Virginia Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam initially did not even realize he had contracted COVID-19, but over a year later the pediatric neurologist from the U.S. Army Medical Corps is still experiencing symptoms that have debilitated his senses.
Northam revealed to the The Virginian Pilot he has been a COVID-19 long hauler, someone who has suffered extended loss of taste and smell after having been infected.
Northam was first infected in September 2020 he said, before vaccines were available and he is now warning Americans as he is three months from leaving office.
"I'm 62, and I can deal with this," Northam told the newspaper. "But why take a chance, if you're 15 or 20 years old or whatever age, of having symptoms that may affect you for the rest of your life? Or, in the worst-case scenario, you get COVID pneumonia and don't recover and end up losing your life."
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of 6,000 COVID-19 survivors found 66% of them are still reporting symptoms from the virus more than a month later.
Northam has a unique perspective as neurologist, a governor, and a survivor.
"It's actually the supporting cells, which is kind of encouraging, because most people think that, in time, they will actually regenerate and heal themselves, versus neurons that are a lot slower, and oftentimes don't recover," he added to the paper.
Northam notes even his once minty toothpaste now tastes like metal.
"It's a God-awful taste is the way we describe things on the shore," he said. "I'll put it in more diplomatic terms: It's a very unpleasant taste."
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