'Your life can turn in a switch.' Bridgeport woman still on oxygen 18 months after COVID hospitalization

A Bridgeport woman spent a week at St. Vincent's Medical Center with COVID-19 in September of 2020. When she left, the fever was gone but breathing "was still difficult."
Kelly Martinez is 21 years old and is still using a portable oxygen tank 18 months later.
Martinez is among the 15% to 30% of people who had COVID and now have long term symptoms. Doctors call them long-haulers.
"The data on long-haulers is I think rather alarming," said Dr. Jo Anne Passalacqua, who has been treating Martinez.
The infectious disease specialist at St. Vincent's Medical Center says long haul symptoms are not just effecting people who had COVID, but also people who didn't even know they had it.
Passalacqua says she has seen people suffering with chronic headaches, new onset diabetes in people who had normal blood sugars before, even rapid heartbeats and trouble concentrating.
"You think it can't be you, but in reality it can. Your life can turn in a switch," said Martinez.
Martinez, who is a college student, doesn't know how much longer her breathing issues will last.
"Now I can move around and I have a lot more ability without my oxygen dropping -that's good news. But they don't know how long it will last or if this is long term, temporary. They're hoping it's just something temporary," she said.
Martinez says her experience is reinforcing her dream to become a nurse and help others.
She still follows up with her doctor every month.