First friend with COVID-19: mild symptoms for 5 weeks

I’ve heard of a few friends of friends with COVID-19. One of my students at Harvard Medical School believes that he had it, but was unable to get tested. Last night I learned, for the first time, of a friend who almost surely has COVID-19. His wife is the only one who has actually been tested (via lung scan; the RNA test won’t be back until Wednesday). They’re in Michigan and, like Massachusetts, tests are mostly for those who are hospitalized. She is 50 and has suffered from a variety of health conditions, unfortunately, for the past 15 years, that include diabetes and a heart infection. She gets sicker than the rest of the family when there is a cold or flu going around and has had pneumonia a couple of times in recent years. She hasn’t needed oxygen or a ventilator yet.

He thinks that he got the disease on February 19th in New York City. Since then he’s had a cough, occasional chills at night, intermittent fever (never over 100). He’s 56.

Due to living together in a small house, their teenage children must have gotten coronavirus as well. A son was asymptomatic. The daughter experienced it as a cold.

He’s a university professor and has been able to work through all of this, never taking a day off.

So… if you cough and your friends shout out “Coronavirus!” as a joke… they might be right.

10 thoughts on “First friend with COVID-19: mild symptoms for 5 weeks

  1. It’s nice to hear of a mild Coronavirus experience. Most news and government outlets seem to equate being infected with getting the black plague.

    I hope your friend ( and especially his wife) continue to be on the mend.

  2. This is nuthun 2 laugh abt. Knw sumbdy frm brooklyn was at a party last sat. Passed ths past sat. Serious stuff

  3. If he thinks he has it why is he still going out to school. Think about how many students and others he has infected. This whole family should be in home quarantine……..

    • bill: He is not in biology and doesn’t have his own PCR machine! By the time he had any inkling that it was COVID-19 (from the wife’s diagnostic lung scan yesterday), the university had been shut down for weeks. He’s been working from home for the past four weeks. The RNA PCR test results won’t be back until Wednesday.

  4. I hope your friends get better soon. I wonder when most of us will know directly know a person with the virus.

  5. Husband of my wife’s acquaintance from our son’s school is in the hospital, with a lot of tubes in his nose. He’s relatively stable, so far.

    Based on what I’ve read about Taiwan and Japan’s experiences, I really think masks would help, for everyone, to reduce giving and catching the virus, when outside the home. Surgical masks good, N95 better. Homemade better than nothing.

  6. G C: apparently the CDC is trying to decide whether to recommend that people wear home-made masks in public.

    Philip, here’s more data for you on the effectiveness of social distancing measures, from a company that makes Internet-connected thermometers (Kinsa). As people get fevers and check their temperature, they’ve been getting 160,000 temperature readings a day. This gives Kinsa data a week earlier than hospitalizations.

    For some hard-hit cities, Kinsa also sent The New York Times fever data plotted on a timeline of restrictions enacted by mayors or governors.

    Those graphs, Dr. Schaffner noted, showed that simply declaring a state of emergency or limiting the size of public gatherings did not affect the number of people reporting fevers.

    But closing restaurants and bars and asking people to stay in their homes produced dramatic results in all three cities.

    For example, in Manhattan, reports of fevers steadily rose during early March, despite a declaration of emergency on March 7 and an order on March 12 that public gatherings be restricted to less than 500 people.

    The turning point began on March 16, the day schools were closed. Bars and restaurants were closed the next day, and a stay-at-home order took effect on March 20. By March 23, new fevers in Manhattan were below their March 1 levels.

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