FAU Honors College Student Contracts COVID-19 While Working as an EMT

I am an EMT who was infected with COVID-19, this experience has forever changed my appreciation for life and my family. Earlier in the year when news of this virus first started emerging, I kept telling myself it would not affect us, that it would only be temporary. I am a neuroscience student at the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College of FAU. My life was pretty normal at that point, I was attending classes, interning at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, and working my regular hours on the weekends. Then spring break came around, my boss briefed us on the seriousness of the situation and established new protocol. This was all strange to me at first. My company then got contracted by the Department of Homeland Security and CDC to perform health screenings on incoming passengers at the Miami International Airport. I volunteered to participate in the detail, as I wanted to contribute in whichever way I could. My shifts at the airport were very strenuous, they would sometimes be up to sixteen hours. We were constantly on the move, from gate to gate, screening hundreds of passengers at a time. There was no time for food or rest. Wearing full PPE made things even harder, it was not comfortable. I knew I was taking a risk being down there, but I wanted to not only serve my country, but humanity, in a time of need. School was moved online after spring break, and I continued to work.It was March 27th when I first noticed I had a cough. The next morning I woke up in full sweat, body aches, fatigue, and a headache. I called off from work and my boss sent me to get tested. I got a flu test, along with chest x-rays. The doctor informed me I was negative for the flu and had acute bronchitis. I remained in isolation for the next few days. There came a point where I could not even walk to the bathroom without experiencing extreme shortness of breath. I would lay in bed, unable to sleep, feeling like my lungs were not getting enough air. The laboratory called me to deliver my COVID-19 test results, I was positive. My first concern was my family, I had been living with them while I was working shifts at the airport. We took precautions, I did not want them to get infected. My symptoms varied for about two weeks, I eventually felt fine. However, I was not back to normal. It took about a 6 weeks for me to feel fully recovered. I only recently tested negative, I tested positive five times after being asymptomatic. As a healthcare worker, I must test negative twice before going back to work. Within that time frame, I had to catch up on school as the semester was ending. That was one of the most challenging semesters I ever had to experience. This situation has been very hard on everyone, I am one amongst many who it has impacted. My parents lost their jobs until the fall semester, since they work at a university. That is, if we do return to physical classes. I am returning to work soon, after being out for 8 weeks. While it has been a hard time to endure, it has made me appreciate life a lot more. I am very grateful for my health, I can go on runs again and feel my lungs fill up with air. My mother did contract the virus as well, but she has recovered. I am thankful that my family is well, and that we can continue to push on through this together. I know that we are very lucky, some people do not have similar outcomes. I felt hopeless at times, and at fear for mine and my family’s health. I plan on donating my plasma and pick up shifts at my company’s COVID-19 testing center when I am cleared to go back. It is important to keep doing good, that is how we will all get through this.

About This Story

  • Project: COVID-19
  • Date submitted: May 20, 2020
  • Emotional tone: Strongly positive
  • Who should know about this? Everyone, Friends and family, Government, Leaders who make decisions, and My community

About the Storyteller

  • Community: Jupiter
  • Age: 18-30
  • Gender: Male
  • Concerns: Health of my friends and/or family, Health of the community, My health, Paying the bills, and Safety of those who can't care for themselves

How the Storyteller Interpreted Their Story

Note: Responses which fell closer to the middle (between two or three options) are shown as two dashes.
  • My story shows we need to: NA
  • Who my story is about: Myself
  • Why people acted the way they did: They have strong beliefs
  • How people were treated: NA
  • In my story, there are: NA
  • In my story: I am stressed out
  • My story shows: I have no control
  • My story teaches us that: The community is resilient
  • My story teaches us that: The community is volatile
  • My story is about: Hope