• By The Financial District


A 14-year veteran with the Sacramento Fire Department is still recovering from long-term effects after having COVID-19, according to KCRA 3 News,

"It's been a really long journey,” said firefighter Matt Rogge, 41, describing what he experienced shortly after being diagnosed with the coronavirus in July.

“I got a fever. It was 103 for a couple of days and then it went down to 100, 101 for about four or five days after that … extreme body aches, nausea. I couldn't eat anything. I couldn't hold anything down … I ended up losing about 25 pounds in two weeks.”

Rogge went on to describe that he felt extreme fatigue as he started to recover. “Trying to get out and walk to the front yard took everything I had,” he said. Rogge had to take a month-and-a-half off from work. When he went back to full-duty in mid-August, he said his strength and conditioning just weren’t the same as his pre-COVID days.

“Everything takes a lot more effort,” said Rogge who’s battled those lingering effects of the virus ever since.

Rogge’s doctor, David Caretto, an occupational medicine physician for the Dignity Health System, referred Rogge to Mercy General's Pulmonary Rehabilitation Center where he works with a respiratory therapist — often suiting up in full firefighting gear and walking up flights of stairs to simulate his on-the-job conditions.

“Knowing that it's gonna be a long road to getting back to my full strength has been difficult,” he said. Rogge isn't the only department member to get COVID-19, nor is he the only one to experience longer-term effects of it — weeks or even months post-diagnosis.

“It's non-discriminatory it doesn't matter who, what you are, where you come from,” said Greg Powell, a battalion chief for Sacramento Fire Department. “In our term[s], the 'long-haulers.' There's a subsection of people that get COVID that do have long-term effects.” Powell said, oftentimes, “long-haulers” still have difficulty breathing or exerting themselves.

“They can walk around, but when they start moving at a more rapid pace or what we call ‘fire ground pace,’ it does affect them where they get short-of-breath, dizzy, light-headed, and it affects their job ability.” Powell said that can be a difficult reality to accept for people in this line of work.

“We do this job because we love it. We do this job because we love helping people,” he explained. That’s why Rogge is using his experience fighting the coronavirus to reach others.

“I wear all my gear to protect myself, especially going into a fire or any hazardous environment,” he said. “It takes a lot of effort to put on that gear, and just wearing a mask is something that doesn’t take much effort at all. Protecting ourselves from the unknowns about COVID is easy, but that could make a difference for our own health or the health of loved ones."

“It's a roll of the dice to see what's gonna happen to you when you get the virus," Rogge said. "The best thing we can do is wear a mask and wash our hands and follow all the guidelines to protect yourself from it so you don't have to take that chance.”