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Sen. Deidre Henderson is back on oxygen two months after testing positive for COVID-19

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, speaks after being announced as Spencer Cox's running mate in the campaign for governor, in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 19, 2020.

More than two months after first announcing she had COVID-19, state Sen. Deidre Henderson is still on oxygen as she struggles to fully recover.

On Aug. 7, Henderson, the Republican lieutenant governor candidate, tweeted that two members of her household had tested positive and that she was starting to show symptoms. The next day, she said she had tested positive.

Henderson was put back on oxygen two weeks ago after her doctor noticed she was having difficulty.

“It’s been brutal,” she said in a text message. “I’m still desaturating with exertion, although I’m getting better.”

In a photo Henderson posted on Twitter last week during a visit to Southern Utah University, she can be seen with an oxygen tube coming out from under her mask.

Henderson says despite having to supplement with oxygen, she is still on the campaign trail as the running mate to Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. In fact, she was campaigning in Tooele on Wednesday.

She says the ongoing health issue shouldn’t stop her from being able to do the job if elected.

“It’s not hampering me at all and not stopping me from doing the things I need to do,” she said. “I’m seeing progress, although it’s slower than I would like."

Henderson may well be one of a growing number of people medical experts refer to as “long haulers,” someone who still hasn’t fully recovered from COVID-19 weeks, or sometimes even months after they first show symptoms.

Rep. Ben McAdams, who was hospitalized in March after becoming one of the first members of Congress to contract the coronavirus, says he still is feeling some lingering effects, but nothing like what Henderson is describing.

“I still feel a tightness in my lungs, but I’m able to hike and exercise with no problem,” McAdams said.

He said he’s donating plasma to help others fighting the virus, but his antibody levels are starting to drop off.

“They’ve seen my antibody levels drop by half since May. I still have strong antibodies, but they’re dropping off fast.”

Henderson said she doesn’t have a timeline for when she will be able to stop the supplemental oxygen.

“When I ask my doctor that question, he says ‘When you stop desaturating.’ ” she said. Henderson said the other members of her household who tested positive for the virus are no longer showing any symptoms.

Cox and Henderson are the front-runners in the governor’s race, in which they face Democrats Chris Peterson and Karina Brown.

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