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Are local patients catching COVID-19 more than once?

The truth about catching COVID twice
Posted at 8:16 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 21:16:54-04

Catching COVID-19 once can be tough for anyone, but imagine catching it a second time.

That’s what some patients in the Coastal Bend are experiencing.

Physician’s PremiER emergency medicine physician Dr. Lonnie Schwirtlich said he has treated a number of patients who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus more than once. However, it’s tough to tell if it’s a continuation of the original virus, or if the patients caught the virus a second time.

Mark Povelaitis, an emergency medical technician who worked in a nursing home in West Texas, told KRIS 6 News he tested positive for the virus in March and had mild symptoms.

“I developed a sore throat, a dry cough, and laryngitis-type symptoms,” he said.

After quarantining for two weeks, Povelaitis made a full recovery. Then, last month, he tested positive a second time, and his symptoms were almost non-existent.

“At the time, I felt like I had no symptoms, no fever, no nothing, just another positive test,” he said. “I was wondering if it’s going to get worse or what’s going to happen?”

Dr. Schwirtlich told KRIS 6 News most people are immune to the virus for two-to-six months after catching it the first time, but it is possible to catch it a second time after a patient has made a full recovery.

“You’re probably less susceptible to it, and you might have lesser symptoms,” Schwirtlich said. “But that may depend on your resistance at the time you catch it the next time.”

Schwirtlich said he’s treated patients who have tested positive only several weeks after their first positive tests, with no signs of symptoms.

“We think that it’s just viral particles, pieces of the virus still sitting in your nasal cavity; in the back in your throat and your nose, that has not cleared out lately,” he said.

Schwirtlich said that’s why it’s important for COVID-19 patients to monitor their symptoms and self-isolate for 14 days if they test positive.

He also said a COVID-19 immunization is being developed, however, because the virus changes over time, it’s still unclear how long the immunization will safeguard a patient -- a couple months, or up to year.

Until then, Povelaitis said when it comes to this strain of the coronavirus, the third time is certainly not a charm.

“I got unlucky,” he said. “But I’m just thankful it didn’t get any worse, because I know it’s not the same for a lot of people out there.”