What’s it like to have coronavirus? These Daytonians wonder if they know

“I was honestly generally concerned I was not getting enough oxygen in my blood. It was getting harder and harder to breathe,” Dayton woman said.

Robb Sloan says the swab hurt as much going into his nasal cavity as it did coming out.

“They go back pretty far. That’s where the painful starts,” the downtown Dayton resident said of getting a coronavirus test Monday at a testing center set up in the University of Dayton Arena parking lot. “But I’m glad I got one.”

An international flight attendant for a major airline with more than 24 years’ experience, Sloan began to suspect he had coronavirus about two weeks ago.

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Before becoming ill, he made trips to England, but doesn’t know how he was exposed. “It could have been at the hotel. It could be from another crew member. It could have been at the bar during my layover,” he said. “I have lot of friends who are flying, and they are afraid.”

Sloan is among the Dayton-area residents who think they have, or have had, the virus.

He was still awaiting results Thursday, but was feeling better than he did during the early days of his illness.

(****Update (10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 4, 2020) : After days of uncertainty, Robb Sloan’s coronavirus test results came back negative.**** )

Some who think they might have the virus have sought testing, while others are following advice from the governor and health officials to self-quarantine as if they have the virus, since there’s a limited amount of tests in the nation.

"Don't come to the ED (emergency department) unless you have significant, or severe symptoms. We cannot do testing. There is no active treatment. Please stay away because you actually will be contaminating other people, or you could be infected yourself if you come to the ED or hospital unnecessarily," Dr. Randy Marriott, Premier Health's EMS Center of Excellence medical director, said recently on an episode of the "What Had Happened Was" podcast.

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The federal Centers for Disease Control advises people who think they have symptoms of COVID-19 to try calling their state or local health department or a medical provider.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

"While supplies of these tests are increasing, it may still be difficult to find a place to get tested," the agency's website says. 

Sloan said he was initially refused the coronavirus test after he tested positive for the flu, but his symptoms worsened to include a headache, body ache heaviness on his chest, a mid-grade fever and loss of taste and sense of smell.

His fears are intensified because he knows personally how deadly coronavirus can be — his colleague  Paul Frishkorn, a longtime union representative and Philadelphia-based flight attendant for American Airlines, recently died of the virus.

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ON HER OWN

Dayton resident Ashlee Haselby received a doctor's order to receive a coronavirus test, but says she was told she did not qualify for one.

After getting sick with respiratory issues and extreme fatigue, the resident of Dayton’s Huffman neighborhood says she called several urgent care offices before finally finding one open on March 23. From there, she went directly to the test center in the UD parking lot, where she was asked if she was a health care worker or had an underlying condition. When Haselby said no to both, she said she was told she couldn’t have the test.

“I was really surprised,” Haselby said. “I was really sick, but I had no other choice but to leave.”

Haselby has been off work since coming down with symptoms and figured she was on her own unless her condition worsened.

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“I could feel that I could have a lot of fluid. There were two times that I debated if I need a medic to come over and test my (blood oxygen levels),” she said. “I was honestly generally concerned I was not getting enough oxygen in my blood. It was getting harder and harder to breathe.”

The 34-year-old, who skates as Malice in the Gem City Roller Derby league, said she is feeling better now, although she is still not at 100 percent.

Despite her experience, she doesn’t see herself as a victim. “I don’t think it was any person’s fault or incompetence. It was way more than they could handle,” she said. “Finally, I realized the system is extremely overwhelmed.”

Haselby admitted that she was not taking the crisis as seriously as she should have until she became sick. Now she knows, and wonders how many people aren’t being tested who should be.

“The scariest thing is that it is out there way more than it is being reported,” she said.

SICK AFTER A TRIP TO NEW YORK 

Oregon District resident Amy Deal said she and her husband, Kevin, never sought medical treatment, but assume they had the coronavirus after taking a trip to New York to visit their daughter Grace, who works in a gallery in the city and attends college.

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“We road the subway,” Amy Deal said of the trip on March 5-9. “We ate out. We went to large art fairs.”

The artist said she and her husband, who works in sales from home, both got sick with what she describes as fevers and relatively minor symptoms shortly after getting back to Dayton.

Credit: Chris Glass

Credit: Chris Glass

“It came on as a headache and then major body aches,” Deal said. “You just felt beat up and fatigue, major fatigue.”

She said he husband lost the sense of smell and she developed stomach issues and had a sore throat.

The couple have limited their contact with other people since, staying mostly in their home, aside from the evening walks they recently added.

“I just feel like we have to do what is best for everyone else and stay away,” Amy Deal said. “We live for our evening walks.”

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