“Please don’t go to family gatherings, to church, bars or other social events. It isn’t safe; no one has immunity to this virus. You don’t want to give this to a family member with underlying health conditions” Danielle Larsen shares her first-hand experience with COVID-19

August 4, 2020

Thank you to ANTHC staff member Danielle Larsen for sharing her first-hand experience with COVID-19. The story below is shared with her permission to help raise awareness about how easily this virus can be spread and precautions she recommends our community members take.

Let me first tell you, I always wore a mask when I left my house and religiously used hand sanitizer. I work in health care and knew all the precautions to take after months of creating materials to help keep others safe. However, this wasn’t enough. In order to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19, it is really important for your immediate family members also practice social distancing, masking and proper hand hygiene.

I decided to get a COVID-19 test because a family member wasn’t feeling well and they are a person who hardly ever gets sick. I knew something was up. I started having symptoms the next day. My test came back positive a couple days later. Four of my family members contracted COVID-19. Luckily our mom, who is diabetic, didn’t get sick.

At first, my symptoms were fairly mild — a low grade fever, sweating and tingling in my arms, legs and feet. I thought I was beating the virus. I wasn’t. This was just the start. A week into the virus, I started to cough and had tightness in my chest. I was really sick! I had a fever of 104 for several days in a row and I was even taking fever-reducing medication. I was really tired and weak. I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. Every deep breath was followed by a coughing attack.

At the two-week mark, I was getting worse while everyone else seemed to be getting better. I was taking everything I could to get better. I was taking more vitamins to boost my immune system. But this virus isn’t like other colds or viruses I have had before. Nothing tasted good. Everything had an awful metallic taste. I was exhausted. I didn’t know if my body was going to be strong enough to fight this virus because last winter, I had a really bad sinus infection that turned into pneumonia and lasted three months. At the three-week mark, I still had a cough but my fever finally broke. My body was finally feeling a little better. I took a COVID-19 test and it was still positive.

Another week later, my cough finally was gone and I took another COVID-19 test. My result was negative – a full month after my first positive test and onset of my symptoms. I lost an entire month being really sick and missing the best part of our Alaskan summer. I still randomly get really tired.

A scary part for me, is that it is not really known for sure how contagious COVID-19 is when a person doesn’t yet have symptoms. I had the virus without any symptoms for couple of days and I don’t know if I was contagious or how contagious I was. Could I have unknowingly spread this to someone else? We also don’t know if we can catch the virus again or any long-term health risks. If you have caught the virus and recovered continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Fortunately, during this pandemic, I’ve had the privilege of being able to work from home. When I first tested positive, I told everyone in my family and my co-workers. Especially people who visit me often. I didn’t want to get anyone sick. I wanted to ensure I did not spread this virus to anyone else. Please don’t go to family gatherings, to church, bars or other social events. It isn’t safe; no one has an immunity to this virus. You don’t want to give this to a family member with underlying health conditions. I know it is hard not seeing family or friends like we did before the pandemic, but we must keep our distance in order to keep them safe. Stay home. If you do visit friends or family, wear a mask and practice social distancing (6-feet apart or more) — even the ones you feel safe being around. We are in this together!

THANK YOU to all my friends and family for reaching out to me while I was sick. And a special thank you to my sister Jackie for going shopping for me. Thank you to my friends who dropped off goodies. I’m so thankful to all of you.

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