DENVER (CBS4) – Towards the end of 2020, some of the first Americans to be infected with COVID-19 are still suffering from coronavirus side effects. Those who experience many of the most common symptoms, as well as brain fog, are currently being studied as “COVID-19 long-haul drivers” who continue to have problems with the virus even after they recover.

(Credit: CBS)

Emily Ringering, who contracted COVID-19 in March, said many of her symptoms still persist nine months later.

“I feel like I’m 20 years old,” Ringering told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas. “I had a few months there that made me feel good.” Then things came back. Things came back at the end of August where I had memory problems, severe fatigue, and joint pain.

Ringering recently entered urgent treatment for breathlessness, coughing, chest pain, and more. Although she has consistently tested negative for the virus since she was first diagnosed, the effects persist.

Researchers at UCDavis Health published research showing that more than 10% of those who contract COVID-19 could potentially become a long-distance driver. One of the most common problems experienced by long distance drivers is said to be brain fog, which is where the patient has memory and general cognitive problems.

(Image credit: Emily Ringering)

Ringering said she recently took a test for her cognitive abilities that she failed. She said her father, who is over 70 years old, regularly passes the test with ease.

“I can’t remember what I ran in a room for. Or I’m in the middle of a sentence and just lose the words, ”said Ringering.

UCDavis Health said there is currently no known cause for the symptoms of long distance riders. Some believe it could be due to a small amount of active virus still in a system, while others said it could be causing the immune system to overreact. There is also no known schedule of how long the problems may last for the long-distance drivers. Studies are ongoing.

Ringering hoped that sharing her story on CBS4 would encourage others with similar problems to seek help. She also hoped it would encourage those who didn’t contract the virus to take it seriously.

“There are still people who say, ‘I hang out with everyone. ‘And I say, “You don’t want that,” said Ringering.

(Image credit: Emily Ringering)

“It’s not the walk in the park that some might think?” Asked Thomas.

“Yes, not at all. Not at all, ”said Ringering.