COVID-19: One family's story
After COVID-19 struck him, three members of his family and presumably three other loved ones, a Tri-State area man is urging people not to mess around with the new coronavirus.
The 34-year-old man agreed to an interview with the understanding that he would not be identified.
The man said he is an essential employee in Franklin County.
For the purposes of this story, he will be identified as Mark.
Mark thinks he contracted COVID-19 during an airplane flight early last month during a skiing trip to a western state.
Mark said the first day after he returned home, he began to feel tired and achy. But he attributed it to skiing and jet lag.
The next day, Mark felt worse with congestion developing. So he went to his doctor. The doctor told Mark she did not believe he had coronavirus. And besides, the doctor said she didn't have a test for the disease anyway.
Mark said he had his worst symptoms on March 11 and 12, when conditions like headaches and a sore throat were added to the mix.
He felt better on March 13, although he began developing a cough.
Mark went back to the doctor on March 18, and by that time, physicians' offices were starting to take precautions against COVID-19.
"I had to drive to the back of the office and everything," said Mark, who added that members of the staff were also wearing masks and gloves.
He also discovered that his sister, who lives in Schuylkill County tested positive for COVID-19. But Mark had not been around his sister. But he had been around his mother, who had been in contact with his sister.
Given his sister's diagnosis, his cough and that more coronavirus tests were becoming available, Mark's doctor decided to test him for the disease.
Mark was told on March 26 that he had COVID-19. His parents, who live in Franklin County, were tested and were notified around March 27 that they had coronavirus, Mark said.
Mark's mother is 67 years old and his dad is 65. Mark said his mother had been feeling achy before the COVID-19 crisis. After her diagnosis, she began experiencing serious back pain and fluid buildup in her lungs.
She was hospitalized for several days.
"It was a big difference after one day," Mark said of his mother's hospital stay. She was given some medication, although Mark is not sure what was administered to her.
Mark said his dad had minor symptoms.
Because his sister tested positive, Mark said doctors presumed that his sister's husband and their two children have COVID-19.
Mark said after he was tested, his doctor told him to stay at home until his results came back. Because his symptoms had largely disappeared by the time he got his test results eight days later, his doctor told him he could return to his job.
Mark said he also had to get clearance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to return to work on March 30.
Mark said one thing he has learned from his family's experience with the disease is that there can be so many different symptoms. Because of that, he urged people not to be an "at home doctor," and instead seek professional medical help if they believe they might have COVID-19.
Mark said he also thinks about the importance of stopping the spread of the disease.
"It really hit me when my mom went into the hospital. This is real now," said Mark.
He hopes his story will convince others to think about people around them.
"I'd tell people not to think of themselves, but think of someone you love," he said.