From zero signs to deadly problems, Kitsap group members share their experiences with COVID-19



Shannon George didn’t even know she had it at first. Kim Silke couldn’t get off the bed for days; her husband, in the meantime, didn’t present any signs. Joseph Saromines spent greater than three weeks within the hospital. 

All of them had COVID-19. They only didn’t have it the identical means. 

For individuals who’ve gotten contaminated, the novel coronavirus has manifested in a variety of experiences. Some say it is felt like little greater than a head chilly whereas others have problems that flip deadly.  

Tales from Kitsap County underscore how the extremely contagious coronavirus might be completely unpredictable for many who get it. 

For the reason that pandemic began in March, Kitsap County has seen greater than 800 confirmed circumstances, with a disproportionate influence felt by folks of colour. Every case represents way over an information level for many who’ve contracted the virus and the individuals who know them. 

In interviews with the Kitsap Solar, group members shared their private expertise with COVID-19 and the way it feels to have it or to know somebody who does: The nervousness over deciding whether or not to go to the emergency room when you have hassle respiration; the unease about not realizing the place you obtained contaminated and the concern about unwittingly spreading it to others; the deep ache of shedding a cherished one. 

Silke, 53, of Port Orchard, got here down with the virus after she and her husband visited their daughter and son-in-law’s place in Arizona in mid-April. Whereas three of the 4 of them examined optimistic for the virus —Silke, her husband and their son-in-law — her daughter’s check got here again adverse. 

For Silke, the virus got here on slowly. She says it felt like coming down with a chilly to start out. However then a couple of days in, she started having problem respiration and needed to go to the emergency room. 

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“So I had a little bit little bit of a meltdown and thought for certain I used to be dying,” mentioned Silke, who was involved after seeing the studies about folks connected on ventilators. “That was the nerve-wracking a part of realizing that I had the identical virus and it might activate me in a short time.”

Docs ended up giving her an inhaler, which helped her respiration. Even nonetheless, she felt extraordinarily fatigued. For a day or two, she misplaced her sense of style and odor.  “I simply slept. There have been a pair days I by no means obtained off the bed,” she mentioned. 

On the identical time, Silke’s husband, who additionally examined optimistic for the virus, didn’t present any signs. “This entire time my husband has it and is totally regular,” she mentioned. “Not even a clue that he would have it.”

‘I might have by no means identified’

Danny Fulton awakened in mid-July with a scratchy throat and a small cough. At first, he thought it was simply allergic reactions. 

After Fulton’s work despatched him dwelling, the 32-year-old Bremerton resident obtained examined and the following day the outcomes got here again optimistic. 

“Initially it was tremendous and nothing was occurring after which bam, a wave of fever got here on,” mentioned Fulton, explaining how every day round midday “one other wave” of fever would hit and stop to relent. “I believe the bottom it ever obtained right down to was possibly 100 levels.”

When his fever hit 103 levels, Fulton went into the emergency room, the place he was hooked as much as an IV for fluids and given antibiotics for pneumonia. 

Fulton was again to full power two weeks later. He’s simply grateful that he’s in fairly good bodily well being. 

Shannon George doesn’t know the way she picked up the coronavirus. Earlier than she was examined in late July, George mentioned her signs have been so minor she didn’t even suppose she had COVID-19.  

“I type of felt like I had actually dangerous allergic reactions virtually to the purpose the place it felt like I might have sinus an infection approaching,” mentioned George, 40, of Suquamish. “I might have by no means identified that that is what that is.” 

The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention estimate that about half of transmission happens earlier than folks expertise signs. About 40% of people who find themselves contaminated could not even present signs, in keeping with the CDC’s finest estimates. Others are sick for weeks on finish and nonetheless really feel the influence months later. 

George says she began feeling extra signs earlier than her check even got here again optimistic. Some days, she felt crummy, with a fever that had spiked and rescinded. Different days, she felt barely higher with a slight headache and sinus congestion. Ultimately, she misplaced her sense of style and odor. However, she mentioned, it was “nothing extreme sufficient to make me fear about it.”

George’s case is why well being officers have emphasised the necessity for folks to contact their physician and get examined for COVID-19, even when they solely have minor signs, and to remain dwelling when sick. 

Kitsap well being officers have additionally urged folks to observe the state’s security tips, like working towards social distancing, avoiding gatherings of greater than 5 folks, and carrying a face masks in public to guard others. These are measures that well being specialists say are the nation’s major protection in opposition to the virus till there’s a vaccine. 

Although George says she wasn’t too involved about her personal well being, she has nervous about who she could have unfold the virus to. “It terrifies me to know that I might have put my family members in danger,” she mentioned. Fortunately, her household and mates haven’t examined optimistic. 

Whereas she not has the virus, George says she’s persevering with to be cautious about following the state’s well being tips: She tries to remain largely at dwelling. She at all times wears a masks. And he or she stays away from bigger gatherings. 

“I’m being extra aware. I’m being extra cautious,” she mentioned. “There’s no means I’m going to place anyone else in danger. That was my greatest concern.”

‘That is taking lives and that is painful’

Whereas many have felt solely minor signs of COVID-19, some folks have skilled extra extreme circumstances.

In Kitsap County, 59 folks have been hospitalized from COVID-19 to this point, together with 4 folks final week. For a lot of, a hospital keep has been something however straightforward. 

Laurel Saromines mentioned that was the case for her 81-year-old husband, Joseph, who spent 24 days at an Oregon hospital. (As a result of the couple lately moved to Bremerton from West Seattle, Joseph’s case just isn’t included in Kitsap’s rely.)

Laurel, 75, mentioned the couple examined optimistic in mid-March after taking place to Oregon for ski trip. Joseph had been preventing what medical doctors thought was a nasty chilly for weeks, which had resulted in pneumonia. It seems, Laurel and Joseph each had COVID-19. 

Within the hospital, Joseph had been transferred to the intensive care unit and placed on a ventilator for 5 days, Laurel mentioned. Even afterward, he relied on oxygen and wanted a feeding tube. “I used to be very involved. However I didn’t spend my time worrying about it. I spent a number of time praying,” Laurel mentioned. 

Associated: From anti-maskers to giant gatherings: Kitsap group navigates divides over state’s COVID-19 guidelines

5 months later, Joseph is getting higher however he nonetheless isn’t again to full well being, Laurel mentioned. He has hassle swallowing and might solely eat small quantities of soppy meals. He nonetheless will get worn out simply and has some respiration points. He’s been again to the hospital twice for excessive dehydration and a blood transfusion. 

Whereas Joseph was extra weak to the sickness due to his outdated age, together with having diabetes, Laurel says her husband was in superb form from serving as a ski teacher, enjoying tennis and {golfing}. “That was actually most likely what allowed him to combat this,” she mentioned. 

Different households haven’t been so lucky. So far, COVID-19 has killed no less than seven folks in Kitsap County, making up a sliver of the greater than 1,755 Washingtonians misplaced throughout the pandemic. 

That included 80-year-old Joanne “Granni Jo” Hunter, a longtime Bremerton resident identified for her caring soul, and 55-year-old Mariano Matias Mendoza, remembered as a pacesetter in Bremerton’s Guatemalan group

Sarah Milne, 29, of Bremerton, additionally is aware of what it’s prefer to lose somebody to COVID-19. Her nice aunt Rosita Fothergill died from the virus final month at a Seattle hospital. She was 82.

Milne, who has not examined optimistic for COVID-19, says her nice aunt spent a number of weeks on a ventilator after she couldn’t breathe, stroll and even stand due to the virus. The ordeal was much more troublesome as a result of family members couldn’t be alongside the household’s matriarch within the hospital. The tight-knit household remains to be unable to collect collectively to mourn Rosita’s demise. 

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“Nobody might say bye to her,” Milne mentioned. “It pains my coronary heart as a result of we couldn’t do something for her for 4 weeks. We might go see her. We could not embrace her…We simply wished her to know that we cherished her.”

Remembering her nice aunt’s infectious chuckle, rigorous work ethic and sort character, Milne mentioned her household has “paid the last word worth” throughout a pandemic the place some folks refuse to put on a masks. “Would not you do something you may to guard the folks you like? To guard your individual? And to guard everybody?” she requested. 

Milne says she hopes folks will take the efforts crucial to assist curb the virus’ unfold, particularly as folks proceed to die. 

“You won’t know anyone that’s sick,” she mentioned. “You won’t know anyone that has handed. However that is taking lives and that is painful.”

Austen Macalus is the Kitsap Solar’s social companies reporter — protecting well being care, homelessness and the way applications are serving these in want. He might be reached at or 360-536-6423. 

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