Rachel Halverson-Burgess, age 50, is a Hartsel resident who shares her experience with symptom discovery, testing, quarantine, contact tracing, getting supplies and recovery from a bout with COVID-19.
“I was at work and I had a headache and some joint pain, so I took some Tylenol,” Halverson-Burgess said. “I didn’t have any fever, or cough.”
“Also, some people at work had a cold going around. I didn’t think I had COVID.”
Then, in addition to joint pain and a headache, Halverson-Burgess had intestinal disruption and thought maybe it was due to something she ate.
Her mild symptoms began on a Tuesday and by Sunday she lost her sense of taste and smell. So, that Monday Halverson-Burgess, her 14 year old home schooled son and husband all got tested in Frisco.
Within 24 hours, she got a telephone call letting her know she tested positive for COVID-19. Her son, who had a sore throat, headache and body aches for a couple days, also tested positive and her husband tested positive but has absolutely no symptoms.
Halverson-Burgess said she was tested in the summer and the nasal swab was very long. She tested negative this summer. This time, the actual nasal swab test was easier to take.
“A lot of people are afraid of the test, but this time it was just like a Q-tip swab,” said Halverson-Burgess.
After her positive test notification, Halverson-Burgess notified the few people with whom she has been in contact.
“I feel horrible having exposed anyone to COVID,” said Halverson-Burgess.
The Park County Health Department also reached out to get information for their contact tracing procedures.
A few more days into her illness, Halverson-Burgess began to feel tightness in her chest, shortness of breath, and a feeling of needles poking her lungs. She went to St. Anthony’s Hospital Emergency Room in Frisco. The waiting room is now divided and has a special section for COVID and possible COVID patients.
The hospital administered oxygen to Halverson-Burgess, but her levels were not significant enough to be sent home with oxygen. Her oxygen levels are normally 95 percent when she is tested at the Alma health fairs. However, with COVID, her oxygen levels fell below 87 percent, which, according to Halverson-Burgess, is a warning sign.
Special High altitude and mountain challenges
It can take planning just to get regular supplies: groceries, snow tires and scotch tape. A medical challenge can create a greater need for planning.
Halverson-Burgess, based on her recent experience, recommends the following:
Get an oximeter in order to check oxygen levels.
Have a plan of how to get to a hospital.
Know where to get tested.
Be aware that you might have COVID-19, even if you don’t have a fever, shortness of breath and congestion.
Know where to get medical equipment, such as oxygen, if necessary.
Check on neighbors, especially in this county, many people have intermittent internet and telephone service and some have none.
Bring food and supplies to neighbors who need.
Halverson-Burgess received a beautiful care package from members of the community, with special healing treats.
Some Resources and information
There is testing in Fairplay on Tuesdays by appointment only. The Frisco testing center is on Colorado Highway 9 and Schoolhouse Road. The telephone is 970-668-5584. The test is free and available to anyone with concerns.
Per Halverson-Burgess, the experts recommend testing seven days after exposure and people who have tested positive are considered contagious until ten days after the symptoms begin.