URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The CDC may have lifted the COVID-19 pandemic, but one Central Illinois woman says it’s not over.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced that the CDC said all counties in the state are at a low community level for COVID-19 this week. This comes after four counties were listed at medium community Level last week. No counties were at high Level for the seventh straight week. However, Urbana native Fee Smith is still dealing with the lasting effects of the disease.

“My voice has been impacted. So, I had to medically resign from teaching,” Smith said. “Sometimes I sound like Marge Simpson and then sometimes I sound like myself. It goes in and goes out. It cracks, it’s dry. Sometimes it’s very painful and when I first came home, I couldn’t talk for six months.”

Smith caught the virus in 2021 and spent 15 days in intensive care. She said it was something she’ll never forget.

“You don’t get hugs on facetime,” Smith said. “At this moment you’re lying there, and you don’t know what’s next. So, not being able to touch your kids, being able to hug them, to see your parents, to see your friends and co-workers for 15 days, sunup to sundown, that’s very traumatic.”

Smith said she also lost the ability to drive and has to travel to Carle for speech pathology, which can cost upwards of $700.

“It put some pretty challenging things in front of me,” Smith said. “One was my employment. Two would be resources that were made available to pay rent and another one would be the relationships you thought you may have had with friends and family.”

In addition to low levels of COVID, health officials announced the public health emergency will end on May 11. Smith feels those in charge should hear from those impacted most by the disease before saying it’s done.

“You don’t hear a lot of survivors speaking about COVID,” Smith said. “You also don’t get to go to the hospital and interview. You can’t talk to front liners because they’re saving lives. It’s hard, I don’t think it’s over. I think that in some counties it could be a lower thing. But, from my experience and being a minority, it’s not.”