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On Feb. 2, a encounter who’s come to be particularly acquainted to Minnesotans in excess of the previous two several years — or fairly, around the past 30 decades — will pack up her workplace at the condition wellbeing division and say goodbye to longtime colleagues.

Kris Ehresmann, 59, director of the infectious illness division at the Minnesota Section of Health, is retiring. She’s been at MDH considering the fact that the 1980s in numerous roles. Most recently, Ehresmann has been one particular of the architects of the state’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around the years, MPR Information has talked to Ehresmann about any number of well being-connected problems, from the annually arrival of influenza, to measles outbreaks, to issues about Ebola and HIV, to statewide vaccination premiums and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before her final working day, Ehresmann gave an exit job interview to host Cathy Wurzer.

The following extended transcript has been somewhat edited for clarity. Hear to the dialogue working with the audio participant earlier mentioned.

You’ve been on the entrance lines of the pandemic. What toll has this taken on you individually?

I assume anyone is exhausted. It’s been tricky. At any time you have anything in community health that is so on the forefront of the public’s head, there is certainly no way it can steer clear of currently being political due to the fact that’s just how factors have to be. But that unquestionably is anything we hadn’t found in the earlier with other responses. And so which is been hard.

I assume you can find a sense of gratification that we have performed the ideal we could do and presented it our all. But I think men and women are also tired. So, they are happy and fatigued.

Have you faced backlash, vitriol or threats like some others in public wellbeing?

Of course. I think when you happen to be seen, when persons have frustrations, they [say], “Who do I know in point out governing administration? I’m going to permit Kris Ehresmann know.” So I definitely have gotten a number of e-mails that weren’t really enjoyable to open up.

But by the similar token, there have been Minnesotans from throughout the state who have composed notes to me and to the workforce stating thank you. And that has been frustrating. In retirement, I’m likely to be composing a ton of notes. That built these a big difference.

How significantly did pandemic anxiety participate in into your choice to phase down?

I never want to say that the last few a long time haven’t been tough. But I misplaced my mother five and a half yrs back to pancreatic cancer. And my spouse shed his mom 4 times afterwards. And so we had been genuinely struck by the brevity of lifetime, and we started on a five-yr program to search at retiring. We downsized. That’s why I was creating a household and going in the middle of the pandemic and matters like that.

But

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Eugene Mymrin/Getty Images

Conceptual paper illustration of human hands and coronavirus in a lab.

Eugene Mymrin/Getty Images

Kelly LaDue thought she was done with COVID-19 in the fall of 2020 after being tormented by the virus for a miserable couple of weeks.

“And then I started with really bad heart-racing with any exertion. It was weird,” says LaDue, 54, of Ontario, N.Y. “Walking up the stairs, I’d have to sit down and rest. And I was short of breath. I had to rest after everything I did.”

A year later, LaDue still feels like a wreck. She gets bad headaches and wakes up with pain all over her body on more days than not. She also experiences a sudden high-pitched whistling in her ears, bizarre phantom smells and vibrations in her legs. Her brain is so foggy most of the time that she had to quit her job as a nurse and is afraid to drive.

“These symptoms, they come and go,” she says. “You think: ‘It’s gone.’ You think: ‘This is it. I’m getting better.’ And then it’ll just rear back up again.”

Kelly LaDue, of Ontario, N.Y., was working as a nurse when she got COVID-19 and recovered. But a year later, she’s still grappling with a strange constellation of symptoms.

Kelly LaDue


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Kelly LaDue


Kelly LaDue, of Ontario, N.Y., was working as a nurse when she got COVID-19 and recovered. But a year later, she’s still grappling with a strange constellation of symptoms.

Kelly LaDue

Patients like LaDue have researchers scrambling to figure out why some people experience persistent, often debilitating symptoms after catching SARS-CoV-2. It remains unclear how often it occurs. But if only a small fraction of the hundreds of millions of people who’ve had COVID-19 are left struggling with long-term health problems, it’s a major public health problem.

“I think it’s the post-pandemic pandemic,” says Dr. Angela Cheung, who’s studying long COVID-19 at the University of Toronto. “If we are conservative and think that only 10% of patients who develop COVID-19 would get long COVID, that’s a huge number.”

“Not caused by one thing”

So far there are more theories than clear answers for what’s going on, and there is good reason to think the varied constellation of symptoms could have different causes in different people. Maybe, in some, the virus is still hiding in the body somewhere, directly damaging nerves or other parts of the body. Maybe the chronic presence of the virus, or remnants of the virus, keeps the immune system kind of simmering at a low boil, causing the symptoms. Maybe the virus is gone but left the immune system out of whack, so it’s now attacking the body. Or maybe there’s another cause.

“It’s still early days. But we believe that long COVID is not caused by one thing. That there are multiple diseases that are happening,” says Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale University who is also studying long COVID-19.

But Iwasaki and others have started finding some tantalizing clues in the

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