For Alaska journalist Jennifer Williams, the news is that she’s become the news. Again.
This time the news director for Kenia’s KSRM has revealed she’s one of the five people with COVID-19 in a community of approximately 8,000 people approximately 55 miles south of Anchorage on the shores of Cook Inlet.
She is well enough that she is being treated at home.
Williams is the only journalist known to have been assaulted on the job in 2019 in Alaska, where journalists are often criticized, as they seem to be everywhere these days, but more likely to be attacked by bears than people.
Williams’ assailant has not been caught, and this time she knows not from where her latest medical problem came.
In some version of a journo’s world from hell, she seems to have become a twisted version of Li’l Abner’s Joe Btfsplk with the bad news always falling on her instead of those she meets.
Sick and sicker
Prior to the test showing her positive for COVID-19, Williams messaged that she was being treated for pneumonia. Whether that pneumonia was COVID-19 related or whether she was suffering from pneumonia that made her more susceptible to the newly discovered coronavirus is unclear.
In Italy, where the COVID-19 death toll is high, researchers are investigating whether people reporting to hospitals with pneumonia caught the COVID-19 there, or whether Italian pneumonia cases reported in October and December of last year might have been among the globe’s first cases of the new disease.
The big blowup in COVID-19 came in Wuhan, China in December, but Italian epidemiologist and University of Milan medical statistics professor Adriano Decarli, told Reuters there was a “significant” increase in COVID-like hospitalizations for pneumonia and flu in the areas of Milan and Lodi in October and December.
Those two cities were among the hardest hit in Italy, and Decarli said people started dying in their hospitals before the new coronavirus was officially identified.
“We want to know if the virus was already here in Italy at the end of 2019, and – if yes – why it remained undetected for a relatively long period so that we could have a clearer picture in case we have to face a second wave of the epidemic,” he said.
Williams reported she is at this time doing OK with the disease. She described her symptoms as “just similar to pneumonia, exhausted and fever with loss of weight and no appetite. Breathing is difficult.”
Many people with COVID-19 report no symptoms, and nearly all of those who do suffer symptoms recover. World Health Organization data indicates there is a better than 99 percent chance of recovery for people lacking pre-existing conditions, primarily heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, high blood pressure, and active cancer.
“I am immuno-compromised due to my previous health issues,” Williams said. “(But) I’m a fighter! Don’t you worry.”
She was well enough to drive herself to a local Walgreen’s drug story to fill a prescription after her week-old diagnosis, which she first revealed on Twitter Sunday.
“I tested positive for #Covid_19 last week and have been quarantined at home,” she wrote there. “Weighed whether or not to announce it publicly, but honesty and transparency is how we will #FlattenTheCurve! Symptoms are similar to what I was battling with pneumonia. Hope it stays that way.”
Williams has been off the air since the end of March. Somewhat ironically, the last story she reported was on the spread of the cornonavirus in the 49th state.
Little could she know she was destined to become one of the details.