COVID-19 damages lungs of asymptomatic and most severe patients alike, medical examiner says

LARGO, Fla. - The medical examiner for Pinellas and Pasco County has a warning for people not taking this pandemic seriously.

“This isn’t the flu this isn’t anything we know,” Dr. Jon Thogmartin told Pinellas commissioners earlier this week.

Dr. Thogmartin’s office has done a post-mortem examination of people infected with COVID-19.

“My gosh, I really don’t know how to say it without being gruesome, it just destroys the lungs,” he said. “Let me just say that.” The bodies he examined were from the most intense cases of COVID-19, in which the virus obviously claimed their lives.

“When the person dies, you can find lungs that don’t look and feel like lungs anymore,” Thogmartin said.

Scientists are now learning that even people to don’t know they have the virus may have lung damage. Scientists at Scripps Research Institute found that asymptomatic people may account for 40 – 45 percent of cases, and that is why they say more testing is needed in people without symptoms.

They looked at a study of asymptomatic COVID-19 patients from a cruise ship. CAT scans showed they had lung damage even without experiencing symptoms.

As for cases in people who did not survive, Thogmartin said, “I’ve done a lot of autopsy’s...the amount in changes of the blood even post-mortem, is quite unprecedented.”