While the pandemic wreaks havoc through the United States (and the globe), COVID-19 continues to uproot the lives of many Americans and reveal problem areas of our government and their lack of adequate response.
Wash your hands, stay six feet socially distanced from one another, and wear a mask! This is the mantra everyone has been reciting over the past year to stay safe and keep from contracting COVID-19. Practicing these safety measures is important, but it doesn’t mean you will be immune to catching the virus. My testing positive for COVID-19, alongside surviving the virus, left me with a first-hand account and knowledge of the deadly coronavirus strain.
Turning over in the bed at 5:37 a.m. one early January morning, shivering and covered in sweat, I knew that something wasn’t right. This combination of cold sweats and body aches came with a 100.1-degree fever, and a very dreadful case of anxiety. Thirty hours after spiking a fever I was leaving the drive-through testing facility at the big Baptist Hospital in West Little Rock.
Right out of the gate and even before definitively knowing my test results, the coronavirus was disrupting my life and instigating stress.
Once tested, a self-quarantine is required until you receive the results. And once the results are confirmed to be positive, the quarantine is in effect until you are symptom free.
After testing positive for COVID-19, I was bombarded by countless phone calls. The Arkansas Department of Health and Baptist Health reached out first, asking me a specific set of medical questions. The questions varied, relating to my symptoms and how I was feeling at the time.
A few hours later, calls from a contact tracer and my employer really cemented the fact in my brain that I was sick. I really did have COVID-19. While my symptoms evolved into losing my sense of smell and taste, I increasingly became weaker as the hours passed.
Dealing with the ramifications and aftermath of having COVD-19 is almost as detrimental as actually contracting the virus itself. Not only does the required fourteen-day quarantine disrupt daily living, the loss of wages that one would earn from working could be the difference between buying food and paying the water bill.
Life changed for me during and after coming down with COVID-19, in a couple different ways.
After being sick, I still have this ingrained fear of being around other people. An irrational fear, yes, but after being isolated for two weeks straight, the notion of being contagious doesn’t dissipate. The stigma imposed on COVID-19 positive individuals by the rest of society (and even our own selves) causes mental and emotional stress, on top of the physical stress of being sick.
Coming out on top of my battle with the coronavirus, the way I interact with people has forever been changed. I no longer shake hands, and you’re lucky if we bump elbows. When standing next to people I subconsciously distance myself at least six feet, without thinking. And it will be a few years before I feel comfortable touching my face again. Having COVID-19 changes the way you think and interact with people.
According to a research in an article produced by the Pew Research Center, many American’s and global citizens alike state that their lives have been changed due to the coronavirus. 68% of men in the United States claim their lives have been affected by COVID-19, whereas 79% of women claim the same.
I am one of the lucky few who contracted COVID-19, due to the financial and physical assistance from my parents. Most people who do contract the virus don’t have that direct line of support, making it much more difficult (and in some cases impossible) to recover.
With the lack of a national, unified response to the pandemic, mitigating practices, ordinances and guidance came from various different sources. Individual states required masks to be worn in public, while some states held events that would later become known as “super-spreader events”.
Denial of the mere existence of COVID-19 coupled with the poor national response in the U.S. created a vacuum in which the coronavirus was able to multiply, divide, variate and grow.
This coronavirus pandemic has highlighted all sorts of disparities within our government’s systems, from healthcare and the economy, to criminal justice and education. The pandemic has also made an example out of the United States and their less than favorable response to handling the deadly virus.
The same article and its research mentioned earlier by the Pew Research Center shows less than half of the U.S. population approving of the coronavirus response efforts being made. Around 41% of Americans approve of the inadequate response to COVID-19, which is not favorable.
“I’m just lucky I had such a mild experience,” Spencer Hamilton of Little Rock says, “It was still pretty rough, though.”
Hamilton contracted the virus around the same time I tested positive, and experienced a lot of the same symptoms, feelings, and thoughts that I and many other Americans faced while being sick.
“Even after a week or two, I still get chest pains and trouble breathing,” Hamilton says, “now the next step is to get vaccinated!”
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the lives of everyday people and highlight problem areas within our government and their pandemic response, it is more important than ever to follow healthcare professional’s guidance and advice. Wear a mask, wash your hands, social distance and most importantly, get vaccinated!
Take it from someone who’s temporarily lost two of his senses, being sick from COVID-19 is not something you want to try.