By Debra Moore
CDC scientists released information this week acknowledging what many local residents have suspected since the onset — coronavirus was circulating in the United States long before originally thought.
“SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been in the United States in December 2019, earlier than previously recognized,” the scientists wrote, pointing to antibodies found in blood samples taken by the Red Cross from Dec. 13, 2019 to Jan. 17 of this year. The CDC scientists reported that 39 samples taken from individuals in California, Oregon and Washington between Dec. 13-16 contained antibodies, while 67 samples taken from Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Connecticut individuals between Dec. 30 and Jan. 17 also contained antibodies.
Earlier this year we asked our Plumas News readers if they suspected that they had coronavirus this past winter. More than 40 individuals responded; many listing symptoms that we have come to associate with coronavirus. The respondents included a mix of men and women ranging in age from their late teens to their 70s. Most were from the Quincy and Eastern Plumas areas. In light of the CDC’s announcement, we thought it would be interesting to share some of their responses. The names have been removed to protect their privacy.
“I believe I had Coronavirus in December/January. I was so sick, and so weak for almost six weeks. I would spike a high fever several times a day — the whole bed would be wet from sweating at night. The cough was awful and would not go away. The doctor told me I had an upper respiratory infection and there was nothing they could do to help me. Just rest and drink lots of water. I remember laying on the couch thinking I was going to die. My spine hurt so bad, my whole body ached and I had absolutely no energy.”
“In February my family and I traveled to Reno to a Jiu Jitsu tournament with people from all over. Days later we became very sick. My son and I had horrific body aches, temperatures. There were many uncomfortable symptoms, but the body aches and weakness were beyond any other type of illness I have experienced. My son’s fever would spike up to 102.5. We did go to the doctor in (Quincy). We were asked to wear a mask and asked if we recently traveled out of the country. The doctor eliminated flu and strep. She diagnosed both of us with respiratory infections and prescribed antibiotics. Symptoms did not diminish. It took a long time to feel better and when we felt better, we still hung on to a hacking cough for weeks after.”
“My wife and two children and I went on a ski vacation to Salt Lake City from Jan 26-31. On Feb. 3 I came home early from work with aches, chills and soon a fever of 102 that lasted four days. The sore throat and cough came on in day two. My cough lasted for two weeks after the rest of the symptoms ended. My wife and children all followed. My son who never ever stops moving, even when he is sick, slept in his bed for 30 hours. This was the sickest we have ever been.”
“The first part of December I became very ill. Body aches, high fever, feeling like I was drowning, just like I couldn’t get any air. I had a horrible cough, which never completely went away. The doctor said it must be a virus and to rest. I had no energy to do anything other than rest. Then again the first of March, I became very sick again with very similar symptoms.”
“In December, I caught a head cold with a lingering cough that was gradually getting better. Then, I got a fever of over 100 degrees. I also got body aches, chills, and night sweats. I had constant drainage down the back of my throat, but my nose wasn’t running. I also lost my sense of taste for a couple of days. The whole thing felt different than a normal bug, and also involved a bad stomach in the beginning. I suspect that this might have been coronavirus. Two of my coworkers were also sick at the same time with similar symptoms.”
“My whole family was sick in January for a couple of weeks, but my youngest daughter, who is 6, had it the worst. It lasted for about two weeks and eventually we went to the emergency room in Portola on Jan. 29 because she lost her vision and couldn’t speak for a few minutes after waking up. By the time we got to the hospital she was acting more normal and they said that she had some virus, not the flu, and I should just keep treating her symptoms and come back if it got worse. Cough medicine was not effective at all. That same night a friend brought her son to the ER while we were there with similar symptoms where he was very “out of it” almost hallucinating, along with the low fever and terrible cough.”
“I was in LA in November, December, January and February. I traveled by plane. I came back in December or January and was so sick for about eight days with chest congestion, sore throat, body ache, fever and other flu symptoms (even though I had a flu shot.) My mom caught it from me and she was sick almost two months and had to get a shot to keep her lungs clear.”
“On Jan. 1, I woke up with a sore throat, fever, body aches and what kind of felt like the start of a head cold. Every night I woke up in a pool of sweat, to the point I had to place a towel behind my neck regularly taking Tylenol to help ease the fevers. A week later I went to the ER as I just wasn’t getting better. I was diagnosed with pneumonia and given an antibiotic I’ve never heard of. Again I laid around for another week feeling like I wouldn’t get better and suddenly I had a new symptom of chest pain; my neck hurt like I had pulled a muscle from coughing so hard. I tried to get into the doctor without any luck. On Jan. 16, I went to the ER and they ran a heart enzyme test because of my symptoms. It came back that I had a heart attack. I was transferred to Renown and diagnosed as having a SCAD heart attack. I’ve never had high blood pressure or high cholesterol and still don’t. I do believe I had COVID and it’s ultimately what caused my heart attack.”
“I am not a sick person. I do not do flu shots; don’t get the flu. Maybe a cold each year. In January, woke up with a severe sore throat and headache. Treated it with Tylenol. Day progressed, chills with shakes, zero desire for food, 101.2 fever and so tired. Following day, same symptoms but shortness of breath. This lasted about six days then a cough began. The cough lasted almost 3 weeks. I used Tylenol and Theraflu to get comfortable. Have not been this sick in decades. I am a 61-year-old female, exercise three days a week, and try and eat healthy. I assumed flu virus. However; as COVID 19 unfolded, I believe that is what I had. Whatever it was, I’d like to never experience it again.”
“I’m a nurse working in a local skilled nursing facility. In February, I started off with sore throat, headache and nausea, then about three days later fever, severe cough and fatigue. I missed work spanning over two weeks.”
“I believe my niece and my father-in-law may have had this virus during the winter. I took my niece to the doctor and they said she didn’t have the flu, but some other severe respiratory infection. She had a fever of 102.5 for almost a week straight and could barely breath. She has finally gotten rid of the cough … it took about 3-4 months for the cough to subside. My father-in-law was diagnosed with a form of pneumonia but hadn’t really been anywhere out of the ordinary.”
“I suspect we may have had the virus this past winter. I did not travel out of the country, but I got sick with some kind of lung infection that I have never had before. I went to see a doctor in Portola, as Quincy was booked, to see if I had pneumonia or something like that. The medical assistant took my vitals and they were good. When she left, the doctor came in wearing a face mask. She prescribed an antibiotic for a possible bronchial infection. After the course of my antibiotics, I was still very sick. I had a terrible cough that took two months to get rid of. My breathing was a constant wheezing and very congested. Many times my husband would ask if I was ok because my breathing was so bad. I would get tired and out of breath just climbing up a flight of stairs. I had no fever, but did end up with night sweats. I was out of work for 2 weeks.”
“My husband and I work in Quincy but live in Clio and both of us believe we had the virus, along with my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law actually had it the worst, and experienced every symptom including loss of smell. She also tested negative for the flu. About a week later, my husband and I both developed the sore throat, fever, and the nonproductive cough that lasted at least two weeks. We didn’t go to the doctor, so we were not tested for the flu. My 4-year-old grandson spends every weekend with us and I believe he had the virus as well. We took him to the children’s emergency room in Reno twice because he couldn’t breathe; the second time he was admitted and stayed overnight because the breathing treatments weren’t working and his oxygen levels were low. He also had a sore throat, fever, and chills. While at the hospital, they tested him for the flu; it was negative.
“We really feel that my husband’s parents were hospitalized with the virus during the first week of January. We attended a conference in San Francisco the week of Dec. 15, 2019 and I came down with a horrible “flu.” So tired that I couldn’t get out of bed, fever, and horrible cough that lingered months later. Weird hot flashes. At Christmas his mother was so sick she couldn’t walk or eat and when we finally got her to go to the ER, her potassium level was low and threatening her heart. The day she got out, her husband went into the hospital with fever, sore throat and the worst cough ever. He was in for three days. All they said was that it was a strange respiratory infection.”
“I was VERY sick in early February for almost two weeks. It started with shortness of breath. Then I had a fever for multiple days and a sore throat for a few days. A very persistent dry cough lasted over three weeks. Horrible headache. I felt like I had been run over by two trains. After a week I would feel better for a day, only to feel worse for the next couple of days. That pattern repeated. I was not tested for anything. I stayed home and self quarantined. My landlord and friend had the same thing but seemed to be a couple of days ahead of me with symptoms. Her husband traveled to SF and LA weekly for work. He did not have symptoms. I traveled extensively over the winter, mostly back and forth to southern CA. On my final trip home via SFO at the beginning of February I was sitting in SFO surrounded by 50 Chinese travelers all wearing masks.”
“My wife and I both had an infection starting with her in January. She went into to see a doctor who had her tested for Influenza A and B and both tests were negative. Her symptoms were very similar. I came down with the same “virus” in early February. I saw a physician’s assistant who did not test me for Influenza A and B but did prescribe antibiotics. I was having to sit up at night to get some sleep and get air into my airways. I don’t know if the antibiotics helped, but I did slowly improve …. Both of us had symptoms for five to six weeks.”
“I think my daughter got sick in January with all the hallmark symptoms. The most troubling was her shortness of breath and she complained a lot that her mental state was foggy. She is 19 years old and on the FRC beach volleyball team. She had been traveling all over southern California with her team in December and January. She got sick in early January. She thought it was the usual flu, but in early February she realized she had been sick for a whole month with no sign of it getting better. She went to the doctor who told her she had bronchitis. The doctor did not listen to her breath, look at her throat or ears, take her blood oxygen saturation, or touch her in any way. She was prescribed antibiotics, which did nothing for her. We all started wondering if she had corona virus, but didn’t think it was even in the U.S. yet. She was sick for another three weeks before she finally started getting better.”
“Last week in February. A week-long fever with excruciating headache. No breathing difficulties though. PDH tested me for influenza A, B, even strep, came back with nothing. Toughed it out with Nyquil, Dayquil and fluids. Stayed home till the fever broke, lasted a week for me.”
“My husband, sister and I had something that started as a sinus infection before Christmas. Our symptoms were severe and took several weeks to get over. My sister said she was hallucinating and her heart was pounding so fast. Her husband took her to the ER. My husband was up all night, couldn’t breathe. I guess I was delirious because I was forgetting time, or where I was — what day, what year. The cough came at the end and dragged on for several more days after the other symptoms subsided. I think we were sick three to four months.”
“I work at PHS and I came down with symptoms overnight of fever, and shortness of breath. I could not get out of bed for three days, just three days before Christmas. I had a flu shot and hadn’t been sick in years. There were other staff members that came down with the same symptoms as I did, but got much sicker than I did with the cough too within the same month.”
“In mid February, my wife and I experienced high fever, aches, extreme headache, extreme pain in body, (head and body pain not relieved by ibuprofen), very swollen glands and sore throat, sweating and chills, loss of appetite for a week, nausea, diarrhea … followed by lack of energy, sore lungs and terrible coughing that lasted 3 1/2 weeks after onset. In the weeks following we’d feel like we were getting better, then the next day we’d feel terrible. We had very low energy for weeks. It was the worst sickness either of us had ever had.”
As stated earlier this is a sampling of those who shared their stories. Some indicated that they planned to be tested for antibodies. Plumas News followed up with them and learned of those who were tested, none of the results indicated that they had antibodies for coronavirus.
According to information released by the CDC in early November, the antibody tests “are not 100 percent accurate and some false positive results or false negative results may occur.”
Local health experts have acknowledged that the virus could have been circulating in Plumas County based on the symptoms of those who sought care, but there were no documented cases until an Eastern Plumas resident tested positive March 31.
Jan. 9: China announces mysterious pneumonia flu near Wuhan
Jan. 20: CDC announces screenings at three U.S. airports: JFK in New York and SFO and LAX in California
Jan. 21: CDC confirms first U.S. case (a Washington state man who returned from Wuhan) and China confirms first human transmission
Jan. 31: World Health Organization declares global health emergency
Feb. 2: Global air travel restrictions
Feb. 3: U.S. declares public health emergency
March 6-21: Passengers test positive on cruise ships
March 13: President Trump declares COVID19 a national emergency; travel ban from Europe
March 19: California issues stay-at-home order
March 26: Senate passes CARES Act
March 31: First Plumas resident tests positive.
June 12: U.S. Covid cases reach 2 million
July 7: U.S. Covid cases surpass 3 million
Aug. 7: Talks stall on second relief package
Aug. 28: First known case of COVID reinfection in the U.S.
Sept. 28: Global deaths surpass 1 million
Nov. 11: Determined indoor venues responsible for spread
Dec. 1: Plumas reports 230 cases to date