Lingering symptoms possible even for mild COVID-19 cases

As the COVID-19 case total and death toll continue to rise each day, medical experts are still working to better understand the long-term effects of the virus.

"Certainly there is a higher risk for those who had more severe disease, but in fact we’re hearing more and more that people who have a mild illness do develop ongoing symptoms," said Minnesota Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Ruth Lynfield.

Lynfield said those "long haulers" could experience lingering symptoms over the course of weeks to months. The symptoms are wide-ranging and can include fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, joint pain, chest pain, brain fog, memory difficulties, change in mood, anxiety, muscle pain, headache, intermittent fever and heart palpitations. 

She said it's unclear how many Minnesotans fit in the long hauler category, but the medical community is working to better classify those experiencing these symptoms to gain a better understanding of the long-term impacts.

A rare complication linked to COVID-19 is Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome In Children (MIS-C). So far, Minnesota has had 43 confirmed cases. MIS-C causes different body parts to become inflamed, such as the heart, lungs or kidneys. All of the impacted Minnesota children needed to be hospitalized for treatment. While MIS-C can be deadly, there have been no deaths in Minnesota. A similar, rare syndrome (MIS-A) has appeared in young adults with two cases in Minnesota out of 70 cases nationwide.

"Until we have a safe and effective vaccine, we really need to do everything we can to stop the transmission between fellow Minnesotans," said Lynfield.