Teen COVID-19 long-haulers ask for help in reducing spread of virus in Utah schools

Some high schoolers, like Davis High School student Brextyne Lopez, are headed back to school still facing complications after getting COVID-19. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News )

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Heading back to school brings with it a whole new set of concerns for some Utah teens who are dealing with long haul COVID-19 symptoms.

It's why some have asked their classmates to do all they can to protect others.

For the two teens KSL-TV spoke to, how they handle the upcoming school year is now a much bigger decision than in past years. It means figuring out how to go forward with long-lasting effects, and in some cases, depending on others to help make sure they don't get the virus again.

Many of us hoped for this upcoming school year to look different than the last, and heading into Davis High School, Brextyne Lopez is looking for a change, too.

"I'm really hoping to go in-person, because having to do online was not the best and it was a lot harder to do," said Lopez.

That's because the 15-year-old came down with COVID-19 last March, and still has lingering effects.

"I've had these like, super annoying headaches," he said. "I've had stomach issues. I've been feeling dizzy and all that type of stuff."

But for in-person school to work for him, he has to wear a face mask.

"I still have to wear a mask, which I'm fine with doing; it's just other people, which I'm more worried about," said Lopez.

Because of a heart condition he's had since childhood, Lopez's mom worries the vaccine could potentially be risky for him. It means he may have to depend on others around him to reduce the spread.

For 18-year-old Benyce Merrill, she contracted the virus while on a school trip.

"We were having a great time, then one morning, I woke up and moving hurt a lot," said Merrill.

That was in October. "Since then, I've been dealing with a lot of body pain and I'm really tired, more tired than I feel like I should be," she said.

While she hoped to attend UVU in the fall, she said she'll now take a gap year while she tries to figure out how to adjust.

She admits that as a senior, she, in part, didn't like masks. "Like, you can't read anybody's facial features and it's kind of isolating," said Merrill.

But at the same time, she said, "It's necessary and it does help."

On top of worrying about themselves, both Lopez and Merrill said they are concerned about the prospect of bringing COVID-19 home to family.

Merrill said her mom was already in the ICU with the virus and her 7-year-old brother has asthma.

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Mike Anderson


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