CINCINNATI, Ohio — It’s been three months, and Rob and Andrea Anderson said they can still feel COVID-19.

What You Need To Know

  • Breathing and heart problems are among COVID-19 symptoms lasting months

  • Doctors said COVID-19 is also causing long-term lung damage that can open the door to other infections

  • Underlying health conditions can make lingering COVID impact worse

“A cough that’s been around since mid-March," said Rob.

“I’m still trying to get my stamina back,” said Andrea.

The lingering effects stem from what the couple now calls the “Zaandam” experience. They both caught COVID-19 while they were on Holland Cruise Line’s “Zaandam," the ship where hundreds got sick on board. They were the first COVID cases in the country and at first, no place would let the ship dock because of it. They were also stuck at sea for a month and thought they’d recovered when they finally got back to their suburban Cincinnati home, but there’s another lingering problem.

“I thought that after I got the first battle on the ship, I thought OK, now things should go back pretty much to normal,” said Rob.

“Now you’ve got this irregular heart beat spiking up and down and at different rates and different times.” said Rob.

Andrea got the lesser of the effects, but is still battling fatigue and shortness of breath.

“It’s scary, and it’s frustrating,” said Andrea.

And they’re not alone.

“Breathing issues would be one of the leading ongoing symptoms. This persistent fatigue is very common as well,” said Dr. Stephen Blatt, TriHealth Infectious Diseases Medical Director.

He said those lingering effects from COVID-19 can also open the door to even more illnesses.

“Some people that have had bad lung problems with COVID could be at risk for a secondary bacterial infection on top of their COVID infection, and we’ve certainly seen those in our intensive care unit, so the underlying COVID-19 can damage the lungs and that allows the second infection to move in,” said Blatt.

And he said it also could make heart problems worse.

“If people have underlying heart disease, we do see some heart issues. They have problems with atrial fibrillation or rhythm disturbances,” said Blatt.

But for the Andersons, they said this is a first.

“This is the first time I’ve had a major problem,” said Rob.

And while they’re concerned, they still have plans for the next cruise.

“We’ve booked two more—one of them we really doubt it’s gonna happen, but it was a great deal and I always wanted to see Antarctica,” said Andrea.