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Recovered COVID-19 patients have been reinfected, doctors say

"Just because you have COVID and you do have some antibodies that protect you from COVID, we really don’t know how long that immunity lasts."

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Just because you survived COVID-19 in the past does not mean you can't test positive again, according to doctors. 

Healthcare workers at UofL Health are warning that the virus can strike twice especially if you don't protect yourself. 

"Just because you have COVID and you do have some antibodies that protect you from COVID, we really don’t know how long that immunity lasts," Dr. Val Briones-Pryor with UofL Health said. 

She's been working on the frontlines since Kentucky found its first case. 

"I just found out I lost my 48th patient," Briones-Pryor said on Monday. "So 48 patients in almost 12 months to me that's just I still can't believe that."

After getting COVID-19 your body develops antibodies, but Briones-Pryor says that doesn't mean the antibodies will last. 

"If you're just going around not wearing a mask, not social distancing, not washing your hands you put yourself at risk of being reinfected and unfortunately we've had cases around the country of reinfections," she said. 

Though doctors are still learning about it, Briones-Pryor believes immunity can last about 90 days after testing positive. She had one patient who got the virus in the winter after surviving the summer. 

"We had to reconsider him a reinfection and he was my first and so far my only one," Briones-Pryor said. 

Norton Healthcare says they had two cases they suspect are reinfections. 

"The newer strain that we're hearing about appear to be more contagious or more infectious," Briones-Pryor said. 

Vaccine trials have shown the shot helps decrease your chance of being hospitalized or dying from the virus.

"Vaccines are not a cure unfortunately it's not going to stop you from getting COVID-19," Briones-Pryor said. "What it does is it minimizes the symptoms."

For the best protection doctors advise people to continue to mask up, wash hands, and social distance.

"The unfortunate truth is that COVID isn't going away," Briones-Pryor said. "How we handle it as a community and as a hospital, and as healthcare professionals – that will change."

Contact reporter Senait Gebregiorgis at SGebregior@whas11.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.  

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