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Hunter Reinard and Lincoln Brockmeyer 

Hunter Reinard and Lincoln Brockmeyer 

Photographer: Daniel Lozada for Bloomberg Businessweek

The Children Left Behind by Long Covid

As the world pretends the pandemic is over, at least a half-million children in the U.S. are struggling with the mysterious disease.

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Lincoln Brockmeyer folds his lanky 6-foot-4-inch frame onto the examination table as he explains to the pair of doctors that he feels tapped out, his energy totally sapped. Some days, he says, he needs a nap to make it through the afternoon. Worse than the bone-tired feeling he can’t seem to shake is the constant pain in his legs and the sensation that each one weighs a thousand pounds. He tells the doctors that he’s lost weight—at one point he was down 30 pounds, to 148. He can’t run without getting lightheaded, he says, and every time he stands up he gets deep purple spidery veins on his arms and legs. He loves playing basketball, but not when his body hurts like this.

“I’m trying to stay optimistic,” he says when the doctors inform him he’s got all the signs of long Covid. They’re telling him this in March, and if he wants to get better he needs to take it easy. That means no basketball for a while. Lincoln hates hearing this. Still, they start hatching a plan—something none of the other doctors he’s seen have been able to offer. It’s too late for what would have been his freshman season of high school, but they’re hopeful he’ll be back on the court in time for his sophomore year. “We’ve got you,” says Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious diseases expert who runs the long-haul Covid clinic at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s hospital in Cleveland.