Daniel Goldwyn is an athletic 25-year-old, a recent transplant to New Orleans working as an engineer.
He was at work when he first started having the classic early symptoms of the coronavirus.
“A couple weeks ago on a Friday I was at work and I noticed that I was starting to cough,” he said. “Then that weekend, over the next two days I started to develop a fever, I was coughing more and more. There was a little bit of headache. Pressure in my skull.”
Unable to get tested due to the lack of local testing sites and strict screening criteria, Goldwyn was told over the phone that he was as a presumed case. When he began logging more classic symptoms – loss of taste and smell, body aches, chills, lethargy – he received a telemedicine diagnosis as a COVID-19 case.
Goldwyn was told he had to stay quarantined at home for two weeks, a challenging scenario given that he lives alone. He has no roommates and his family lives in California.
His usual routine of traveling for work, going to the gym, practicing martial arts and hitting the local club scene was replaced by worries about whether he had enough food stocked to weather his isolation.
That was two weeks ago. Since then, Goldwyn watched the number of local cases soar, placing the per capita infection rate in New Orleans at the top of all U.S. cities Epidemiologists have theorized that the massive crowds during Mardi Gras season played a role. Goldwyn said he enjoyed a healthy dose of the revelry.
“The fact that the virus was spreading so quickly here and that I knew I had it was definitely a pretty alarming wake-up call,” he said. “Yeah, so it was definitely scary.”
Then the grim reality began playing out in the news: hospitals filling up, patients on respirators, a mounting death toll. All of it was an alarming wake-up call for Goldwyn.
“I started paying a lot more attention to my own symptoms, especially my respiratory system,” he said.
What was initially portrayed as a virus that preyed on the elderly and people with underlying health problems gradually began hitting other segments of the population. Goldwyn, fit and active, realized that Covid-19 does not respect any youthful ideas of invincibility or even immunity.
“It was a kick in the chest. Whatever that balloon was popped immediately,” he said. “It definitely was a shock.”
Since Daniel came out of the fog and fever last week, he’s been able to work from home. His high temperatures have subsided, his cough is easing, but he's still dealing with a loss of taste and smell.
He said his biggest affliction now is the mounting loneliness.
“I miss basic face-to-face human contact,” he said. “The idea of going out and being able to give someone a fist bump or a hug or have a conversation. Just to be able to sit on the couch and watch TV with another person. I didn't realize before how much I was taking all that for granted and how important that is to just feel sane.”
Even in isolation, Goldwyn has found some positives.
“Getting back to work was helpful,” he said. “I've spent a lot of time on the phone. Facetime with friends and family, way more than I normally would. I got notice from the library that I don’t have return all my books, so I might actually get a chance to read them. And I’m trying to learn German right now which is just a weird spontaneous thing.”
One thing Daniel has not lost is his sense of humor.
“I also have discovered how many days in a row I can go without wearing pants. Who knew?”