Dr. Joseph Fair believes he contracted COVID-19 during a recent flight to New Orleans despite taking recommended precautions

By Ashley Boucher
May 13, 2020 11:36 PM
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Dr. Joseph Fair
Dr. Joseph Fair
| Credit: twitter

A prominent virologist and NBC News contributor has tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is opening up about his diagnosis from the hospital.

Dr. Joseph Fair, who spent years working in Africa studying deadly viruses like Ebola, shared the news of his own infection on Twitter Wednesday.

"My friends wondering where I’ve been: I came down with #COVID19 & am hospitalized," he wrote, sharing a photo from his hospital bed. "I’m on the other end of it, but not out of the woods yet."

Fair, 42, then urged the public to continue to follow social distancing guidelines, sharing that he used as many safeguards as he could to protect himself from COVID-19, but still contracted the virus.

"Please continue to social distance," he concluded his tweet. "I used max precautions, but still managed to contract it. Back as soon as I’m able, friends. #StaySafe."

Speaking on Nightly News with Lester Holt on Wednesday, Fair said that while he has been as careful as possible, exposure can be inevitable.

"Occasionally you're making mistakes, even people like me that do this for a living," he said. "But I can't overtly remember one if I did make it."

Fair said that he likely contracted the contagious respiratory disease during a recent flight to New Orleans, Louisiana — which has been one of the hotspots of COVID-19 in the United States.

"My flights were packed," he said. "I had a mask on, gloves on, wipes routine, but you know obviously you could still get it through your eyes."

The virus spreads "through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks," according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Fair began noticing symptoms, including loss of appetite, nausea, and muscle aches, about three days after he had been on the plane. His lung infection developed about a week later, Fair estimated. "I really couldn't take a full breath," he told Dr. John Torres on the Nightly News.

Fair is now recovering and is receiving oxygen while is lungs heal. Fair was tested more than once when he first arrived at the hospital, but the results came back negative four times, which he says is likely because he waited too long to get tested.

"I know we can get through this as a nation," Fair said, "but really, we have to take it seriously."

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