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COVID-19 survivor making the most of his second shot at life

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Nov 24, 2021

CLEVELAND — Difficulty breathing, brain fog, and fatigue — they are just some of the symptoms that can surface months after the initial COVID-19 infection.

"Joint pain, bone pain, abdominal pain. We are learning a lot in terms of the consequences of COVID," said Dr. Charles Modlin with Metro Hospital.

Many who survived their bout with the virus now suffer from what’s called COVID-19 Long Haul Syndrome.

Jae Williams spent 54 days in the hospital; 24 of them he was in a coma.

"I went in with 37. I'm the only one that lived," said Williams.

Williams said just like the coronavirus, its after-effects are disproportionately impacting communities of color.

"We are afraid to express what we are going through," he said.

With so many of his fellow Black and brown long-haulers suffering in silence, Williams said he knew he had to do something.

"This radio station is a platform to help change the lives of our community," said Williams.

This weekend, Williams, along with WOVA 95.9, will host a celebration giving those with lingering symptoms access to resources that could lead to relief.

“It's bringing light to survivors of coronavirus. They have an opportunity to talk about what's going on in their body. They're going to have a chance to come in and be around real doctors that they can touch," said Williams.

This fall, the Cleveland Foundation awarded Burten, Bell, Carr Development, which owns WOVU, a $60,000 grant to raise awareness in the African-American community.

More than a dozen public service announcements are currently on the air.

The outreach is very much needed in communities of color, according to Dr. Modlin.

"We want to teach people how to recognize these long haul COVID-19 symptoms — what they can do about it," said Modlin.

The need for knowledge has to go beyond just patients, Modlin said.

"More work needs to be done to better educate healthcare providers about COVID-19 Long Haul Syndrome," said Modlin.

Modlin said some doctors may unknowingly be dismissing symptoms connected to the syndrome, making patients even more reluctant to come forward.

"We as health care providers recognize that these symptoms are real. They're not imaginary," said Modlin.

Data shows up to one-third of people infected with COVID can experience these long-lasting symptoms — even children.

"It can predispose individuals to developing new onset diseases of the lungs, kidneys, heart — diabetes, for example," said Modlin.

That's a potential one-two punch for people like Williams, who battled a deadly virus only to face a new round of challenges.

"You want to see a miracle? Look at me. I am a miracle," said Williams.

Williams said he's making the most of his second chance at life.

"That's why I'm doing this, doing this with every fiber of my spirit," said Williams.