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A Brief But Spectacular take on surviving COVID-19

California therapist Kat Zwick tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-March, about a week after returning from a New York City conference. Her symptoms worsened to an “almost unbearable” level of severity as she isolated in her bedroom. Now recovering, Zwick hopes her story will encourage others to take the illness seriously and stay home. This is her Brief But Spectacular take on surviving COVID-19.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Tonight we hear from Kat Zwick, who tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

    She spent 20 days quarantined in her bedroom in Northern California.

    And she spoke to our Brief But Spectacular team then about the experience.

  • Katherine “Kat” Zwick:

    So, I'm sitting in my car and I get a call actually from urgent care. And they tell me that I have tested positive for COVID.

    And I don't know how to properly explain or describe the — both the shock and kind of the immediate grief, I think, that I felt. Like — and almost like a, this cannot be.

    It's been 10 days since I tested positive. I have been in my bedroom now for 14 days. I run a therapy clinic in Santa Cruz and in Oakland. On March 7, I was in New York City finishing up a conference for the American Group Psychotherapy Association and felt like mildly sick.

    And then it was on Monday the 9th that I was back home, and I was getting hit now with sort of like waves of fatigue. So, I contacted my primary care doc. And they asked me, have you had any exposure to COVID?

    I was like, I think there might have been someone at my conference that left early, but I don't — it had something to do with COVID, but I don't really know what.

    And my doctor said, well, you need to go to urgent care and be triaged in your car. You actually can't come in.

    A guy from the conference e-mailed the listserv of all the attendees and said he indeed had tested positive for COVID. And I was reading through his schedule, and I realized that he and I both attended the dance. I had been on that dance floor, which was pretty small, for at least three hours.

    And so then I was like, oh, my gosh, I have been directly exposed. And then three more people e-mailed and said they also had tested positive that same day, and they also shared their schedules. And I was at two events with all of them.

    And urgent care said, you need to come on down, and we probably need to get you tested. It was that afternoon, on the 17th, that I got way sicker. It was just like a severe amount of nausea and dizziness, and I just had to sleep.

    My fever went up to 101.6. And I was the most physically uncomfortable I have ever been in my life. It was almost unbearable. Like, I could not stand up, or I would fall over. I wanted to just, like, see my husband's face, and I couldn't walk. And so I was crawling on the floor out of the bedroom just to, like, see him in the kitchen.

    That level of severity lasted about three days. During the worst of it last week, I felt extremely terrified. There were definitely some moments when I really thought I might not make it.

    My husband is calling me, like, a COVID activist, because I do — the thing I feel most passionate about is people taking this more seriously and staying in their houses.

    Right now, any symptom that you have could be COVID, and not to freak out or panic about that, because panic doesn't help your immune system, but to just stay inside.

    The amount of support that I have received, I mean, just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. The emotion that comes up is just overwhelming gratitude and recognizing that — this might sound strange coming from a therapist, but recognizing that I matter more to people than maybe I usually think that I do.

    When you find out that you matter, and you didn't necessarily conceive of yourself that way, I think that does alter, you know, how you show up in the world.

    My name is Kat Zwick, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on surviving COVID-19.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Kat, thank you so much for sharing.

    Kat is no longer in isolation. And while her health has improved, she is still recovering from the virus.

    Millions of viewers watched her video online. And she's responded to many of your questions on our Facebook page.

    And you can find all our Brief But Spectacular segments at PBS.org/NewsHour/Brief.

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