Woman Who Tested Positive for Coronavirus But Had Mild Symptoms Says 'Don't Panic' amid Outbreak
Elizabeth Schneider did not have shortness or breath or a cough, but tested positive
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes ,PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
A Seattle woman who was infected with coronavirus but made it through with mild symptoms is using her platform to remind frightened Americans to stay vigilant, but to remain calm amid the panic.
Elizabeth Schneider, 37, told Agence France-Presse that she hoped her tale of a relatively easy recovery would “give people a little bit of hope” as coronavirus continues to spread worldwide.
Schneider, who works as a marketing manager at a biotechnology company, attended a party on Feb. 22, and started experiencing flu-like symptoms three days later.
She told the agency she woke up feeling tired, but that it was nothing out of the ordinary, as she’d had a busy weekend.
Within hours, though, she’d developed a headache, fever and body aches, and by that night, had a 103 degree fever.
“At that point, I started to shiver uncontrollably, and I was getting the chills and getting tingling in my extremities, so that was a little concerning,” she said.
RELATED VIDEO: ‘Shark Tank’ Judge Daymond John Predicts a Baby Boom After Coronavirus
Schneider said she took over-the-counter flu medicine, and that her fever started going down over the next few days. Coronavirus was on her mind, but she dismissed the notion that she might possibly have it, as she did not have a cough or shortness or breath, which two common symptoms of the virus.
A visit to the doctor left her with advice to rest and drink lots of fluids — but as the days dragged on, Schneider learned that other people who had been at the same party in late February were feeling the same way she was.
It later turned out that that party also infected at least five other people, according to AFP.
Meanwhile, Schneider knew she lacked the symptoms necessary to warrant a coronavirus test, so she enrolled in a research program called the Seattle Flu Study, which gave her a nasal swab kit.
On March 7, she learned she’d tested positive for COVID-19 — though the diagnosis didn’t exactly disappoint her.
“I was a little bit pleasantly surprised, because I thought it was a little bit cool… Granted, I probably would not have felt that way if I was severely ill,” said Schneider, who has a PhD in bioengineering. “But from a scientific curiosity perspective, I thought it was very interesting. And also the fact that I finally got confirmation that that’s what I had.”
As her symptoms subsided, Schneider isolated herself at home for seven days, though she’s since been feeling better and is able to run errands.
With the worst behind her, Schneider wants her story to be a source of comfort to those spooked by the idea of catching the virus.
“The message is don’t panic. If you think that you have it, you probably do; you should probably get tested,” she told AFP. “If your symptoms aren’t life-threatening, simply stay at home, medicate with over-the-counter medicines, drink lots of water, get a lot of rest and check out the shows you want to binge-watch.”
She does, however, acknowledge that it’s still something to be taken seriously, especially considering the World Health Organization warnings that older people and people with pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.
“Obviously, it’s not something to be completely nonchalant about, because there are a lot of people who are elderly or have underlying health conditions,” Schneider told AFP. “That means that we need to be extra vigilant about staying home, isolating ourselves from others.”
Seattle and Washington state have been a coronavirus hotbed in the United States, and the state’s 420 confirmed cases and 31 deaths are the most in the country, according to The New York Times. There are at least 1,663 confirmed cases in the U.S. as of Friday morning.
To prevent the spread, the Centers for Disease Control advises washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or using hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
It also advises distancing yourself from other people, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick.