NYC launches support program for COVID long-haulers

Lyss Stern is a COVID-19 long-hauler, which means she still has symptoms long after she was infected.

"I still have tinnitus, insomnia — very hard time sleeping, bad headaches, complete fatigue," she told FOX 5 NY. "I have not been able to exercise in over a year."

Stern learned she had COVID on March 23, 2020. Now more than a year later, the disease's symptoms are still sidelining this once active author, entrepreneur, and mother of three children.

"I used to be able to walk everywhere," Stern said. "Now during the day, I actually have to take naps."

She said she is thrilled that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is starting a program for COVID long-haulers.

"We've got to make sure that folks who are still experiencing negative symptoms, having really tough aftereffects of COVID, that we're there for them," de Blasio said.

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The program is called AfterCare, administered by the NYC Test and Trace Corps Take Care Program.

"So, AfterCare connects Test and Trace [Corps] clients who have ongoing health and social needs to a full range of resources and referrals related to long COVID," said Dr. Amanda Johnson, the director of Take Care.

De Blasio and his team want to make sure under-served communities get the healthcare resources they need to deal with long-term COVID symptoms. The pandemic disproportionately impacted lower-income New Yorkers and communities of color. COVID-19 Centers of Excellence offering holistic care will open in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Stern used to be an event planner. She pivoted during the pandemic. Now she and another mom started a new business called ChamamaNYC creating care packages for long-haulers. She looks forward to a day when her new business is no longer necessary.