Second Positive Wood County COVID-19 Case Shares Story
At publish time, there are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wood County, and OnFocus had an opportunity to speak with one of them, a 20-year old college sophomore from the Wisconsin Rapids area. She wished to remain anonymous, but wanted to share her experience with others. We’ll call her CP for this story.
While studying abroad in England, CP first heard rumblings of a disease spreading throughout the world.
“When we first heard of the outbreak we were not thinking it would result in us being sent
home, until it started to reach other places in Europe where we were traveling to on the weekends,” she said. “I had just gotten back from Italy on February 23, and I did not know the coronavirus had hit northern Italy near where I was in Venice.”
She and a friend were a bit worried because they had spent the weekend in Italy, but a few weeks went by and neither began exhibiting symptoms. On March 10, students were told to no longer travel. The following day, after a scheduled FaceTime call with University leadership, they were told they were being sent home.
“It was such a quick turn around. At one point, we were making plans for traveling and working on presentations due for classes, and the next day people were packing up their rooms and getting the next possible flight home,” said CP. “It all went so quickly it was a blur. Many of us were in shock, but we anticipated it would possibly happen after the outbreak started getting worse and President Trump had put his ban on traveling into the U.S.”
Return Journey & Self-Quarantine
CP flew from London Heathrow into Chicago O’Hare, an experience she describes as “a nightmare.”
“We had been going through customs in many countries since we were going in an out of different countries when traveling on the weekends. The max we had ever had to wait was maybe 30 minutes,” said CP. “At O’Hare, we stood in line for around five hours. The lines were unbelievably long and we were all packed extremely close together. Many of us were saying if we didn’t have the virus, there is no doubt we would get it after being around hundreds of people who were getting back into the U.S from Europe.”
After arriving home, CP planned to self-quarantine for at least 14 days and didn’t plan to get tested unless she began exhibiting symptoms.
“After just one day of being home, I started coughing a bit and was of course jet lagged, but did not want to assume it was the coronavirus,” she said. “On Tuesday, March 17, I woke up and felt extremely run down, I had chills, my chest hurt, I was still coughing, and I could not go up the stairs without being out of breath. I knew right then I should go in and get tested. I went upstairs to tell my mom I wanted to get tested and was extremely out of breath. This was not normal for me, as I consider myself active and healthy.”
Getting Tested for COVID-19
CP completed a drive-through test at a local multi-specialty clinic, where a nurse came out in a full body suit and tested her right out of her car.
“It was a quick, easy yet somewhat of a painful process. They first tested for influenza, but that had come back negative so they said they were sending it in for COVID-19, but that it was being sent to Utah so it would take some time,” she said. “The health department then started asking me many questions regarding where I had been, who I had been around, and when my symptoms started. They guided me and my family with what I needed to do, and also told my parents and I that they would call our household everyday to monitor us.”
According to CP, the department was primarily concerned with CP since she tested positive, but as a precautionary measure they did treat the whole family as if they were all positive.
“The woman who had been our health department contact was extremely helpful with the process,” she said. “I was told that I was to continue quarantining, and I was supposed to
quarantine 14 days after my first symptom started. My parents and I are required to take our temperature twice per day and they do record our temperatures when they call.”
After being tested on Tuesday, CP said was a rough day and she had a lot of the symptoms that they were related to COVID-19. She managed her symptoms with Tylenol, rest, and lots of fluids. She went to bed early and woke up feeling a lot better on Wednesday.
“I felt pretty normal again and I almost thought maybe I was feeling the way I was on Tuesday because of being run down from the traveling the last few months, the stress of coming home early, and getting a flight home as soon as possible,” she said. “As the week went on, I started to feel like myself again and was experiencing no symptoms.”
Seven days after being tested, CP lost her sense of taste and smell.
“My dad started to look it up and saw many articles describing other people who were tested positive, and they had symptoms that were similar to mine,” she said. “I also woke up and felt extremely weak, I didn’t have an appetite and laid in bed the whole day and felt like someone had taken every ounce of energy out of me. That night I started to think that maybe it really was positive.”
Getting The Test Results & Battling Symptoms
The next morning, March 26, CP received the call from the doctor and the health department that she had tested positive.
“I was still not able to smell or taste but I had more energy than the day before. As days had gone on I started to feel better every day,” she said. “I still am not able to smell or taste 100%, and when I work out, it does not feel the same. I get tired faster and do not have as much energy as I usually do.”
For CP, the progression of symptoms was a roller coaster.
“After I was tested, I sort of fought a battle in my head as to whether I actually had it or not. I would wake up and feel fine, and I was telling myself there is no way I could really have this,” she said. “I would then go work out, which was difficult, and I spent a lot of days with no energy but again it was not to an extent where I thought that I had COVID-19. It wasn’t until I lost my sense of taste and smell and the day before I received my results. That was when I finally felt like I might have had it. I felt like I had been hit by a semi by that time, and I started to second guess myself. After my Dad had found all of the articles about how many COVID-19 patients had lost their taste or scent and smell, I realized at that point that it was likely that I had it.”
CP’s case is considered mild, for which she is thankful.
“There was a part of me that was still surprised that I wasn’t much worse than I was, especially after seeing on the news that many people who tested positive for COVID-19 needed to be hospitalized or on ventilators,” she said. “Also, after seeing all the numbers of people dying I was surprised how mild my symptoms were. Having experienced it firsthand, I would say that it may not be as bad as some may think, considering I was not experiencing severe symptoms.”
Though her own symptoms were relatively mild, CP encourages everyone to stay home as much as possible, maintain social distancing guidelines when they must go out, and do whatever they can to prevent the spread of disease.
“I think it is definitely something to be cautious and careful about,” she said. “Many people who have underlying conditions and some who are even healthy are seriously suffering and dying from this virus, so no doubt it is scary. Once I tested positive I started to think how grateful I am that I took self-quarantining seriously, because the weight of the responsibility is heavier once you have tested positive.”
For CP, this has meant not visiting her grandparents who live just a few miles away and with whom she is very close and hasn’t seen since leaving for Europe in January.
Making The News
After making the news as Wood County’s second COVID-19 case, she was surprised at the public response.
“At first I was overwhelmed, reading the comments and assumptions that were being made,” she said. “There were comments such as I was an ‘entitled spring breaker brat,’ and I was ‘the girl who went around licking door handles’ (that one made me laugh) or that I ‘was not self-quarantining.’ I started to feel a little anxious knowing that being from a small town it would spread like wild fire, which it did. People were finding out and calling my Mom asking if the rumor was true. It was pretty crazy because I have never experienced something like that before.”
“Despite the rude comments and assumptions that were being made, I knew that I had been self-quarantining since I had been home and have been listening to everything that the health department had told me to do,” she added. “There was nothing I could do about what other people were saying about me, either, so that was frustrating.”
CP also shared a few additional things that she found interesting about her experience with COVID-19.
“My friend tested negative, yet we had spent every day together for the past few months,” she said. “Another thing that may be confusing is that the day after I found out I was positive, I was released from self-quarantine. The reason for this was that I had gotten the virus somewhere around the last weekend in February or the first weekend in March, and there is a two-week incubation period where no symptoms are shown. So, by the time I had gotten my results back, I was not contagious anymore. I found it interesting how one day I found out I was positive, yet the next day I was already out of self-quarantine since I was not contagious. The 10-day delay in getting results played a part in it.”
She explained that the health department had called an epidemiologist to explain her symptoms and talk about her experience with the virus. They told the health department that she was able to be released from quarantine.
“I had even asked for a copy to prove this because I knew that many had just heard I tested positive and the next day would be confused as to why I was at the grocery store or not self-quarantining anymore,” she said.
CP is now able to venture out of quarantine, and her parents are continuing to self-quarantine, with her dad experiencing only mild symptoms. (They are not able to be tested at this time, due to testing guidelines.)