Coronavirus patient: I will survive

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Photo by Julie Viken from Pexels
By Glenn Townes
Glenn.townes@njurbannews.com

A 57-year-old New Jersey man sits quarantined and in stable condition at a New York City hospital--less than a week after testing positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19).

He is one of nearly a dozen patients isolated at the metro area hospital---battling a virus that has  cold cocked the country—the world.

For many, it's an eerily similar image from nearly 40 years ago—a doctor and nurse each draped in Hazmat suits including masks and plastic face shields--nervously entering the hospital room of a patient suspected of having a mysterious and potentially fatal communicable disease. The disease would eventually become HIV/AIDS. Fast forward several decades and another enigma has emerged--called COVID-19. Similar to HIV/AIDS, it has become a pandemic that is pummeling everyone in it's global path-- with a vengeance not seen since the days of the HIV/AIDS virus. The human to human transmissible and highly contagious disease has spread across more than 100 countries and has afflicted more than 120,000 people—including dozens in the metro New York and New Jersey area—a figure that continues to increase daily.

In an exclusive interview with NJ URBAN NEWS, the patient, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he thought he was suffering the aftereffects of a bad cold. “I had a fever Sunday night and started having breathing and respiratory issues,” he said.

It became apparent that his ailments were more serious. “I thought it was the flu but it turned out to be a lot worse,” he said. After having a series of tests performed at a local hospital, he received the grim news from doctors on Friday. “I tested positive for the Coronavirus and may have exposed others to it.” he said. “I'm on oxygen and an antibiotic regimen to fight infections.”

According to various data, telltale signs of COVID-19 includes a persistent shortness of breath—as the virulent virus attacks the lungs; coughing; lethargy and an abnormally low white blood cell count. For example, the average white blood cell count in a healthy person ranges between between 10.0 and 11.0 leukocytes. A low white blood count weakens the immune system and makes the body less formidable to combat infections and viruses like COVID-19. “When I was admitted to the hospital my white blood count was about 4.5 and I couldn't breath,” he said. “I thought I was going to be on a ventilator.”

He added, “My doctor thinks the virus has made its way through my body and I'll be OK,” he said. “The virus damaged my lungs.” He will remain in isolation for several more days. “I got this,” he concluded. “I'm focusing on staying alive.” It remains unclear if after exposure to COVID-19, an individual becomes immune or the virus will reoccur.

Finally, in a related matter, like thousands of other commuters, the professional man frequently travels between New York and New Jersey—substantially increasing the possibility of transmitting the virus to others. Last week, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Perisichilli said the state is actively exploring the possibility of mitigating and lowering the risk of transmission by imploring employers allow people to work from home. “Videoconferencing and web calling are options to commuting,” she said.  Also, one of the state's largest employers, Amazon encouraged its employees to work remotely, if possible.

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