Carl Goldman, one of the Americans who contracted the coronavirus while quarantined on the cruise ship Diamond Princess, is speaking out about his experience with the disease.
Despite the severe stock market downturn this week over fears coronavirus could trigger an uncontrollable pandemic, Goldman said the viral disease is not really as bad as some have made it out to be — at least for him.
"I am in my late 60s, and the sickest I've ever been was when I had bronchitis several years ago. That laid me out on my back for a few days. This has been much easier: no chills, no body aches. I breathe easily, and I don't have a stuffy nose. My chest feels tight, and I have coughing spells. If I were at home with similar symptoms, I probably would have gone to work as usual," Goldman explained in an essay for the Washington Post.
Upon returning to the U.S. from Japan, after spending 14 days in quarantine on the Diamond Princess, officials with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shipped Goldman and his wife — who does not have the disease — to a biocontainment center at the University of Nebraska hospital, the same one used during the Ebola outbreak last decade.
During the first few days, the hospital staff hooked me up to an IV, mostly as a precaution, and used it to administer magnesium and potassium, just to make sure I had plenty of vitamins. Other than that, my treatment has consisted of what felt like gallons and gallons of Gatorade — and, when my fever rose just above 100 degrees, some ibuprofen. The nurses came to the room every four hours or so, to check my vitals, ask if I needed anything and to draw my blood.
I got very good at unhooking all the monitors checking my oxygen level, blood pressure and heart rate so I could go to the bathroom or just pace around the room a little, to get my blood flowing. I never quite got the hang of hooking them back up without making a tangled mess. After 10 days, I moved out of biocontainment and into the same facility as Jeri. Now we can videochat from our separate quarantines, in neighboring rooms.
"It's surreal to see everyone panic — news conferences, the stock market falling, school closures — about a disease I have. It does seem likely that coronavirus will spread in the United States, but it won't help anybody if we all panic," Goldman went on to write.
But it was Goldman's advice for the world that has many people talking about his essay.
"Based on my experience, I'd recommend that everyone get a good digital thermometer, just as a comfort tool, so they can reassure themselves if their noses start running," he said. "Coronavirus doesn't have to be a horrible calamity."
As of Saturday, people in more than 60 countries have contracted the rapidly spreading disease. There are at least 66 confirmed cases in the U.S., while South Korea, Italy, and Iran are hardest hit outside of mainland China so far.
In response, Goldman's essay generated significant discussion online.
"Damn, trying to 'both-sides' diseases now?" one person responded.
"Was this...written by the coronavirus?" another person mocked.
Another person noted, "'So far' is doing a lot of heavy lifting here."
"For a rounded perspective, I'd like to hear from a couple people who are on their third week of being on a ventilator," another person said.