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AKRON, Ohio – Amy Driscoll followed all the recommended protocols.
Wash your hands. Use hand sanitizer. Don’t touch your face.
The Hudson, Ohio, resident still contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has caused daily life in many places around the world to come to a screeching halt.
Her first reaction when her test results came back: “Are you kidding me?”
Driscoll became the second confirmed case of COVID-19 in Ohio’s Summit County last week, posting about her experience on Facebook – under her maiden name of Brock – as a way to encourage others to take the disease seriously.
“I was really sick,” she said. “I was really scared there for a little while about how sick I was.”
Summit County Public Health could not confirm or deny whether Driscoll was the second confirmed case in the county, identifying the individual only as a person in their 40s.
Driscoll is 48 and provided the Akron Beacon Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, with documentation from her hospitalization. The paperwork indicates she is to remain quarantined and that she is required to notify anyone who treats her that she is under investigation for COVID-19.
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Facebook InfoSnip ‘My body has been through a battle’
As of Monday afternoon, the state reported 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio.
Driscoll, who is home now under quarantine, said she is starting to feel better but is still exhausted and dealing with symptoms like fatigue and headaches.
“Just like my body has been through a battle,” she said.
The mother of four said she was at work at an insurance company on Wednesday when around 3 p.m. she started to feel tired as if she was starting to get sick.
She went home at the end of the day and took her temperature, which was 99.2 degrees, just above normal. She said she took Motrin and fell asleep.
When she woke up at 3 a.m., she was coughing and her chest hurt.
“It was hard to get a breath in and my chest felt constricted,” Driscoll said. “It was like nothing I had ever quite experienced.”
She called her cousin, who is a nurse, and then University Hospitals’ Ahuja Medical Center. The hospital, she said, initially told her to call the Ohio Department of Health’s call center number, but at 3 a.m., there was no answer. Her cousin called Ahuja Medical Center back and told them Driscoll was on her way.
On arrival, Driscoll said, the hospital immediately put her into isolation. They informed her they needed to run a litany of other tests to rule out diseases like the flu and pneumonia, which she has had before. If all were negative, she could be tested for COVID-19.
By Friday night, after her fever reached around 102 degrees, she had a positive COVID-19 test result.
“I was like, are you sure?” Driscoll said. She received great care, she said, but she was the first patient her doctors had seen with the disease. She asked several questions about how her next few days and weeks might go.
“They shrug their shoulders a little bit and they say, ‘We don’t really know,’” she said.
They also do not know how she was exposed to the disease. Her ex-husband traveled abroad to Germany recently, and her son had contact with him and then with her, but because no one else is sick, that doesn’t appear to be the origin, Driscoll said.
She said she attended a Cleveland Cavaliers game the Saturday before with other members of her family before she got sick, just ahead of the NBA suspending its season, and before Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced schools would close.
Just a week ago, she noted, no one was quite sure how seriously to take the threat of coronavirus.
“In retrospect, we all went, ‘Oh maybe we should have made better decisions about that,’” Driscoll said.
Facebook InfoSnip Take the disease seriously: ‘People you love, their lives may depend on it’
The health department had her make a list of anyone she came into contact within the previous two weeks, and employees at her office at her insurance company, which she did not identify, are all working from home.
Hudson City Schools, where her son attends, sent an email to families Sunday morning, noting the health department had already made calls to any families who needed to be contacted as a result.
After two days in the hospital, where she was treated with IV fluids, pain medications for the headaches and fever reducers, Driscoll said she was finally starting to feel better and was allowed to go home.
She’s spending most of her days on her couch, watching movies with her son and getting up just to get a drink from the kitchen. She’s disappointed she won’t be able to vote on Tuesday.
When she logged into Facebook following her ordeal, she saw comment after comment from people who didn’t believe the disease was that big of a deal.
A friend from high school posted asking if anyone actually know anyone who was sick from COVID-19.
“And I thought – me,” Driscoll said.
Her public post, which was shared thousands of times, encouraged people to take the disease seriously.
“People you love, their lives may depend on it,” she said.
Follow reporter Jennifer Pignolet on Twitter @JenPignolet.
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