Community voices: COVID-19

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RBC | Rio Blanco County has been fortunate to have a limited number of COVID-19 cases (25 as of press time). We haven’t lost anyone locally to the disease, and no one affected has required hospitalization. All of that is good news, but that doesn’t invalidate the experiences of those in our communities who have contracted the virus. 

Anonymously, some of them have agreed to share their stories — and some words of wisdom from the other side of COVID-19 — with the Herald Times

We submitted the following questions through Public Health: 

1. How long since you “recovered” from the infection? 
2. What age group are you in? 
3. Do you know where you contracted the virus? What precautions were you taking? 
4. What were your initial symptoms? How long between symptoms and testing? 
5. What was the course of the illness like? How did it compare to other viral illnesses? 
6. How long were you ill/quarantined. 
7. What after-effects or symptoms are you still experiencing? 
8. Did you need medical care? 
9. In retrospect, what do you wish someone would have told you? What would you tell others?

Here are their stories:

Case 1 is an otherwise healthy individual in their 20s with no preexisting conditions. It’s been about two months since they were considered “recovered.” They believe they contracted the virus from a family member who was “already dealing with other issues” and had been staying home. 

“It was hard to stay away because I would go check in with them to make sure they were OK. Outside of our home we would wear our masks. When we were at home we would not wear them. Yes, we would make sure to wash our hands frequently and use hand sanitizer. We would limit the time that we spent out of town and with large crowds, the only times we would leave Meeker were to go grocery shopping and we always did the pick-up service.”

Case 1’s initial symptoms were a sore throat and “constantly having to clear my throat.” 

“I also felt tired and had a slight headache. Symptoms started on a Friday and Case 1 was tested the following Tuesday.

Case 1 was ill for 10 days, quarantined for 14 and “thankfully did not need medical care” for symptoms. 

“My case was very mild. I had a sore throat and a small headache here and there,” Case 1 said via email. “Towards the middle of me being sick I would feel like I couldn’t breathe and I would have to get up and walk around my backyard. I lost my taste and smell completely for about two weeks. Eating was also very difficult, seeing food would make me nauseous and it was also frustrating that I couldn’t taste or smell anything. I did not experience any fever. I don’t think this is comparable to other illnesses because the feeling that I had was nothing like a cold or the flu. It was mostly a constant uncomfortable feeling in my body that I didn’t know how to control.”

Two months later, Case 1 is still experiencing effects from the virus, including, “Constantly being tired even after getting plenty of sleep. Issues with congestion and continuous sore throat.”

Case 1’s advice for others? “Don’t base everything on a fever, I did not experience any fevers and had very mild symptoms. If you think you may be sick, stay home and get tested, don’t risk spreading it to others. This is not an illness that just goes away, I am still dealing with minor symptoms, but we still don’t know the long-lasting symptoms, which makes this all more stressful.”

Case 2 is in their 50s, which puts them at higher risk for complications, but they also have no known preexisting conditions. They have also been considered “recovered” for about two months. 

Case 2 is unsure where they contracted the virus.

“I would occasionally wear a mask to go out, but I would not wear one at work or at home. I would wash my hands, use hand sanitizer and avoid being in areas where there were a lot of people.”

Case 2’s initial symptoms were similar to Case 1 with a constant need to clear the throat coupled with fatigue for two days. For the next two days, Case 2 states, they “started to feel fine and then the body aches started on the fifth day. Ten days after Case 2’s symptoms started they were tested for COVID-19.

Case 2 suffered symptoms for three weeks and quarantined for three weeks. While they were able to recover at home without requiring medical care, they are still experiencing “being tired out of nowhere” two months after recovery. 

Case 2’s advice from the other side of COVID? “Take all the precautions that you can, wash your hands, use your mask out with the general public, keep your distance from others, etc. Being quarantined is very stressful, one second you’re thinking you are starting to improve and then the next you start to think what symptom is next. This is happening now and it is real.”

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations begin to surge in surrounding counties and communities, and out-of-state visitors come through for hunting season, diligence to wear a mask, sanitize and wash hands, and maintain social distance is as important or more important than it was in the spring, especially as colder weather drives us all indoors.

For the latest local updates on COVID-19 in Rio Blanco County, visit https://rbc.us/606/COVID-19-Updates

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