Trusted Travel Girl was careful and she still got coronavirus

Mar 22, 2020

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As the days go by, more and more cities across the world are issuing versions of “shelter in place” orders in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19. Some countries have even gone as far as instituting nationwide lockdowns. TPG Senior Writer, Lori Zaino, shared her firsthand experience under mandatory quarantine in Spain.

The coronavirus outbreak has now been going on for nearly three months, although cases in U.S. and U.K. didn’t start rapidly spreading until the past few weeks.

Experts are saying that they aren’t able to forecast just how many people will be infected given the lack of information, “It’s like only being able to accurately forecast the weather using a temperature gauge”, said Jim Hare, a research vice president at technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Personally, I know five people who have contracted the virus including Valerie Wilson a.k.a. Trusted Travel Girl. Valerie is a close friend of TPG’s and graciously agreed to talk with me about her diagnosis. Here’s everything you need to know courtesy of someone who has firsthand experience with COVID-19.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

Taking precautions

Prior to contracting COVID-19, Wilson had been taking all of the advised precautions. She washed her hands religiously, brought her hand sanitizer with her everywhere, took showers after going out in public and even wore latex gloves while grocery shopping.

Unsurprisingly, people have been asking her where she thinks she could have contracted it, “I have no idea”.

Wilson hadn’t been travelling much recently, in fact, she had only taken one round-trip flight in the past month. That was at the end of February when the coronavirus seemed like a remote issue.

“I think it’s just as likely that I picked it up at the grocery store as I could have on an aeroplane”, she shared.

She even noted that she’s a self-proclaimed “seat-wiping, hand-sanitizing queen” so if it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone… regardless of how careful you are.

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The symptoms & diagnosis

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Life Update: Coronavirus edition… I have it. I tested positive. I haven’t been feeling well since last Sunday night (March 8th). It started with what felt like a very mild fever, but it was so low it was only 99 degrees F, and only for a really short time one evening. Normally, I run wicked high fevers of 101,102, so I didn’t think much of it. I also started to get these weird sensations that I couldn’t explain. Waves of just a weird feeling that would last a split seconds go away and then come back. I told my doctor that it felt like I was short-circuiting. So, I went to the cardiologist. Then I had the sniffles, and lost my ability to smell or taste. I had some bloodwork done and my doctor checked me out. He said if my lungs didn’t sound good he would have given me a coronavirus test. I was amazed he even had any. Cough started Monday or Tuesday, and progressively got worse. I had panic attacks all night Thursday night worried I had it. On Friday morning I went straight to my GP with no appointment. I walked in and he looked at me and his face dropped. He said “your white blood cell count is VERY low”, so we took more blood and I got the COVID-19 test. Today (Monday) I finally got the test back. It’s positive. I’m a huge germaphobe. If I can get it, anyone can. Not to get political, but the government is lying to us about how many have it. MANY people have it— it’s just not confirmed because we have no way to test. Be safe, stay indoors. As for me, my cough is pretty scary, I’m honestly not doing well mentally. I have underlying conditions, I also took Advil and had a cortisone shot which you aren’t supposed to do. But I’m confident I will be okay taking care of myself at home. my instructions are to stay home for two weeks and then get another test. I’m to go to the emergency room only if I can’t breathe. I’ve been pretty much quarantining myself since last Wednesday so, I don’t think I have infected too many. I had to make a few calls to people who I could have infected which was very embarrassing, and felt horrible. You don’t want to be responsible for infecting someone. Stay home. Isolate. ——— #coronapocalypse #coronavirus2019 #travelgirl #glt @cnn

A post shared by Valerie Joy Wilson ???? Traveler (@trustedtravelgirl) on

On 8 March, Wilson started to come down with the sniffles and what she thought was a fever. A thermometer kept giving her inconsistent readings, so she tried a different one that consistently told her she had slightly elevated temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit, but that only lasted for an hour. At that point, Wilson wasn’t too concerned so she rubbed on some Vicks and took some Advil.

Later that same evening, Wilson started to feel a bit worse. She described weird sensations that felt like she was short-circuiting. The next morning she went to the cardiologist, worried that something was wrong with her heart. Nothing serious showed up, so she returned home again. 

The following day, Wilson woke up with a cough. She already had a doctor appointment scheduled for other concerns, so she went in described it. The doctor listened to her lungs and, determining that they sounded healthy, didn’t order a COVID-19 test.

As the days went on, Wilson started to lose her senses of taste and smell. This was about the same time that the news started to become very bleak in the U.S. and everyone started to panic, including Wilson.

Wilson was convinced that she had it, so she went back to the doctor that Friday, 13 March without an appointment. “Before I could even tell him my symptoms were worse he said, ‘your white blood cell count is really low and I’m a little concerned”, she shared.

After that, they put Wilson in a back room. The doctor entered with a mask and gloves and shut the door — that’s when Wilson knew it was serious. The doctor ran the test and advised Wilson to stay home until the results came back.

Three days later, on 16 March, Wilson got the call from her doctor that she had tested positive for COVID-19. This came a little over a week after she first started to feel ill.

Dealing with coronavirus

After the positive test, Wilson’s doctor told her that the health department would get in touch, and that she needed to stay inside. She was advised to only go to the hospital if she couldn’t breathe.

As for treatments, the doctor advised her to take Zinc, which can help people resist infectious diseases. The CDC also advised this. Unfortunately, Zinc was sold out in nearly every store in LA but a friend of Wilson’s came through with some.

When I asked how she’s been feeling, she shared that she’s been progressively getting better, with the exception of the cough.

Advice for travellers

Coronavirus is thought to have incubation times ranging from 1-14 days. That’s why “It’s so important to know that everybody reacts differently to the same thing. I thought I had the sniffles and then the cough came… that’s when it became a bit more serious”, shared Wilson.

Wilson advises even those with any symptoms whatsoever to stay home.

“Staying home is really crucial because you could be carrying this thing around and getting other people sick without even knowing that you’re sick yourself”.

Here at TPG we love to travel. After all, it’s our business. What we love even more than travelling ourselves is sharing our tips, tricks and advice with all of our readers. The best advice we can offer right now is to stay home and start planning trips to take once this is all over.

Featured photo by Paul Biris/Getty Images.

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