Elizabeth Schneider of Seattle went to a party in late February — and three days later started feeling sick, Agence France-Presse reported.
"I woke up and I was feeling tired, but it was nothing more than what you normally feel when you have to get up and go to work, and I had been very busy the previous weekend," the 37-year-old told AFP in an interview Wednesday.
But by the middle of the day, Schneider told the outlet she had a headache, fever, and body aches — so she went home and took a nap.
'A little concerning'
When she woke up, Schneider had a high temperature, which peaked at 103 degrees, the AFP said.
"And at that point, I started to shiver uncontrollably, and I was getting the chills and getting tingling in my extremities, so that was a little concerning," she added to the outlet.
She picked up some over-the-counter flu medications and called a friend to be on alert in case she needed to be taken to an emergency room — but the fever began to go away after a few more days, the AFP noted.
Schneider had taken note of coronavirus in the news — particularly that the first U.S. case reared its head in Washington in late January — but the bioengineering Ph.D. didn't have the most common symptoms, such as coughing and shortness of breath, the outlet said.
But a few days later, she saw a friend's Facebook post stating that several people from the party she attended in late February had developed similar symptoms, the AFP reported, adding that in the end at least five other partygoers were infected.
Some of the party attendees saw doctors, who determined they didn't have the flu but also didn't offer coronavirus tests, since they — like Schneider — weren't coughing or having trouble breathing, the outlet said.
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Knowing that she would also likely be turned down for the test, she decided to enroll in a research program called the Seattle Flu Study, hoping it might provide an answer. The team behind the study sent her a nasal swab kit, which she mailed back and waited several more days.
"I finally got a phone call from one of the research coordinators on Saturday (March 7), telling me that 'You have tested positive for COVID-19,'" she said.
"I was a little bit pleasantly surprised, because I thought it was a little bit cool," Schneider admitted, laughing, though her mother cried when she told her.
"Granted, I probably would not have felt that way if I was severely ill," she said. "But from a scientific curiosity perspective, I thought it was very interesting. And also the fact that I finally got confirmation that that's what I had."
At that point, the outlet said, Schneider's symptoms had subsided, and local health authorities told her to stay home for at least seven days after the onset of symptoms or 72 hours after they subsided.
When she spoke to the AFP, it had been a week for her of feeling better, and Schneider said she's started running errands but is still avoiding large gatherings and continuing to work from home.
Indeed, the outlet said, Washington has become the U.S. epicenter for coronavirus, with more than 260 cases and at least two dozen deaths, compared to nationwide stats of more than 1,100 cases and 30 deaths.
A message for all of us
Schneider told the AFP that she hoped her story — which likely will be typical of a vast majority of coronavirus cases — could be a comfort to others.
"The message is don't panic," she added to the outlet. "If you think that you have it, you probably do; you should probably get tested."
She also warned in an interview with KING-TV that "I think a lot of people are contracting this virus and not really realizing it."
But Schneider offered a bit of fun advice as well, the AFP noted: "If your symptoms aren't life-threatening, simply stay at home, medicate with over-the-counter medicines, drink lots of water, get a lot of rest and check out the shows you want to binge-watch."
Seattle woman who survived coronavirus shares her story youtu.be