A lot has happened in the past week. COVID-19 has become more widespread throughout the world, especially in the United States. A bit closer to home, someone on my sailing aboard MSC Meraviglia tested positive for the virus – and I began to show symptoms.
Let me start off, first, by saying that I am okay. I have had a dry cough and fever, along with a few other symptoms related to the virus, but my breathing is fine. I am 24 years old. I have very little to worry about in terms of the impact of this virus on my body. What I do worry about, though, is the impact of the virus on my community.
I learned that I had possible contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, though I am not even sure who the person was as MSC did not disclose any names. The first thing I did was call the COVID-19 hotline. Looking now, I can’t find the phone number, which is a testament to my entire Friday night journey. An operator answered quickly, which was very surprising to me. Upon stating my symptoms and my previous contact with someone who was positive, I was instructed to go get a flu test. I read multiple times that if you are possibly carrying the virus you should call your doctor ahead of time to make sure you are not being held in waiting rooms, etc. So I did just that. I called two doctors, and both told me the same thing, “We can’t test you.” Helpful. Fortunately, I called an urgent care facility where I was told to go to the ER: “They don’t want to advertise that they are testing, but you should go to the emergency room.”
Getting tested at the emergency room was one of the last things that I wanted to do. Not because of costs, hassles, inconveniences, or anything else. I didn’t want to go because I knew North Carolina had a limited number of Coronavirus tests. At this point, I didn’t know where to turn. I had taken all the steps that I was supposed to take and still had no answers.
Long story short, I got tested for COVID-19 at the emergency room. The biggest kink in the process? I won’t get my results until Friday. The CDC is not processing tests over the weekend and even when they can process the tests the turn around time is five days.
So for now, my roommate and I are self-quarantining. I should note that she has also developed a cough, but she refuses to attribute it to the spread of my symptoms.
After getting tested, I contacted everyone I had seen throughout the week to let them know what was going on and to encourage them to self-quarantine as well.
As mentioned earlier, I am not worried about the impact of the virus on me, or even my roommate. I am worried about the impact of the virus on the community. I’m worried about how it will impact my grandmother, my brother who has asthma, and my father who is over 60.
The best advice I can give you is to stay home if you are able; avoid going out in large groups; don’t have people over (you don’t know where they’ve been or who they’ve been in contact with); and make sure you have enough groceries to get you through a few weeks. (Notice I didn’t say toilet paper.)
I’ve stocked up on frozen vegetables, canned fruits, dried beans, rice, eggs, bread, and snacks like popcorn that are not super heavy or caloric since I won’t be able to leave home for two weeks.
Like some of the people I’ve talked to, you may not understand the importance of social distancing or self-quarantining, so I will attach a few articles that explain why we should start these practices now:
- Flatten The Curve
- Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day
- Why Outbreaks Like Coronavirus Spread Exponentially, And How To “Flatten The Curve”
- How To Protect Older People From The Coronavirus
- Stay The F*** Home
An online medical journal cites: “By following the appropriate recommended social isolation measures, you will be saving lives of not just those at increased risk who are infected, but also those who need other critical health care services, including potentially yourself. You will be saving the lives of people you will never meet.”
And lastly, in the words of former US Secretary of Health And Human Services, Michael Leavitt:
“Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after will seem inadequate.”