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What Does COVID-19 Feel Like? One Patient Shares His Experience


Health officials say 80% of COVID-19 cases will be mild to moderate. But what does that look like?

CHRISTOPHER GONZALES LACORTE: My name is Christopher Gonzales LaCorte. I'm 27 years old. I live in Atlanta, Ga.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He's a bartender and a server. But he hasn't been able to work in a while. About two weeks ago, around March 13, Gonzales LaCorte got sick. It started with just a sore throat. But then...

GONZALES LACORTE: I had the full set of symptoms that were aligning with both the flu and COVID-19. I had a headache behind my eyes to the point that I couldn't move my eyes. I had fever and night sweats, body aches and tightness in my chest.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Christopher Gonzales LaCorte started sending us voice memos about his experience for our Outbreak Diaries project. He recorded this one on Friday, March 20.

GONZALES LACORTE: I decided to call the COVID-19 hotline, got prescreened by a nurse who then told me that I should go to the emergency room in order to try to get tested for COVID-19. However, I was told as soon as I walked into the emergency room that there were no tests available for anyone. They had run out of tests essentially the day before.

The X-ray came back positive for pneumonia, which is one of the symptoms for COVID-19. So they told me that I was presumptively positive for it. They told me to quarantine myself for 14 days to make sure that the spread of the virus was not happening.

So it is my fourth day in quarantine. And I just finished my fourth day. I am starting to feel a little bit better. People are scared to be in their apartments and be away from people right now. And as a very extroverted person, I 100% understand that. However, I also realize that this is much larger than me. So I have to be in quarantine in order to prevent the virus from spreading.


GONZALES LACORTE: Wednesday - I believe it's the 25. I'm on Day 6 of quarantine, and I'm feeling like a new person. Most of my symptoms are gone. I definitely still feel wheezing in my chest. My anxiety and my depression are really high right now. There were a few people who recently passed because of COVID-19. And it's hard to feel better about yourself because you've made it through it because there are other people who are not.


GONZALES LACORTE: So it is officially Day 7 of my quarantine, and I'm feeling a lot better. The only symptoms that I'm still having are the persistent cough, the phlegm and the heavy breathing in my right lung, which I can still feel that there's fluid, which is where the pneumonia came from - starting to move a little bit easier. It's been three days without any other symptoms, like the fever, the body aches, the chills, anything like that.

On the plus side, health is looking better. On the minus and on the con side, there's a lot of things that are going wrong with people who are not observing that social distance and people who are just pushing this off and brushing this off as if it's nothing to worry about.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Christopher Gonzales LaCorte of Atlanta, who shared his story via voice memo through our Outbreak Diaries project. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.