Why You Should Follow Health Guidelines No Matter Your COVID-19 Symptoms

Nov 20, 2020

Nichol, Josie and Brent at Josie's high school graduation, June 27, 2020.
Credit Nichol Bondurant

Back in early March when COVID-19 still seemed distant, Nichol Bondurant had just finished a workout in her basement.

"When I came back upstairs, I just didn't feel very good," Nichol said. "And it just kept getting worse and worse by the minute."

She checked her temperature, and it was high. She didn't really understand what COVID-19 was, the world was still just understanding the symptoms, but she figured she should be careful.

"I went and quarantined in my room that night, and I didn't come out of quarantine until almost a month later," she said.

For nearly a month, she experienced almost all the symptoms that we now know can be related to the virus.

"I had shortness of breath, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, [and] chest pain. It seems like every day there'd be a new symptom," she recalled.

Meanwhile, Nichol's husband, Brent and daughter, Josie, were at home helping take care of Nichol. And within a week, Brent had what he thought was an asthma attack.

"But I haven't had asthma in 20 years. So, it's been a long time since I had any problem with it," said Brent. "Inhalers kind of work, not really. And basically, it's never gone away. I now have a burning pain in my chest. It's not like my normal asthma, wheezing."

Eventually her daughter, Josie, admitted that she had lost her sense of smell.

Within one household, there were three different spectrums of the virus: severe, mild and almost no symptoms. And all three of them had the same capacity to spread the virus.

Wyoming is the least populated state per capita but has recently been consistently in the top five states with the most new COVID-19 cases per day. This is why public health officials are asking people who have the virus or may have been exposed to follow social distance guidelines no matter whether they feel sick or not since any level of COVID-19 is a serious one and you may infect others.

"It's highly contagious," said Dr. Mark Dowell. He's an infectious disease physician and the Natrona County health officer. "A contagious case, an active case may give birth to three or four additional cases, and they give birth to three or four additional cases. And that's why it's spreading so rapidly right now."

Dowell said about 40 percent of people have no symptoms and then you take the other 60 percent of people that have symptoms, the spectrum is wide from just a runny nose to being in the hospital on a ventilator.

"It's important to point out that this is true with a lot of infectious diseases, not just this particular virus," he said. "There's a whole spectrum- you can almost name the organism and you can see a spectrum of disease associated with it."

COVID-19 is a coronavirus. There are many different types of coronaviruses that affect human beings. The most common one is the cold. Dowell said the reason why someone has worse symptoms than another person depends on whether your immune system has seen one of the coronaviruses before and how strong your immune system is, which usually correlates with age.

"What may play a role is how much virus did you inhale," said Dowell. "Because if you just inhale a little bit, maybe your immune system can get on top of that a little quicker and a little more easily then if you get a huge load of virus that goes into you all at once."

And Dowell continued to stress that no matter what range of symptoms a positive individual has, they need to follow the social distance guidelines, especially young people.

"This idea that, 'I'm invincible, and it doesn't matter. And I'm going to do it, it's my right to do this, this and this isn't fair to the rest of the people-' because we know it's highly contagious," he said. And I've got a 29-year-old, that's in the hospital right now, [who] is deathly ill and was healthy."

Dowell said some more populated states are handling this much better than Wyoming.

"Wyoming had 1,100 cases, new cases, with a population of...what's our population? 500,000. Massachusetts, population 6.7 million people, ,1000 new cases," Dowel said as an example. "One thousand with a population of 500,000 [and] 1,000 with a population of 6.7 million. That gives you an idea of how serious this is."

Nichol and Brent Bondurant said they are still feeling the effects of catching the virus. Both of them have lingering coughs and difficulty breathing still.

"No one wants to feel like this. And no one would want to accidentally be the person that passed it on to someone and then someone they care about gets sicker than needed or something," said Nichol. "So it's a humane thing to do to wear a mask, socially distance, [and] if you have symptoms stay home."

Not new advice but it's advice that everyone needs to start following, she said.