Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in January 2020, millions of people around the world have suffered from the virus. While some have had relatively mild cases, others have had to deal with much more severe illness.
Those with mild cases appear to recover within a week or two, however severe cases can take six weeks or more before the infected individual is able to resume some semblance of normal life .
One woman from Ontario, Canada, has had the virus since the end of March, and still has not recovered.
Symptoms are Gone, but the Virus Isn’t
Tracy Schofield of Cambridge, Ontario, tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after experiencing a fever, chills, headache, and difficulty breathing on March 30. She self-isolated for two weeks home, spiking a high fever of 101.1 degrees celsius, with only her seventeen-year-old son to help her. She even lost her sense of smell and taste.
“I couldn’t smell Vick’s Vapo-Rub, I couldn’t taste salt and vinegar chips,” she remembers .
It’s now been fifty days since her initial positive test, and in that time she has received eight positive results– meaning she still has the virus. Schofield, who had no prior health conditions, is beginning to worry that the virus could have life-long implications, and is looking for answers.
“I just want someone to be able to tell me something,” she says. “Give me an answer. Am I going to have it forever?” 
To make matters even more frustrating, her eighth test finally came back negative, only to be followed up 24 hours later with another positive test.
How Could This Happen?
In order to be officially declared free of the coronavirus, you must receive two negative results within a 24-hour period, which is why Schofield has still not been declared as recovered. According to Brian Dixon, an immunology professor at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, false negatives are not uncommon when testing for the prevalence of a virus, because you’re only giving a small sample of your body.
“So it may have been that they just missed it on [Schofield’s] case,” he explained. “That’s why they do it twice. They want to be sure that they caught the right sample and you are negative.” 
He added that it is difficult to actually determine what a normal recovery time is, because everyone’s immune systems are different, which means every individual will react differently to the virus .
Despite the fact that her most severe symptoms have, for the most part, disappeared, Schofield is still struggling daily with lingering effects from the virus.
“I still to this day have shortness of breath,” she says. “COVID-19 has taken a lot out of me, and it continues every day.” 
She was, however, allowed to leave self-isolation after a fourteen-day quarantine on April 14, when health officials deemed that she was likely no longer contagious. She is very careful however, and always wears her mask and maintains a proper social distance just in case.
She has also been cleared to go back to work, but since she works as a registered nurse in a long term care facility, she has decided against it.
Her biggest struggle has arguably the emotional aspects, and not being able to get definitive answers to her questions. She has heard stories of others who had similar symptoms to her but who did not make it, and she doesn’t understand why she did.
“It’s tough. And until you live it you don’t know what it’s like,” she said .
Currently, her doctor is working with a specialist in Toronto to try and figure out why she’s tested positive so many times. Until then, she continues to wait, but has been grateful for the amount of support she has received from others who are experiencing the same thing.
“It’s comforting to know that they’re out there and they’ve contacted me,” she says. “I’m hoping just telling my story is helping them too, because they know they’re not alone either.” 
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