Jeff, 61, is seen April 2 through a window at his lake house in Embden. Diagnosed with the coronavirus March 22 while in Maine, Jeff has returned to his home in Massachusetts but continues to struggle with shortness of breath and other health issues.

The Massachusetts man who tested positive for the coronavirus in mid-March while visiting his vacation home in Somerset County has left quarantine in Maine and is back in his home state.

He is struggling, however, with lingering health problems. His case  continues to suggest the COVID-19 infection caused by the coronavirus could have longer-term consequences that are only just starting to be understood as infections in the United States have surpassed 1.2 million and deaths more than 74,000.

Jeff, who is 61 and has asked his full name be withheld out of fear of reprisal, said he feels his health has now reached a “plateau.” It means a black-and-white recovery from coronavirus continues to elude Jeff some 50 days after he began feeling symptoms.

“I really feel like it’s been three steps forward, and then a step or two back. It just ebbs and flows,” Jeff said in an interview this week. “Now I feel like I’m on a plateau — not any better and not any worse.”

Jeff said he was cleared to leave his lake house in Embden late last month. He was not retested following a second round of tests in early April that confirmed he was still positive for the virus. He first tested positive for the coronavirus March 22, a few days after first feeling the sudden onset of shortness of breath.

The shortness of breath has continued since Jeff returned to Massachusetts, and now a new health problem has cropped up: His heart is skipping a beat.


Jeff, 61, leaves his lake house in Embden on April 2 to start a walk. Jeff, who was diagnosed with the coronavirus March 22, has returned to his home in Massachusetts but continues to struggle with shortness of breath and other health issues.

Jeff said his doctors “are not sure what that means (or) if it’s related to corona or not.”

New research suggests they could be connected. While lung injuries and respiratory problems are the better-known symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, studies are also showing heart damage as a significant complication, according to an April 13 report from Harvard Medical School.

The Harvard report cites a study from the early days of the epidemic that surveyed cardiac injury among 41 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus in Wuhan, China. About 12% had signs of cardiovascular damage.

There are also groups of people who were previously healthy and with no underlying cardiac problems, the Harvard report shows, but they “develop fulminant inflammation of the heart muscle as a result of the virus directly infecting the heart,” which “could lead to heart rhythm disturbances and cardiac muscle damage as well as interfere with the heart’s ability to pump blood optimally.”

That sounds a lot like Jeff, who was healthy before contracting the disease and had no prior heart issues.

Jeff, who first announced his coronavirus diagnosis on a Boston radio show in March, 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 was retested in early April — twice over a 48-hour period — and the results again came back positive. He said he continues to be a bit short of breath, which has been the primary symptom of his COVID-19 infection.

Jeff arrived back home in Massachusetts the night of Sunday, April 26.

After consulting with doctors, Jeff is due to try doses of heart medication to address the skip in his heartbeat and possible effects on his thyroid.

He said he continues to exercise daily, whether walking or using a stationary bicycle, to fight off the feeling of lethargy that has accompanied his ordeal.

Jeff said the experience has taught him two lessons: He has a greater appreciation for family and friends, and “life is short, so don’t put up with any BS.”

“I don’ have time,” he said, “to waste on silly things.”

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story