Jeff, 61, is seen April 2 through a window at his lake house in Embden. Jeff, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus March 22, said he continues to struggle with shortness of breath due to COVID-19.

EMBDEN — The Massachusetts man who tested positive for the coronavirus nearly a month ago while visiting his second home in Somerset County is still grappling with the disease and the question of when he will be able to re-enter society.

Jeff, who is 61 and has asked that his full name be withheld out of fear of reprisal, said in an interview he was retested recently — twice over a 48-hour period — and the results still came back positive. He continues to be a bit short of breath, which has been the primary symptom of his COVID-19 infection.

Jeff, 61, who tested positive for coronavirus, stands April 2 on the deck at his lake house in Embden.

Jeff said he plans to check in again this weekend with doctors in Massachusetts and Maine.

The persistence of the coronavirus beyond the typical 14-day quarantine window is puzzling experts across the globe as they seek to better understand the virus that worldwide had infected more than 2.1 million people and caused the deaths of almost 145,000 as of Thursday afternoon.

“I’m in limbo,” Jeff said in an interview Wednesday evening. “Where do I stand? Am I allowed to go back into society or back home? It’s a gray area, and nobody seems to know about it.”

Globally, experts are still gathering information on when COVID-19 patients are considered recovered and whether they can still transmit the disease. The World Health Organization recently said it was investigating reports that coronavirus patients who initially tested negative have tested positive for the virus days later. The WHO also said this week not all people who recover have the antibodies to fight a second coronavirus infection, meaning not everyone develops immunity after surviving the disease.


WHO guidelines say clinically recovered patients who are hospitalized should test negative for the virus twice, at least 24 hours apart.

But questions about recovered patients and the lingering presence of the virus have existed for more than a month, after Chinese patients who survived the initial outbreak tested positive a second time, even after being discharged from hospitals.

Jeff’s initial positive test came the morning of Sunday, March 22, from Redington-Fairview General Hospital in Skowhegan. He said he had begun feeling severe shortness of breath March 18.

Jeff, who announced his coronavirus diagnosis on a Boston radio show last month, was in Maine visiting his lake house with his family when he was diagnosed with COVID-19. His family then left for Massachusetts while he quarantined in Embden with his 18-year-old son, who has not contracted the virus.

Jeff, who said his only major symptom has been shortness of breath, said he has tried to maintain a positive attitude while maintaining regular intake of food and liquids, going for a daily walk and getting plenty of sleep.

Jeff, 61, walks a wooded area near his lake house in Embden. Diagnosed with the coronavirus March 22, Jeff, said he continues to struggle with shortness of breath due to COVID-19. He said he remains active, including a daily walk of up to 3 miles.

But the shortness of breath continued after the 14-day mark. Jeff was retested for coronavirus Saturday, April 4, and Monday, April 6, and the results were still positive. He has received a number of additional chest exams, including cardio and blood pressure readings and a chest X-ray. All have returned good results.

Jeff said Wednesday evening he has noticed improvement in his breathing and feels “95% better.” He is due to check in with his doctors Saturday on possible next steps and whether he should be tested again.

“I’m just waiting this thing out,” Jeff said. “It does make you wonder, medically, at what point are you healthy enough to go back out into society? How long does this thing last?”

Jeff said he considers himself fortunate to have had only a mild coronavirus symptom while being quarantined at his secluded lake house in Embden, and is “counting my blessings” as he looks forward to a full recovery — whenever that comes.

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