COVID-19 Long Hauler Shares Survival Story to Support COVID-19 Vaccinations in Black Communities


By: Dena Vang

Antoinette Patterson didn’t think boarding a plane on February 29, 2020, would impact her life the way that it did. She took the stage during the Voices of COVID panel discussion at the W Cobb NMA Institute Stay Well Community Health Fair and Vaccine Event in Baton Rouge to share her testimony.

“I am a COVID survivor. I am a COVID long hauler. But I am here because of God’s goodness, his grace, and his mercy. Thank you, Jesus. While I am here, I probably should not have been here. My COVID story began around March 8, 2020. I was one of the very first in the country and one of the first in Louisiana to be diagnosed with COVID-19.”

Patterson shared that while COVID did cross her mind during that time, the virus did not seem to be of concern. Upon returning to Louisiana, Patterson experienced fatigue and a fever and made the decision to visit an urgent care where she requested a COVID test. But tests were yet to be widely available in the United States. It wasn’t until 13 days later that Patterson was tested for COVID.

“I am one of those people that had a positive COVID diagnosis for over 3 weeks… While I had COVID I began to experience many different illnesses. COVID attacked my heart and it also attacked my mind. COVID is a moving virus throughout your body. Literally a person experiencing COVID in an extreme state can feel COVID move throughout their body,” she shared. “But the biggest part was my heart was malfunctioning. I now was put on a heart monitor. I had to be monitored by a telephone by my cardiologist. At any moment, I could go into heart failure. They did not know what was going on with my heart. My heart palpitated so quickly that even touching my chest was very sensitive. I passed out twice and almost died.”

The road to recovery was both a physical and a spiritual battle for Patterson, who credits much of her healing to her faith in God. 

“I don’t want anyone to take COVID lightly because I not only had COVID, but I also became a COVID long hauler. Every day from March 8, 2020, to January 30, 2021, I was sick,” said Patterson. “My prayer began to be ‘God, please don’t let me die.’ I pushed and I moved on and I did all those things that seem to be normal in the sight of man. But I knew it was the supernatural strength in God that I was still alive because many days I was very very very ill. It affected my family. It put my family in worry. At the time that I had COVID there was no vaccine.”

Patterson, who has received the vaccine, is encouraging families to also get the shot.

“Some people say COVID isn’t that serious. It’s okay, you’ll have a minor sniffle, you’ll just have a cold. That’s not true for everyone,” she said. “Do not take it lightly. While some again only had the sniffles and a headache and fatigue, some people have died that you know, and I know. We want to prevent death, that’s why we’re here today. We want you to be an advocate for life today. How can you be an advocate for life? Get vaccinated.”

Patterson’s story was one of many that were shared at the Baton Rouge Cobb NMA Institute Stay Well Community Health Fair and Vaccine Event. Medical professionals, elected officials, and community members gathered at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church for panel discussions, COVID vaccinations, and health screenings. The event also brought together several local organizations in support of vaccinations in the Black community. 185 vaccinations for adults were administered and 135 vaccinations for children were administered.

COVID vaccines are free and available for those ages 5 and older. To find a vaccine site, search, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.

To view all panel discussions, visit the Stay Well Community Health Fairs Facebook page.

About The Cobb Institute

The W. Montague Cobb/National Medical Association (NMA) Health Institute (The Cobb Institute), a 501(c)(3) in Washington, DC, functions as a national consortium of scholars that engages in innovative research and knowledge dissemination for the reduction and elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities and racism in medicine. Solving one of our society’s most pressing problems, racial inequities in health, requires the collaborative work of public agencies, private entities, academic medical centers, and — equally important — communities. Founded in 2004, The Institute is named in honor of the late William Montague Cobb M.D., Ph.D., physician, anthropologist, and a distinguished professor of medicine and anatomy. Dr. Cobb influenced countless graduates of Howard University School of Medicine, including Randall C. Morgan, Jr., M.D., M.B.A. who is an orthopedic surgeon and Founding Executive Director of The Cobb Institute.


The Vision for The Institute is to change the landscape of population health by becoming a valued resource for ethical, inclusive research and data-driven solutions and strategies pertaining to racial and ethnic health and health disparities and racism in medicine.


The Mission of The Institute is to conduct rigorous research and policy analysis, and engage in dynamic collaborative partnership for the reduction of persistent racial and ethnic disparities in health and racism in medicine.

About the National Medical Association NEXUS

The National Medical Association (NMA), also a 501(c)(3) in Washington, DC, is the collective voice of African American physicians and the leading force for parity and justice in medicine and the elimination of disparities in health. The Cobb Institute was launched by the NMA in 2004 at Howard University to expand the Association’s research and policy analysis activities. In 2008, The Cobb Institute became a separate nonprofit entity from the NMA, even while remaining a close partners and collaborator. The NMA is the nation’s oldest and largest organization representing African American physicians and health professionals in the United States. Established in 1895, the NMA represents the interests of more than 50,000 African American physicians and the patients they serve.

For more information about the NMA, click here.

Dena Vang is the Public Relations Manager at Creative Marketing Resources, a strategic marketing agency in Milwaukee and a partner of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Cobb Institute.