Living with Covid-19: WTAJ talks on the phone with coronavirus patient

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COALPORT, CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)–Wednesday, WTAJ spoke on the phone with a patient who tested positive for Covid-19.

25-year-old Patrick Hamilton is one of the first confirmed coronavirus patients in Clearfield County. He’s currently home self-quarantining in Coalport and says almost all of his symptoms are now gone, and that they didn’t last very long.

“For me it started as a dry, hacking cough… then it turned into progressive aches… then chills and fevers,” Hamilton said.

He works as a travel nurse, and last week was at the Reading Hospital in Berks County, a county that has 131 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Wednesday.

During a shift at the hospital last week Hamilton said he didn’t feel any symptoms until they hit him “all-at-once”.

“I went to work and was fine for three-quarters of the night, and then during the last two hours developed a fever and then all of a sudden felt poorly,” he said.

Hamilton tested positive for Covid-19 last Friday.

“I was sick for about 2 days… I feel great now. Since day three. I haven’t had any fevers, the only symptom that’s lingered is I can’t taste or smell anything,” he said.

Still, he says he can’t shake his remorse.

“I felt bad because I did expose a pile of people. That was taken care of by the hospital… but you don’t feel good about it. You never want to expose people… but I didn’t even know that I was sick,” he said.

“This highlights the idea that people that have Covid-19 who have no symptoms could be infecting people around them who will not be as lucky as they,” said Dr. Russell P. Miller of Miller Family Medicine in Patton, PA.

Hamilton acknowledged to WTAJ that he’s fortunate to have mild symptoms of the virus, believing his age and overall health could be factors in his speedy recovery.

If Hamilton doesn’t show any Covid-19 symptoms for a week, he could return to work without being tested again for the virus. This is allowed under a PA Department of Health policy that applies to all healthcare workers.

“They’re allowed to return to work with precautions of course… they’re to wear their safety masks, and they’re not to be caring for immunocompromised patients,” Dr. Miller said.

He added: “I’ve not seen the rationale for that, other than getting people back to work in essential positions in healthcare.”

The PA Department of Health’s policy states that they feel their policy is rational because there is little risk of a a patient getting secondary infection, and that if health employees have the proper protection, they will keep everyone safe.

Below is their full policy for Healtcare providers.

For Healthcare Providers Diagnosed with COVID-19, they must be excluded from work until:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications AND improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); AND,
  • At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

After returning to work, Health Care Providers should:

  • Wear a facemask at all times while in the healthcare facility until all symptoms are completely resolved or until 14 days after illness onset, whichever is longer
  • Be restricted from contact with severely immunocompromised patients (e.g., transplant, hematologyoncology) until 14 days after illness onset.
  • Adhere to hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette in CDC’s interim infection control guidance (e.g., cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, dispose of tissues in waste receptacles).
  • Self-monitor for symptoms, and seek re-evaluation from occupational health/primary care provider and do not work if respiratory symptoms recur or worsen.

More info on Hamilton’s case

Hamilton told WTAJ he believes he got Covid-19 from a patient at the Reading Hospital. However, because his permanent residence is listed in Clearfield County, that is where PA lists his case.

This is an example of how someone could contract Covid-19 in one county and then be listed as a confirmed case in another county. Likewise, someone could be self-quarantining in one county/state but (depending on where they list their permanent address) could be counted as a case in another county/state.

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