(Editor’s Note: The following interview came about by happenstance in that the I am personal friends with the patient, and he was willing to speak about the events that led up to his confirmation of being the first positive COVID-19 case in McCulloch County. His identity is intentionally left out of this story to respect his and his family’s privacy. —JS)
By James Stewart – Publisher/ Editor
In a telephone conversation Tuesday afternoon, the resident, who was the first to be locally diagnosed with the coronavirus, said he has no idea how he could have possibly contracted the virus.
The 45-year-old man is employed at a local business that does not have high a volume of regular walk-in foot traffic, but does have interaction with some folks from random places.
“It’s truly a God thing that I even got tested,” he said. “I was feeling nauseous at work on Wednesday which went away. Then on Thursday after work, I helped a friend with some weed eating and my back started hurting. I got home about 9:30 Thursday night and my back was still hurting—like sharp pains, and they didn’t go away.”
About 1:30 a.m. Friday, the pains in his back prompted him to make a trip to the local emergency room where an eventual CT scan revealed the pains in his side were actually being caused by kidney stones.
“I had a 101º fever when I got there, which was likely due to the kidney stones, but because the CT also showed that I had pneumonia, they tested for COVID-19, and those results came back this morning and said I was positive.
“My fiance and my stepdaughters and I are all locked up at home and not going anywhere. I am just fearful that I may have unknowingly passed this on to someone else, and that is the last thing I want to happen.
“I didn’t ask for this, and I certainly hope people understand that I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t even been out of town in a month or more. But the good thing is that I’m feeling okay. I’m fever free and breathing fine.”
The state has mandated that persons in close contact with the patient be tested, and state health officials have already begun the testing protocol to ensure anyone who has had close contact with him is contacted and tested.
He is following his doctor’s orders and remaining in quarantine until permitted otherwise by local health officials.
“This is the exact type of case that could have easily slipped by,” said Tim Jones, administrator of the local hospital. “Dr. Blackburn and the good man upstairs held us find this case. Something just didn’t seem right to the doctor, and thankfully the CT for the back pain was big enough that it showed the pneumonia in the lungs so he ordered the COVID-19 test.
“This very easily could have been passed over and without negligence. The patient wasn’t complaining of COVID symptoms, and from there our medical staff in Drs. Vickers and Bell jumped on the collateral contacts immediately as well so hopefully this will be mitigated with minimal exposure to the community.”