is “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. 

McCarthy: My favorite color is red, my favorite food is mozzarella sticks, and my favorite book is “The Child Finder.”

Who is your hero?

Neukirch: My hero is my former boss at camp, Nat. She has known me since I was about 10 and has seen me through many challenges, personally and professionally. The reason I look up to her, though, is because she is an amazing role model, who never sacrifices assertiveness nor compassion in the pursuit of being a strong woman and leader.

McCarthy: My mom is my hero. She taught me to be strong, independent, and hard-working. I hope to be as successful as her one day.

Have you ever been to Colorado before joining AmeriCorps? If so, what is your favorite season in Colorado?

Neukirch: I’ve been to Colorado the past four summers to climb fourteeners with my dad. I’ve never been skiing before though, so I’m excited to be around for winter. 

McCarthy: I have only been to Colorado one other time before moving here and that was in summer as well. So, by default summer is my favorite season in Colorado, until I get the chance to experience more.

This is Pagosa Peak Open School’s second year partnering with Team UP AmeriCorps and the school is excited to continue serving our families with AmeriCorps and United Way of Southwest Colorado.

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State health officials offer tips and tricks for Halloween http://www.pagosasun.com/state-health-officials-offer-tips-and-tricks-for-halloween/ Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211866 Colorado Department of
Public Health and Environment

Celebrating Halloween is a cherished fall tradition for many people across Colorado. There are ways to minimize the risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 while still having fun. 

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment advises Coloradans to think carefully about how they can lower the risk, not only for themselves and their families, but for their communities. It is still very important to follow best practices to help prevent the virus from spreading. Coloradans should wear masks that fully cover their nose and mouth, wash hands frequently, and maintain 6 feet of distance from people outside their household. 

The department also reminds Coloradans that parties with alcohol and drugs can cloud judgment and increase riskier behaviors.

Tips and tricks for
Halloween festivities

Follow local guidance. COVID-19 risk varies depending on the spread in specific communities, so follow the guidance of your local public health department. Use Colorado’s COVID dial framework to help determine how to celebrate Halloween in your community this year, especially when considering group sizes.

Protect yourself and others. Regardless of your community’s level on the dial dashboard, people should not participate in any in-person activities, including handing out candy, if they:

• Are sick, especially with COVID-19 symptoms.

• Have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are currently in the quarantine period.

• Have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently in the isolation period.

People at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should think about the risks and benefits of activities they are considering.

Choose the safest options:

• Outdoor gatherings are generally safer than indoor gatherings.

• Smaller groups are generally safer than larger groups.

The department encourages alternatives to traditional, door-to-door trick-or-treating this year to limit the potential spread of COVID-19. Door-to-door trick-or-treating involves mixing a lot of different households at close range over a short period of time. Many short interactions like this could raise the risk of COVID-19 spread. Communicate with neighbors to plan trick-or-treating this year. Get creative and figure out ways to hand out candy while keeping appropriate distance. 

For example:

• Line up individually wrapped treats at the end of the driveway or yard’s edge. Watch the fun and enjoy the costumes from a distance.

• Use a plastic slide, cardboard tubes or plastic pipes to deliver candy from a distance.

• Take kids on an outdoor, distanced scavenger hunt to look for candy or Halloween-themed items. 

Whatever form your trick-or-treating takes, it’s safest to:

• Stay in your own neighborhood.

• Have adults accompany trick-or-treaters to help them follow precautions.

• Stay with household members. Avoid mingling with groups from other households; stay at least 6 feet away from non-household members.

• If going door-to-door, limit the time you spend at doorways.

• Whether trick-or-treating or handing out candy, keep your COVID-19-protective masks on — save the candy eating for when you return home.

• Follow regular Halloween safety tips such as decorating costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and carrying glow sticks or flashlights to help increase visibility among drivers. 

These guidelines include a note about costume masks versus COVID-19-protective masks. Costume masks are not a substitute for cloth face coverings unless they are made from two or more breathable fabric layers that cover the nose and mouth, with no gaps around the face. It is important to wear non-costume masks when indoors around other people and outdoors whenever 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained.

See all the guidelines at: https://covid19.colorado.gov/halloween-tips-and-tricks.

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High school seniors encouraged to apply for Daniels Scholarship http://www.pagosasun.com/high-school-seniors-encouraged-to-apply-for-daniels-scholarship-4/ Tue, 20 Oct 2020 11:00:13 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211802 By Bruce Wilmsen
Daniels Fund

College-bound high school seniors in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are encouraged to visit DanielsFund.org to apply for the Daniels Scholarship Program. The application is open through Nov. 15 at 4 p.m.

The Daniels Scholarship Program provides the opportunity for highly motivated students to earn a bachelor’s degree that helps them build a successful career and rewarding life. Daniels Scholars demonstrate exceptional character, leadership and a commitment to serving their communities.

Bill Daniels would also want his scholars to be proud Americans who value our free enterprise system and are prepared to give the world their very best shot.

The goal of the program is to help each Daniels Scholar succeed in college and ultimately become independent, successful in a rewarding career and actively engaged in their community.

The Daniels Scholarship Program provides a four-year college scholarship that is unique to each student and varies depending on their expected family contribution (EFC) and their choice of school. The scholarship pays up to $25,000 per year toward the student’s unmet need, after applying their EFC, other scholarships and financial aid.

Daniels Scholars may attend any accredited nonprofit college or university in the United States.

Scholar eligibility requirements:

• Be a current high school senior graduating during the 2020-2021 academic year from a high school in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah or Wyoming.

• Be a current resident of one of these four states and a citizen or permanent resident of the U.S.

• Earn a minimum 3.0 high school GPA (on an unweighted 4.0 scale).

• Earn a minimum SAT math score of 490 and a minimum evidence-based reading and writing score of 490, or a minimum ACT score of 18 in each category (writing score not required). Super scoring is not accepted.

• For students who were unable to take the SAT or ACT due to COVID-19 cancellations, they are eligible to apply with a minimum grade point average of 3.3 in high school (on an unweighted 4.0 scale) and do not need to provide standardized test scores.

• The applicant’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must have an adjusted gross income of $85,000 or less on the 2019 tax return on which the applicant appears. For claimed dependents beyond the applicant, there is an allowance for an additional $5,000 for each dependent or $15,000 for each additional dependent in college full time. 

The Daniels Scholarship Program has provided more than $204 million in scholarships to over 4,350 students since the program was launched in 2000.

Visit DanielsFund.org to learn more.

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Free copies of ‘The Little Red Fort’ available for every 4-year-old child in Colorado http://www.pagosasun.com/free-copies-of-the-little-red-fort-available-for-every-4-year-old-child-in-colorado/ Mon, 19 Oct 2020 11:00:21 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211800 Colorado Department of Education

A total of 75,000 free copies of the children’s book “The Little Red Fort,” written by Brenda Maier and illustrated by Sonia Sanchez, will be available in English and Spanish through Oct. 25 for every 4-year-old in the state as part of the One Book Colorado program. 

A copy of “The Little Red Fort” is available for any child who is, or has been, 4 years old in 2020. 

Please come by the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library or attend any program and pick up this free book for your 4-year-old youngster. Better yet, bring them in to pick up their books and see the opportunities for fun and learning that are available free at your library. 

One Book Colorado, now in its ninth year, is a privately funded collaboration among Serve Colorado, the Colorado State Library, the Denver Preschool Program, Denver7, Mile High United Way, and public and military libraries across the state.

The 2020 One Book selection follows Ruby, a girl who finds some old boards and decides to build something. With sprightly text and winsome pictures, “The Little Red Fort” is a modern spin on the timeless tale of “The Little Red Hen” and celebrates the pluck and ingenuity of young creators everywhere. 

“We are so thrilled to be able to offer this year’s book to every 4-year-old in Colorado. Getting books into the hands of our youth is so important and we’re grateful to our sponsors who helped make this happen,” said Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera. “I read to my daughters every night as they were growing up and I am happy to continue this tradition with my three grandchildren today.”

The One Book program stems from the idea that providing young children with access to books promotes early literacy skills and helps parents and families serve as their children’s first and most important teachers. Research has shown that 37 percent of children begin kindergarten without the reading skills necessary for lifelong learning. Children are more likely to show up to their kindergarten classroom ready to read if they have had regular access to books and adults who read with them frequently. Visit the state’s new website, ReadWithMe.Today, to find tips and resources that can help parents make reading a part of their child’s daily routine.

“It is never too early for parents and family members to begin building a child’s love of reading,” said Colorado Education Commissioner Katy Anthes. “By giving every child a book of their own, the One Book program is a great way to engage Colorado’s children who are learning to read. We are grateful that this program offers an opportunity for parents to help their young students develop this essential learning skill.”

For low-income families, access to quality books and early literacy efforts are even more important, as research shows that children in low-income families tend to have fewer books in their homes and are exposed to 30 million fewer words before the age of 4 than their higher-income peers. One Book Colorado aims to help close this vocabulary gap by giving a free book to every 4-year-old in the state. 

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Charter school students introduced to coding http://www.pagosasun.com/charter-school-students-introduced-to-coding/ Sun, 18 Oct 2020 11:00:32 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211794 By Alison Beach and
Farrah Hasen
Pagosa Peak Open School

This week, Pagosa Coders introduced Pagosa Peak Open School students to the idea of coding through hands-on and computer programs. This event was facilitated by the Pagosa Innovation Center. 

With Pagosa Coders, students were able to try out coding through a variety of fun, kinesthetic exercises and get an overview of the possibilities that coding can provide vocationally and recreationally. 

Some of the activities included programming a band to play songs, designing a video game layout and developing a custom level of a popular video game, Flappy Bird.

 

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Heraty takes ninth at state cross-country meet http://www.pagosasun.com/heraty-takes-ninth-at-state-cross-country-meet/ Sat, 17 Oct 2020 18:28:07 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211941

Photo courtesy Lauri Heraty

Pagosa Springs High School senior Gabe Heraty finished ninth overall during this afternoon’s 3A boys’ cross-country race at the state meet in Colorado Springs.

Heraty ran the course in 16 minutes, 58.79 seconds to garner a top-10 spot.

For more on Heraty’s run at the state meet, see next Thursday’s issue of The SUN.

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Colorado ‘COVID long haulers’ suffer coronavirus symptoms weeks, or even months, later http://www.pagosasun.com/colorado-covid-long-haulers-suffer-coronavirus-symptoms-weeks-or-even-months-later/ Sat, 17 Oct 2020 11:00:58 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=211814 By Claire Cleveland
CPR News

In the early hours of an April morning, at her home in Erie, Malea Anderson woke up with what felt like an explosion of ice water up her spine and into her head. She had a massive headache and tried to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, but her limbs wouldn’t cooperate. She feared she was having a stroke. 

Her partner, Randy, took her to the emergency room. The doctor suspected she had COVID-19, but she couldn’t get a test. At the hospital, the 53-year-old had a brain scan that came back normal — no stroke. She was sent home from the hospital, again. 

It was her second visit to the emergency room in a matter of weeks and third since March. She’d had countless telehealth appointments with various primary care physicians, seen specialists and started taking supplements like vitamin D and zinc to help with her long list of symptoms: fatigue, brain fog, exhaustion, headaches, vertigo, shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle aches. 

Some days she feels like she might be getting better. Then she crashes again. 

“I got to where I could walk and function and maybe go make dinner. So I would get up, I would make coffee. And that would determine how the day went,” Anderson said. “Most days I would come back to bed. If I could plan meals for my family, that would be a good day. And then outside of that, I was in bed.”

Anderson isn’t alone. A Facebook group called Survivor Corps for those who describe themselves as “long haulers” has just over 102,000 members. While the World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of COVID-19 infections “are mild or asymptomatic,” and patients recover after two weeks, those who are still suffering question the notion of a “mild” case.

In Colorado, dozens of people report a wide range of lingering symptoms, including shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, fatigue and malaise, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, body aches, brain fog and more. 

“I call it the trifecta. I have fatigue, insomnia and exhaustion,” said Cindy Maetzold, who lives in Snowmass. “But when I say fatigue, I’ll go for a walk, and I’ll come back and I just sit down, do nothing. It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s that I don’t have the energy to do anything.” 

Studies show COVID-19 symptoms can linger, but much is still unknown.

It’s not clear how many people have had lingering symptoms and how many moving forward will. In a multistate phone survey of adults who tested positive for the virus, 35 percent had not returned to their pre-COVID-19 health two to three weeks after their test, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

A small study out of Italy that surveyed 179 patients found that 87 percent of patients who were hospitalized still had symptoms 60 days after they started feeling sick. A small study in Germany found that 78 percent of COVID-19 patients had lingering heart problems two to three months out. 

In Colorado Springs, Dr. Robert Lam and his medical students started surveying patients with COVID-19 after they left the hospital. The survey asks about mental, physical and financial health. Initially, the mental implications of isolation and loneliness stood out, until they started to notice some patients just weren’t recovering.

“Our initial results showed that up to a fourth of patients were still having lingering symptoms of COVID. And so that was something that we didn’t expect,” Lam said. “We are starting to see hints and concerns that there is probably some potential long-term lung damage as we’re not seeing patients recover completely.” 

Lam’s patient population spent time in the hospital, so their long-term impacts will likely be different from those of people like Anderson who were never admitted, never on a ventilator and never treated for COVID-19. 

To complicate matters even more, many patients like Anderson weren’t able to get a PCR test while they were sick because of a lack of tests in the early months of the pandemic. It further distorts the picture of how many people have contracted the virus and, of those, how many still have symptoms. 

‘It doesn’t look like there’s anything to fix and you don’t know how to fix it’

On Jan. 15, Ty Godwin, 58, was in South Africa on a work trip. He works in sales and travels internationally a dozen times a year. That night, he woke up to his sheets wet from sweat. Like most people in the U.S., he hadn’t heard of COVID-19 yet, but he had been traveling internationally for work. What he thought was a normal cold or flu hung on for weeks. 

“I’ve had three CT scans. I’ve had two echocardiograms. I had a $25,000 pet scan of my entire body,” Godwin said. “And I’ve been tested for everything from Lyme disease to HIV, to anything and everything you could imagine.”

None of those tests resulted in a diagnosis. As he learned more, he started to suspect he might have had the coronavirus. It took time and many tests, but his doctor now thinks the culprit is COVID-19. Early on, he had all the common symptoms, although he got an antibody test that came back negative.

He’s been to the doctor at least 40 times since January and he’s registered a fever at some point in the day every day since. 

“I think people have figured out to not ask me, are you feeling better today? There are no good days. There are good hours in the day. Typically, mornings are pretty decent, but, you know, yesterday I had a fever at 10:30 in the morning,” Godwin said. “There’s a time when, I call it the witching hour, where more debilitating fatigue would kick in at the end of my business day and sometimes that creeps in during the day.” 

After months of research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, much still remains unclear. There’s no approved treatment nor vaccine, yet, and so doctors are left to use trial treatments and focus on treating symptoms. 

“When you’ve done your traditional testing and you’ve looked at CAT scans and functional tests, and looked at the data and everything is normal, it’s also frustrating for docs out there because they don’t know what to do,” said Dr. Nir Goldstein, a pulmonologist at National Jewish Health. “It doesn’t look like there’s anything to fix and you don’t know how to fix it. We can at least offer these patients some guidance and at least make them feel like they’re not alone and they’re not crazy.” 

Some patients have struggled with their doctors not believing them, a phenomenon that’s been documented more often in female patients. Anderson met with a new primary care provider looking for more answers. She was telling him about her shortness of breath when he suggested that perhaps she had anxiety. 

“I was like, I do not have anxiety,” she said. “And he’s still only sort of taking me seriously, but I did get a referral to a neurologist. And, um, she listened, but they don’t know. They just don’t know what’s going on. You know, they prescribed me the low half of a low dose of anxiety medicine. And it has not really helped.”

And not everyone has found their community to be more supportive.

“When I talk to people who knew I had COVID back in May, and I talk to them now, they find out I’m still recovering, they tend to be really surprised,” said Paul Nielsen, a 60-year-old data architect who lives in Colorado Springs. “I think people don’t understand how much damage it does to your body.” 

Nielsen turned to the Internet to find community in online forums like Survivor Corps that helped him to navigate the disease process. He also found a community of people who understood what he was going through. But, there are also people in other Facebook groups who don’t understand.

“I find it very frustrating when people say the pandemic is a hoax, or it’s just being politicized or they don’t feel like they need to wear a mask. Or there’s an easy cure with hydroxychloroquine, plus a z-pack plus zinc,” he said. “I know from my experience, that the COVID disease is much more complex than any one simple, you know, here you go, it’s cured.” 

The lives of people with lingering symptoms have been flattened and, in many cases, reduced to long bouts of fatigue, racing heart rate and brain fog. 

“I like to say I’m relatively intelligent and sort of articulate, and now I feel like I’m completely inarticulate and incapable of putting a story together in any sort of logical way,” said Tara Schumacher, who got sick in mid-March. “If I don’t write things down, if I don’t make a list before I go to the store, I’m not bringing back the things that I meant to.” 

Schumacher, 47, is a landscape photographer and runs an Airbnb out of her home in Fort Collins. The worst of her symptoms lasted through May. Now, she’s left with lingering brain fog. This week, nearly five months after her first symptoms, she was diagnosed with post-COVID pneumonia. 

Until there’s more research on long haulers, all doctors can do is treat the symptoms. 

“And so it’s mainly supportive therapy and we don’t even really know what the best ones are. We are going to try them and we’re going to see how people do. And we’re going to read the literature and develop and change as more information becomes available,” Goldstein said. “And, hopefully, we’ll publish our own experience, but it’s really a lot of learning on the job with these patients. There are no established guidelines or trials that can guide you.” 

In the meantime, patients are left to wait and hope they get better soon.

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