A two-time Olympian from Anchorage, Alaska has revealed she is battling COVID-19.
Thirty-two-year-old Jessica Schultz, the skip on U.S. Olympic women’s curling teams in 2006 and again in 2014, did not respond to queries at the start of the month asking about rumors she had the disease, but she has now begun a blog to talk about her long run in dealing with the coronavirus.
Some believe she may have been infected by contact with the handle on the curling rock at the national curling championships in Maryland, but she has not detailed how or where she believes she contracted the disease.
Fox News in Washington, D.C. first reported a COVID-19 cluster originating there in mid-March. The story didn’t get out until near the end of that month when U.S. Curling revealed up to 20 competitors were sick.
Contact transmission of COVID-19 has attracted little public attention to date, but the Centers for Disease Control is warning motorists refueling their vehicles to “use gloves or disinfecting wipes on handles and buttons before you touch them,” telling shoppers to “use hand sanitizer when you leave the store (and) wash your hands when you get home,” and advising a similar ritual “after accepting deliveries or collecting mail.”
Some physicians have suggested the risk of contact spread could be increasing from people regularly putting on and taking off face masks or other face coverings also suggested by the CDC.
Hong Kong doctors found the virus could survive for up to seven days on a surgical mask. There have been studies of how long the virus might survive on a bandana used as a face covering and regularly stuffed into and taken out of a pocket over the course of a week. The CDC recommends masks be cleaned after each use.
Schultz’s blog makes it clear the new, pandemic disease is something no one wants to catch although the risks of young, healthy people dying from it are relatively low. The death rate for those under age 40 appears in the range of 0.03 to 0.4 percent; that’s about three to four times the death rate for the common flu among the general population.
Above age 50, the risk of death for those hospitalized with COVID-19 accelerates rapidly. In Italy, it hit almost 20 percent for those over 70 and almost 30 percent for those over 80, according to the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University.
Schultz description of her personal involvement with COVID-19 makes it sound like the flu from hell. On April 14, she reported she had been in isolation for almost a month and was still not in the clear.
“My relationship with COVID-19 has been an interesting one. It has been unlike any illness I have ever had before,” she wrote. “Every day I check in with Nurse Michael to give him a temperature reading. Every passing week, I hope that maybe next week I can join the ‘new normal.'”
She said her symptoms now range from “joint pain and inability to function” to a “low-grade fever feeling.” She reported bouts of chills, fever, lethargy, headache, runny nose, chest tightness and more since the infection began.
The founder of curlAK – a company set up to grow the sport of curling in Alaska – Schultz has been unable to work because of the illness that began after winning silver at the Curling Club Nationals.
Before that trip, she wrote, “life was grand. I had a full-time job helping others and my curling non-profit was starting to take off, plus a whole lot of other exciting opportunities.
“I came back from that trip, entangled with Covid, and shortly to follow … filing for unemployment. Is this my worst nightmare? I don’t think it’s anything I could have dreamed up. I work hard. I have always paid my bills on time and usually bounce back from illness fairly quickly. Now, it’s been over a month and I have not seen income of any type, still waiting on that unemployment check (not to the fault of the overwhelmed unemployment office) or any of the government’s offerings. Am I concerned? Am I stressed? Am I scared?
“We all are in some way or another.”