Barbara Barry posed by a blossoming cherry blossom and lake.

Wearing sunglasses and a gray marbled sweater, she took a picture, smiling for the camera.

Just a week earlier, sick with COVID-19 and isolated in her home, the Frederick woman said she thought she was going to die.

Barry, 67, was diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, on March 23. She was likely one of the first eight cases in Frederick County and among the four cases announced by the Frederick County Health Department on March 25.

Barry said her symptoms started with gastrointestinal problems. Then came the lethargy. She was exhausted, she said.

“And I thought, maybe I just have a little bug,” Barry said.

Her daughters — Barry has three daughters and a son — also felt sick. Barry called her doctor, who decided to test her. Barry got tested in the parking lot of her doctor’s office. She sat in her car while a health care professional stuck a very long swab up both of her nostrils.

It was not until she looked at diagrams later that she realized how far the swab went in her nasal cavity, she said. That was on March 18.

A physician assistant called her five days later, first asking her how she felt. Then Barry learned she had COVID-19.

“And my first feeling was, ‘Oh, my God. Where’s this gonna go?’ Because now I was really starting to feel sick,” Barry said.

Between being tested and learning she had the disease, Barry said her symptoms started to get much worse. She had a sore throat and developed a fever. Her skin felt weird to touch, her knee joints hurt. She tired easily. Coughing hurt, her chest did as well.

She just felt very weak.

She was so lethargic, she said, that she could not get up to make sure she ate or drank. She became dehydrated, although she did not realize it until her daughter, who is a nurse, came over to take care of her.

“I was really lucky because when I was really sick, my daughter is a nurse and she gowned up and masked up and came over,” Barry said. “And she did my vital signs and so forth, and she said, ‘Mom, you’re really dehydrated.’ And she got me on some Gatorade, which was incredibly helpful.”

Barry experienced shortness of breath, in addition to the cough she still has, she said.

“It felt like I had been exercising and couldn’t catch my breath,” Barry said.

She also experienced one of the unique symptoms associated with COVID-19. She lost her sense of smell.

“That was terrible,” she said.

She had hyacinth flowers in the house. She could not smell them. Nor could she smell steaming, hot coffee.

During her time in isolation, her doctor’s office called to check in. As did the health department. She first spoke with Dr. Randall Culpepper, the county’s deputy health officer. Then another person from the department called everyday to check in and see if she needed anything.

“And they were wonderful,” Barry said.

She was alone in isolation.

“I was so sick it didn’t really bother me,” Barry said. “I was happy to be here and not at the hospital.”

Her sense of smell is coming back, she said. And while she has been cleared to leave isolation, she is still cautious. She was not tested again to ensure she had a negative test result, something she would have liked.

She went out to the store to get items she needed since she was isolated in her house for about 19 days. But other than that, she said she is nervous to leave her home. She does not want to get anyone else sick.

That’s been her thought the entire time.

“I hope nobody else gets this,” Barry said. “I felt like I know I’ll get through this because that’s my nature, and I knew that my family members are keeping a close watch on me.”

A family affair

Barry’s boyfriend Jim Quinn was with her the days before she started feeling symptoms, he said. He left knowing something was wrong with her. He chose to self-quarantine since Barry was symptomatic.

He never developed symptoms, he said. He’s staying in his house, even now. He doesn’t want to risk catching it. Barry visited him the other day, he said.

But while she was sick, he said he was concerned. He couldn’t see her and he knew Barry was getting sicker.

“I knew it was rough,” he said. “She could hardly talk.”

He knew there was little that he could do for Barry, but he felt confident that she was in good care from her daughter.

“It’s been an experience to say the least,” he said.

He worries for Barry’s daughter who cared for her while she was sick. She was tested and received a negative test. So did another of Barry’s daughters, although Barry is skeptical since her daughter had the same symptoms.

Barry had also visited another daughter in the days before she got sick. Barry does not know where she contracted the illness, but it is likely that she passed it along to her daughter Katie Downes.

Downes, 34, is pregnant. She lives in Prince George’s County, one of the two counties with more than 500 confirmed cases of the disease. She received her test on March 24, a day after her mother learned she was positive. Downes received her positive results on March 27, she said.

Downes did her test at the Anne Arundel Medical Center since her doctor is in Anne Arundel County, she said.

When she first started getting symptoms, she thought that she was getting a cold, she said. She had a mild cough and some heaviness in her chest. Her job as a mental health therapist requires her to talk often, and she often had to clear her throat.

But then she started to develop more of the symptoms that her mother had. She had congestion, fatigue and headaches. She also lost her sense of smell and taste, which have not come back yet, she said.

The lack of smell and taste is “bizarre,” she said.

When she would sniff something hot, it felt like sniffing regular, cold air, she said. She thinks she might be getting some sensation back. But as someone who is 24-weeks pregnant, it is frustrating to not be able to smell or taste food since her appetite is bigger.

“I’ve been trying to enjoy the foods that I’m eating as if I can remember what they taste like,” Downes said. “And smell like.”

Finding out she was positive for COVID-19 scared Downes, she said. She knew her mother had a rough time and she was not sure what her experience would be like with the disease.

“When I first found out that my mom was actually positive, I kind of broke down a little bit, and gave myself a day and a half and cried because ... I was just scared of what does this mean for me?” Downes said.

She knew from doing some research that it was unlikely that she could transfer the disease to her baby.

“But at the same time, if I’m not OK, he’s not OK,” she said.

She was concerned about developing a fever or pneumonia. She had not taken medication during her pregnancy and she did not want to start taking something because of having COVID-19.

“So I was terrified. At first, I was like, ‘What does this mean?’” she said. “And I don’t want to die and I don’t want to have pneumonia.”

And she worried for her mom. She lives the farthest away of her siblings, and she felt a little helpless. She was very concerned for her mother, she said.

She started isolating after being with her mom because she did not want to potentially spread the disease. Then she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

She continued to telework while sick, never having to take off, she said.

Lessons from COVID-19

The disease affects everyone differently, Downes said. Her advice to others is to eat well, exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If people start noticing symptoms that are worse, then they should not hesitate to go to the hospital. People should trust their instincts.

And people should take their family into consideration and stay home to try and slow the spread of the disease.

“Even if we are overreacting with all of this, I would rather overreact than underreact,” Downes said.

Barry posted on Facebook throughout her time with COVID-19, she said. In her posts, she encouraged people to stay safe and social distance. She misses her grandchildren and family, she wrote.

So does Quinn, who is isolating from his family to keep them safe. But Barry and Quinn both want to keep their families safe and prevent the spread of the disease.

Barry wants people to know COVID-19 is not the flu and that it should be taken seriously. On her first day out, she ran into two people downplaying the disease. She told them off, she said.

Like Downes, Barry said people react differently to the disease. Some get mild cases, others can die from it. And with it being widespread, people never know where they might get it.

Barry does not want anyone else to get sick. Now that she is better, Barry is looking to see how she can help.

She reached out to the National Institutes of Health to volunteer for their clinical trials to test those who have recovered. She heard back Friday.

Now, she hopes that as one of the 20 people who have recovered in Frederick County, she can help expand the understanding of COVID-19.

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter: @HMongilio.

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at hmongilio@newspost.com.

(26) comments

DickD

The need for fast and sanitary deliveries has never been higher with more than 80 million Americans ordered to shelter at home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The surge in deliveries, including more food deliveries as restaurants are closed across the country, has led to the question of whether people can contract COVID-19 from packages.

NBC consumer and investigative correspondent Vicky Nguyen provided some answers from health officials and leading delivery companies on TODAY Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the chances of getting coronavirus from delivered packages is likely very low.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicinelast week found the virus was detectable for up to 24 hours on cardboard compared to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel. Researchers said no COVID-19 cases have been linked to contact with packages.

Infectious disease experts still recommend leaving packages outside for a day if possible.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Saturday that the company is taking increased safety measures to protect employees and the company's 100 million customers from COVID-19 exposure.

"We've implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees and contractors at our sites around the world — everything from increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning to adjusting our practices in fulfillment centers to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines,'' Bezos wrote in an open letter on Amazon's blog.

He also announced the company is hiring 100,000 additional employees, raising wages for hourly workers, ordering millions of protective face masks and offering any employee who tests positive for COVID-19 to have two weeks paid leave.

DickD

From John Hopkins:

* The virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code. (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells.

* Since the virus is not a living organism but a protein molecule, it is not killed, but decays on its own. The disintegration time depends on the temperature, humidity and type of material where it lies.

* The virus is very fragile; the only thing that protects it is a thin outer layer of fat. That is why any soap or detergent is the best remedy, because the foam CUTS the FAT (that is why you have to rub so much: for 20 seconds or more, to make a lot of foam).

By dissolving the fat layer, the protein molecule disperses and breaks down on its own.

* HEAT melts fat; this is why it is so good to use water above 25 degrees Celsius for washing hands, clothes and everything. In addition, hot water makes more foam and that makes it even more useful.

* Alcohol or any mixture with alcohol over 65% DISSOLVES ANY FAT, especially the external lipid layer of the virus.

* Any mix with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaks it down from the inside.

* Oxygenated water helps long after soap, alcohol and chlorine, because peroxide dissolves the virus protein, but you have to use it pure and it hurts your skin.

* NO BACTERICIDE OR ANTIBIOTIC SERVES. The virus is not a living organism like bacteria; antibodies cannot kill what is not alive.

* NEVER shake used or unused clothing, sheets or cloth. While it is glued to a porous surface, it is very inert and disintegrates only

-between 3 hours (fabric and porous),

-4 hours (copper and wood)

-24 hours (cardboard),

- 42 hours (metal) and

-72 hours (plastic).

But if you shake it or use a feather duster, the virus molecules float in the air for up to 3 hours, and can lodge in your nose.

* The virus molecules remain very stable in external cold, or artificial as air conditioners in houses and cars.

They also need moisture to stay stable, and especially darkness. Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm and bright environments will degrade it faster.

* UV LIGHT on any object that may contain it breaks down the virus protein. For example, to disinfect and reuse a mask is perfect Be careful, it also breaks down collagen (which is protein) in the skin.

* The virus CANNOT go through healthy skin.

* Vinegar is NOT useful because it does not break down the protective layer of fat.

* NO SPIRITS, NOR VODKA, serve. The strongest vodka is 40% alcohol, and you need 65%.

* LISTERINE IF IT SERVES! It is 65% alcohol.

* The more confined the space, the more concentration of the virus there can be. The more open or naturally ventilated, the less.

* You have to wash your hands before and after touching mucosa, food, locks, knobs, switches, remote control, cell phone, watches, computers, desks, TV, etc. And when using the bathroom.

* You have to HUMIDIFY HANDS DRY from so much washing them, because the molecules can hide in the micro cracks. The thicker the moisturizer, the better.

* Also keep your NAILS SHORT so that the virus does not hide there.

And please #STAYHOME

gabrielshorn2013

Dick, that isn't from JHU, and was debunked last week. First clue was the statement that the virus is a protein. It isn't. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped single stranded RNA virus.

DickD

I got it from a pharmacist. Are you sure?

gabrielshorn2013

Yep. OP first posted it last week.

Macziulskas

The terrible writing here makes this article problematic. And frightening. What store did she go to without being tested first after she VERIFIABLY tested positive weeks prior? Why couldn't she get delivery for whatever she needed, or have her visiting daughter bring it, given that she knew she'd been positive for the virus and shouldn't leave? Where did this boyfriend live and who did she encounter when seeing him? did she touch apartment doors, elevator buttons? Has HE been out since then? This article puts a name and face on the threat of this illness for us all. I don't wish ill upon her, but I sure wish she'd stayed the hell in place.

mlpogp

Scripps Research said it is actively seeking out recovered COVID-19 patients who are willing to donate their blood to screen for potential antibodies.

sevenstones1000

It would be nice to have an explanation of Frederick testing criteria.

This article leaves me very confused. I think we have a right to know.

Jleftwich

“ How do I get tested? Does the Health Department test people?

If you have symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, please call ahead to your primary healthcare provider. Your provider will decide if you meet the guidelines for testing and give you instructions. If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are mild, you do not need to be tested, but you need to follow the same guidelines - stay home when sick, avoid contact with other people and practice social distancing, cover your cough/sneeze, monitor your symptoms and stay in contact with your healthcare provider if symptoms worsen – to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

The Frederick County Health Department does not test people for COVID-19.“

Source: https://health.frederickcountymd.gov/614/Novel-Coronavirus-COVID-19

sevenstones1000

Did you read the article? She had none of those symptoms and was still tested. That’s what I don’t understand.

Jleftwich

Did YOU read the article?? In the 14th paragraph, it states:

“Barry experienced shortness of breath, in addition to the cough she still has, she said.”

It also goes on to mention how she lost her sense of smell.

sevenstones1000

Apparently that was some time after she was diagnosed.

tonyc51

Hope she gets better, but just curious was "Barbara Barry posed by a blossoming cherry blossom and lake" taken at the cherry blossom festival in DC this year?

awteam2000

“Barbara Barry posed by a blossoming cherry blossom and lake outside her Frederick Home.”(According to the photo under-caption) “after spending much of the last two weeks in bed.”

tonyc51

Thanks, glad she did not get this by disregarding

dancing donna

A family member was tested that had symptoms of COVID-19 in the parking lot of their doctors office. Took 2 weeks to receive the results. No need to test If results are this slow. In that time, the person will be dead or will have healed from it.

jwhamann

This must have been written by a high school intern.

Jleftwich

[huh]

StupidPaywall

As are many FNP articles.[thumbup]

sevenstones1000

I’m confused. Why was she tested? She didn’t have any major symptoms at the time. I thought we weren’t supposed to be tested until there was difficulty breathing.

Lovemesome31bags

I was tested and I didn't have trouble breathing but I was considered high risk due to other health issues. So maybe that is why.

User1

And she went to the store afterwards WITHOUT getting tested to make sure she was cleared. AND visited her boyfriend? Why didn’t her nurse daughter bring her supplies? Just wonder how many others she got infected?

fisherkid89

Maybe if your rich you can get tested whenever.

Lev928

Glad she is OK. So.... FNP ... it's NOT a disease ... it's virus. Report correctly or not at all.

C.D.Reid

Agreed, lev. https://www.passporthealthusa.com/2020/03/whats-the-difference-between-a-virus-and-a-disease/. The FNP interns have a long way to go...….

DickD

Very interesting and so glad you are better. God Bless!

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