Dear Decaturish – I probably have COVID-19. Here’s what I’ve learned.
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Editor’s note: Some of portions of this letter were included in an article about this topic. To read the article, click here.
I was tested for COVID-19 on Friday, March 13th at 8:30 a.m at a local medical facility. What I found there scared me.
There was no quick, efficient drive-through. No hazmat suits, just masks and gloves. The doctor who swabbed me had a piece of protective plastic covering over her eyes, like a windshield. The swab in the throat was easy. The nose hurt.
I kept my distance from the two other patients. The first, in his mid-forties, appeared nervous but cough-free, like me. The second, in his late-twenties, had a deep, persistent cough that made his whole body shake. He looked terrified.
Since developing an upper respiratory tract infection at the beginning of the month, much of what I’ve seen has scared me. When I walked into the ER with a raging cough and low oxygen sats, no one immediately put me into isolation. There was no COVID-19 representative there to answer my questions.
The kind physician who tested me assured me that we are prepared; that our community will look nothing like Italy, where hospitals have run out of ventilators. But physicians are trained to project calm. What I have witnessed is our efforts are falling short.
I want to pass my fear on to each of you — not to induce panic, but for the good of our community. All of us need to enforce strict social distancing to the best of our ability from now on. Some evidence suggests the confirmed numbers only represent a fraction of the infected people. If that’s the case, social distancing will play a major role in bringing the numbers down and not overwhelming the medical system.
As I anxiously await the results of my test, I have regrets. When my respiratory infection first broke, there were only a handful of presumptive cases in Georgia. Since I had no fever and no travel risk, the ER doctors told me to drink fluids and send my kids to school. I pulled them several days later, when the infection appeared to be moving to my lungs. Don’t let this be you. If you are sick, isolate yourself.
The only thing we know for certain about COVID-19 is there’s a lot we still don’t know. A New York Times article recently described a young female doctor in China who succumbed to the virus. Though it targets certain populations more aggressively, everyone is vulnerable. I felt this acutely while getting tested, realizing I wasn’t the youngest person there.
I also want to pass on hope. My daughter, Kathryn, a first grader at Glennwood Elementary, has heart disease and a critical airway. Despite the best containment efforts of myself and my husband, both of our children caught it. An illness that brought us to our knees has left them with slight fevers and bad attitudes.
Everyone is grateful for those in our community working on the front lines to battle this pandemic. One of the best ways to thank them is to help control its spread and not send them too many patients at once. Please practice social distancing. Your life or someone else’s could depend on it.
– Chesney D’Avis
-The window to receive test results has come and gone, and Chesney still has not received a call from the health department.
-An infectious disease doctor at Emory thinks she is positive for COVID-19, based on the severity of her symptoms.
-She was taken to Emory Decatur Hospital by ambulance for respiratory distress on Monday, but is now home recovering. During this visit, she was reassured by ramped up measures, including a respiratory isolation wing.
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