What It's Like Testing Positive For Coronavirus

Mar 26, 2020

As the coronavirus spreads in the Cape Fear Region, we’re learning more about how people are diagnosed and what treatment in isolation looks and feels like.

Casey has been living in Wilmington for almost three years, working on her master’s degree at UNCW. After traveling out of state last week, she started to feel sick.

“It honestly felt kind of like I had the flu, I had these body aches, chills, low grade fevers, sore throat. Since I suddenly felt like I had the flu right after getting back from an area like New York where they said like a thousand cases of coronavirus, I decided to call my doctor about coming in to get tested.”

And that’s exactly what health professionals are recommending: call ahead so your doctor’s office can prepare and limit their exposure. 

“They had me come around the back for safety reasons. And they had me put on gloves and a mask. They were wearing gloves and a mask and then they performed the test, which is when people get uncomfortable but at least it's quick.”

And what exactly is that test like?

“Oh, it hurts cause they have like this long Q-tip thing and they jab it like all the way up your nose.”

Those nasal swabs are first tested for the flu, with almost immediate results. If the flu test is negative, then a swab is sent to be tested for coronavirus.

Casey’s doctor’s office called Saturday morning to tell her she had tested positive for the virus. As for how she’s feeling now?

“It's kind of rough because this illness takes a long time to go away. It comes in waves, like you'll be feeling okay at one moment and then just like complete trash, and then for the next step, well I got contacted by the health department and I was put under very strict orders to stay in my apartment and not leave.”

Casey must stay at home for a minimum of seven days.

“But on top of that I have to be free of fever. Like, no, fever at all for 72 straight hours. (Freund: And are you there yet, Casey?) Nope. I think for me it will take longer than seven days because I have yet to have a morning where I don't have a low-grade fever.”

But Casey still feels like one of the lucky ones. She doesn’t fall into the higher-risk demographics, so she is hopeful about recovery. But she does have a message for the rest of us.

“People definitely need to know that it can happen to anyone. So it's as scary as that sounds, it never hurts to take precautions. And if you or someone you know, does wind up getting it, reach out, like keep in touch with people on the outside through those phone calls or FaceTiming because if you're stuck with the illness, it really can get very isolating and just having a community around you goes a long way."