WOODBURY, Minn. — At her sickest with coronavirus, all Sarah Moore could do was crawl into a cold shower and cry because she couldn’t get her fever down.
She rested in bed, wracked by body aches and too weak to even turn on the TV.
“I thought I was going to die sometimes,” said Moore, of Woodbury.
Moore, who works at a St. Paul hospital, became an operating room nurse to help others. But since she’s had to be away from work, she’s trying to help in a different way: getting the word out that even young, healthy people can become very sick.
“I want people to know this is really serious and people need to take social distancing seriously,” Moore, 35, said Tuesday, March 31. “We need to stop the spread of this. I did everything right and I still got it.”
The Minnesota Department of Health lab has prioritized testing for health care workers. Of the state’s 629 confirmed cases, more than a quarter are medical workers, though only a handful have become infected on the job, state officials said Tuesday.
Moore said she has no idea how she got COVID-19 — she had no known exposure to anyone at work or outside of it. She wasn’t notified that anyone she was in contact with had the virus, and she told the Minnesota Department of Health about the people she had been in contact with.
‘Hit me like a ton of bricks’
It was on March 18 that Moore noticed she had a very mild cough and scratchy throat.
“I didn’t even feel sick,” she said. “I chalked it up to just an irritation or maybe even allergies.” It never crossed her mind she could have COVID-19.
Moore checked with her work (she asked that the name of the hospital not be used) and was told to report to work the next day. She felt fine on March 19, which was the last time she worked, and the day that followed.
On March 21, Moore noticed she had lost her sense of taste and smell. Medical experts say that may be a sign of coronavirus.
Then, on March 22, Moore — who detailed the experience on Facebook — wrote: “Hit me like a ton of bricks. Fever, chills, body aches, headache, loss of smell and taste, cough and sore throat.”
Even with taking Tylenol round-the-clock, Moore said she couldn’t get her fever under 100 degrees until Sunday. It reached 102.2 at one point.
She’s had a cough, but what was worse was the tightness in her lungs “and not being able to get a deep breath in and it being painful to breath,” Moore said.
Moore isolated herself away from her husband and three children, who are 3, 5 and 12. No one in her family has showed symptoms of being sick.
Her husband cooked, but Moore said she couldn’t eat more than a small amount of rice.
And her family worried — her 5-year-old cried when she found out her mother had tested positive for COVID-19. “But they see me getting better and I think that eases their minds a little bit,” she said.
Getting the word out on Facebook
Moore was feeling slightly better Friday, but on Saturday she felt she “took two steps back,” she wrote.
On Tuesday, she reached her goal of being able to cross the street to get mail from the mailbox.
“It feels good, but now I’m tired,” she said.
Moore has chronicled her journey in a Facebook post that, as of Tuesday afternoon, had been shared 18,000 times since Friday.
She initially wrote the post because a co-worker told her that her colleagues would be wondering where she was. Some people asked if she would make the post public, telling her, “We feel like your story is important, that people aren’t taking this seriously.”
All the responses have been supportive, Moore said, and an overwhelming number of people have sent her messages on Facebook.
“People are scared, people are worried and they’re reaching out to me for advice,” she said. “This is way bigger than I ever expected it to be, but … since I can’t be at work now and helping people, I can help people this way.”