GODSMACK's SULLY ERNA Admits COVID-19 Kicked His Ass, Says He Still Hasn't Fully Regained His Sense Of Smell And Taste

October 1, 2022

In a brand new interview with Pablo of the Minneapolis, Minnesota radio station 93X, GODSMACK frontman Sully Erna opened up about his battle with COVID-19 at the end of last year. Asked if he is experiencing any lingering symptoms from long COVID, Erna said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "No, not really. I recovered pretty good from it. But it certainly kicked my ass before I got better. And I was one of the unlucky ones that had to be hospitalized for it for four days. But it wasn't so much the COVID. I want people to be sure they understand it's really not COVID that's taking anyone out; it's the damage it does afterwards, because within six or seven days I was [testing] negative [for the virus]. But I kept getting sicker and I didn't understand why. My fever wouldn't go away; the cough thing was become like crazy; body aches — all these things that I was thinking, 'Why am I still sick, man? I don't even have COVID in my body anymore.' But what happens is these early strains — the delta strain and those parts of early COVID — are known to coagulate the blood, which is when your blood gets thicker."

He continued: "We're taught our whole lives that when you don't feel well — you have the flu or a real bad cold — what does your mother tell you? 'Oh. Just lay down and rest. Fluids and rest, rest, rest.' And this stuff, they go, 'No. Even if you feel like shit and you don't wanna get up 'cause your head's pounding, you have to move around. And for me not knowing that at the time, I lay there just thinking resting, Tylenol and fluids… I'm a strong guy — I have big lungs, I box, I run, I'm on stage two hours a night. COVID shouldn't kick my ass. But what happened was I was down too long. All my medical team was on Christmas vacation, and I sat there for three weeks before I could be seen by a doctor. And so I got blood clotting in my legs that came up to my heart… What happens is when you have clotting, it sends the clot to your heart. They're not big enough to clog your heart but when it pumps it into your lungs, it breaks it apart and it spackles your lungs, so all those little blood vessels, they start to clog these little airways in your lungs and that's when you get pneumonia. And that's what really took me out, was the pneumonia. But I beat it, and I feel good now. All my taste, my smell, that came back — hmmmm — I wouldn't say a hundred percent, but probably 85, 90 percent. It's still a little bit different when I smell or taste now — a hint of bitterness versus what it used to be. But [it's] pretty close. And I just got COVID for the second time a couple of weeks ago. But now they have these antiviral meds and I jumped right on it and I knocked it out within three days. So I'm hoping I'm done with COVID now for good, 'cause I think I got all the strains that they offer it in. [Laughs]"

CNN recently reported that some 5% of global COVID-19 survivors have developed long-lasting taste and smell problems. More than two years into the pandemic, researchers found an estimated 15 million people may still have problems perceiving odors, while 12 million may struggle with taste.

According to the British Heart Foundation, a cardiovascular research charity in the United Kingdom, the vaccine not only reduces the risk of catching COVID-19, but there is also evidence that for those who do catch it, being vaccinated makes it less likely they will develop long COVID. But it doesn’t remove the risk of long COVID entirely, and some research carried out in the United States suggests that among those who catch COVID, the risk may still be significant.

Erna originally discussed his COVID-19 battle prior to GODSMACK's headlining performance at WJRR's Earthday Birthday 28 in April. Speaking to Pat Lynch and Taco Bob from 101.1 WJRR, he said: "I got very sick. I was sick for five and a half weeks, but I was in the hospital for four days."

When asked if he thought he was going to get COVID-19, Erna, who didn't mention anything about being vaccinated against the coronavirus, said: "I didn't. I take really good care of myself. I'm a runner. I've boxed for over 20 years. And I'm onstage two hours a night. I have pretty big lungs, so even thinking if I was gonna get it, I figured I'd get sick like the normal flu get sick and then you push through it, but I definitely didn't expect for it to knock me down the way it did. I just got some bad luck and bad timing. Part of it was I got hit during the Christmas holidays, so all my doctors were on vacation; there was only substitutes. They were kind of guiding me over the phone. And what happened was the COVID left my body within seven to 10 days, but then pneumonia developed, and that's what got me [really sick]. I ended up getting blood clots in my lungs and stuff like that. That's when everything went down. It was pretty gnarly for a while because my oxygen had dipped to 76. And if anyone knows anything about oxygen levels, you're not supposed to go below 95. If you go below, you go to the hospital and 70 is, like, [when they put you on a] ventilator. So I was pretty emotional, pretty nervous about wondering if I was coming out of this. But thankfully I was in the shape that I was in, and my doctor thinks, like, that proved to him… He goes, 'I know exactly how good of a shape you're in now, because,' he goes, 'I've gotta tell you, man, when you came in, I was really nervous for you. And most people that come in in that condition, they don't leave with a happy ending.'"

After Lynch noted that COVID-19 affects people differently, Erna concurred. "It's pretty random," he said. "I think it has something to do with the blood type and DNA; they're testing for that kind of stuff now. But regardless, I got to the other side of it. I'm doing better than I ever have. It was a very humbling experience and a crazy journey. It puts things in perspective for you. So, that being said, I'm here to just do what we do, man. There was a reason for all of this, and it's made me appreciate life more and my career more and music more and things like that. But I'm also not overjamming my schedule like I used to. I'm taking time for my family, my daughter, the people that I love the most. And I'll play music when I wanna play music now, not because I have to."

Erna's personal battle with COVID-19 came less than a year after he said that the coronavirus was not as deadly as health officials have made it out to be. "I'm sorry, man, and there may be some people that may get mad at me about saying this, but COVID is not a global killer," he said during a March 2021 appearance on "The Mistress Carrie Podcast". "It's doing damage, and it's certainly affecting the elderly, and we pray for them, and we are really sympathetic towards that, and that's why we're all wearing masks, that's why we're all doing our job. Because there's a lot of us that aren't afraid of COVID, and we know that we're probably gonna blow right through it. But we don't wanna roll the dice with our loved ones, so we're being responsible. But at the same time, the reality is this isn't a global killer. It's gonna pass, we're gonna get past it, and we need to get back to normal. So we have to influence the strong to get out there and start working and start going to school and doing what they need to do so we can create population immunity. That's what's gonna get us through this. And then we'll be able to get back to normal."

At the time, Erna also repeated a narrative pushed by conservative media and disputed by health experts that suggested the official death count from the coronavirus in the U.S. was inflated.

"There's been a lot of things proven within the media, the news, to who's on what side of what, and whether some of this was a political agenda to begin within, whether the numbers are accurate enough to be able to base it on, those half a million people dead," Erna told "The Mistress Carrie Podcast". "Because there was a lot of people coming forward, a lot of doctors and everything, saying, 'Why the fuck are we being asked to put COVID on everything? Why did someone just die of pneumonia, and we have to write 'COVID'? Why did someone come in and have a heart attack, and we're being told to write 'COVID'?' So whether that half-a-million number is correct, that's the part that I feel like we need to be responsible enough to try and be optimistic about not steering people down one rabbit hole, because that's what CNN does on one side and Fox does on the other side. So CNN delivers one side of this, and Fox takes you down a different rabbit hole."

He continued: "The thing with COVID is I myself know at least — at least — a dozen, two dozen people, maybe, that have gotten COVID. And I have a friend of mine that, three months later, he's, like, 'I'm still having some issues. And it's weird — I'm getting dizzy spells. I'm getting this, that and the other thing. And what the fuck?' And then I know another group of people that were, like, 'Dude, I've had a hangover that was worse than this. I had a fever of 99 for about a day and a half and haven't had a problem since.' And so it affects everybody differently, and that's the big mystery."

Last November, Erna took a swipe at celebrities, including fellow musicians, who have used their high-profile voices to encourage medical behaviors, saying they should "shut up and let people live their lives."

Erna, who confirmed that politics played a part in his decision to relocate GODSMACK's headquarters to Florida — which leans Republican in presidential elections — on a part-time basis while maintaining a home in New Hampshire, has been more vocal about his political opinions in recent years, saying in a July 2020 episode of his Internet show "Hometown Sessions" that if "Trump stays in [office], COVID's gonna be a big, messy pain in the ass, and there's gonna be more people burning down Wendy's fucking restaurants. If Trump fucking is gone, all of a sudden they're gonna have this miracle vaccine that those fucking liars have been holding on to."

In late 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Erna hit the road in the U.S. with STAIND's Aaron Lewis as part of the unplugged "The American Drive-In Tour".

Lewis, who has been friends with Erna for more than 25 years, has been a vocal opponent of COVID-19 vaccines, claiming last November that he beat COVID-19 by taking ivermectin, a drug with no evidence of being a safe or effective treatment for the novel coronavirus. He said he also used Z-Pak, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections by inhibiting the growth of bacteria in the body.

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