Iowa Lawmaker Who Had COVID Feels Like She’s Had ‘the Flu for Two Months’: ‘I Just Get Totally Wiped Out’

An Iowa lawmaker is sharing the harsh COVID-19 symptoms that still affect her — which include difficulty breathing, headaches and a feeling of lightheadedness — two months after her diagnosis.

In an interview with The Des Moines Register, state Rep. Amy Nielsen compares her lingering symptoms to having "the flu for two months."

"I'm able to get up and do small things, quick errands and things like that before I just get totally wiped out," Nielsen, 44, told the paper.

Currently at home with her family, Nielsen told the Register she was still deciding when she might return to work, saying she's "blown past three goal dates already."

Nielsen is among the so-called "long-haulers," those with symptoms that persist long after the two weeks.

More than a year into the pandemic, researchers are still learning about the effects of the virus on the body, with a recent study indicated that even those with initially mild or asymptomatic cases can become "long-haulers."

In a study examining the medical records of 1,407 people in California who had tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced mild or no symptoms, researchers found that 382 people — or 27 percent of those studied — were struggling with COVID-19 symptoms, like shortness of breath, nausea, coughing and joint pain, more than 60 days after testing positive.

Nielsen, the former mayor of North Liberty, Iowa, told the Register her symptoms come in waves, with a few days of minor or no symptoms, followed by a day where she is "almost completely incapacitated, just barely out of bed. Tired and weak."

Six positive coronavirus cases have been reported at Iowa's state capitol this year

Nielsen, a Democrat, criticized the state legislature's COVID-19 protocols, which recommend that those who enter the Capitol wear masks but does not require them.

Speaking to the Register, the lawmaker said that the lack of stringent protocols means that she "wouldn't feel any safer walking back into there. Because as long as you have people that refuse to wear a mask, refuse to social distance and aren't getting the vaccine, there's still the risk of contracting."

Iowa is among the states to have dropped mask mandates in recent weeks, despite an uptick in cases of the virus and an increase in new, faster spreading virus variants.

On March 29, President Joe Biden urged states to keep or reinstate their mask mandates due to the increase in cases.

"Please, this is not politics — reinstate the mandate," he said. "The failure to take this virus seriously is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place."

In addition to becoming a key part of controlling the spread of coronavirus, mask usage also appears to be the reason why cases of the flu, cold and other respiratory diseases are down significantly in the last year.

Recent studies and data have shown that respiratory illnesses in children have sharply declined over the last year, while data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention show a striking difference between the past two influenza seasons.

Typically, approximately 100 to 200 children die of the flu each year. So far this season, there has been just one child flu death in the U.S.

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