‘This is not the flu’: 35-year-old Spokane mother explains battle with COVID-19

SPOKANE, Wash.– Nearly half of Spokane County’s 2,300-plus COVID-19 cases to this point come from people 20-39 years old.

Many people see that and say, ‘they’re likely not symptomatic, so that’s OK.’

But, a 35-year-old Spokane mother is living proof that this virus can send anyone to the hospital.

Josephine Keefe did everything right; she wore a face mask in public and socially distanced.

But, now she’s 11 days into her recovery from COVID-19, and it has been a battle for her and her family.

“I’m a healthy 35-year-old, and I’ve never felt sicker,” Keefe said.

She woke up 11 days ago feeling like she had a routine cold, but it didn’t take long for her to realize it was much worse than that.

She decided to get tested, but those results would end up taking 10 days to come back because of a local COVID-19 testing backlog.

Spokane health officials said that’s becoming the norm for tests in the state and nationwide, as results are taking just as long as the length you are supposed to quarantine for when sick.

While waiting for those results, Keefe’s symptoms worsened and she’d end up going to the hospital twice in the last 11 days.

But, she was able to get a rapid-test during one of those visits which confirmed she had COVID-19.

Her case is considered mild, but if you ask her, the illness feels much worse than that.

“This is on an entirely different league than the flu,” Keefe said. “Coronavirus is the sickest I’ve ever felt in my life… this is the weakest I’ve felt in my entire life.”

She has experienced just about every symptom in the book, ranging from a consistent fever to raging 24-hour long headaches.

Her fever has sat around 103 degrees while other symptoms continue to pop up.

“An incredibly intense headache that no amount of medicine would fix,” Keefe said.

She believes she caught the virus from an asymptomatic friend in their 20s as gatherings increased under Phase 2.

But, now as she isolates from others, her two young kids are still exposed to the virus in their home.

Spokane health officials have said families are supposed to have help for situations like these, so fewer family members get sick.

But with cases surging so much in the county, contact tracers are heavily jammed and delayed in case investigations.

That’s why Keefe hasn’t heard from one 11 days into her recovery. Now, her kids are feeling sick too.

But to make matters even tougher on the family, Keefe’s 72-year-old father is the one taking care of the three of them, even though this virus is even riskier for older populations.

“Symptoms come on very quickly, and it leaves you very little time to prepare as a household for it,” Keefe said.

She said they’re doing everything they can to keep each other safe, and her kids are maintaining good energy despite each carrying fevers.

Keefe’s father sent us a statement, which led with a question from his grand kids, stating “Is mommy going to die, Grandpa?”

Thankfully, Keefe said she is slowly improving and is hoping to shed the virus in a few days. She’s also hoping to get the kids tested as soon as she’s safe to leave quarantine.

She’s hoping her message can help others want to avoid the virus, and she asks people to wear a mask in public so fewer families have to go through this.

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