Physician Outlook

Finding Hope In The Face Of Panic

The world events in the last month have led to some never-seen-before federal, state and local restrictions placed on all Americans as a result of the coronavirus or COVID-19.

Schools, churches, restaurants and other public places of gathering have closed; sporting events, music festivals, tradeshows, and vacations have been canceled and most of the US workforce is now working from home as we are all observing a form of self-quarantine in an effort to eradicate the spread of this novel virus that so far has claimed over 200 US deaths and affected more than 15,000 people (CDC, March 22 update). While news outlets and social media are full of fear and panic, one woman who has contracted and recovered from this virus has a message for all of us and has shared her story hoping to “give people a little bit of hope” during these uncertain times.


The CDC’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus occurred near Seattle, Washington, not too far from where 37- year-old Seattle resident Elizabeth Schneider attended a small house party with friends on the night of February 22nd. She described what happened next to Agence France-Presse (AFP) and now encourages people not to panic, in fact, she wants to offer a bit of hope. Schneider, a marketing manager with a doctorate in bioengineering, began to feel ill during work 3 days after the party. She described her symptoms to include headache, nausea, and body aches with a fever that reached 103 degrees Fahrenheit later that night when she began to “shiver uncontrollably” and experienced “tingling in [her] extremities”.  She recounted that without the characteristic symptoms of COVID-19 that includes cough or difficulty breathing, she wasn’t tested for COVID-19. However, when several others from the party also fell ill, with similar symptoms around the same time, their doctors believed they all had the flu and weren’t tested for coronavirus. Tests provided all came back negative for the flu. However, things just didn’t sit well with Schneider who learned about an organization that had testing kits available so she enrolled at the Seattle Flu Study, and was issued a test for the virus which later confirmed she was positive. By the time she was given her results she already felt better. Local health authorities urged her to stay home for at least seven days after the onset of symptoms which she noted were all treated with over-the-counter meds, some rest and fluids.


While US health authorities say 80% of the cases have been mild, symptoms may include: cough, fever, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. In severe cases, pneumonia can develop. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks after being exposed. The best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to keep a safe distance from one another and avoid being around those who are actively coughing or sneezing. Other considerations are a persons’ age and prior health status which may affect recovery times and severity, resulting in our elderly population and those who have recently been sick or have a compromised immune system as a high risk for contracting the virus.


“The message is don’t panic,” Schneider told AFP. “Obviously, it’s not something to be completely nonchalant about, because there are a lot of people who are elderly or have underlying health conditions,” she said. “If you are healthy, if you are younger, if you take good care of yourself when you’re sick, you will recover, I believe. And I’m living proof of that.” 

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