What does it feel like to have Covid-19?
From everything we hear, there is a range of symptoms. At the very worst, people die; we don’t yet know what percentage of infections end in death. They’re relatively rare, we do know that, but not insignificant.
What usually gets patients hospitalized is pneumonia.
Short of that, some — probably most – people feel very badly weakened and generally lousy.
And then there are people like Matt Krass of New City.
Mr. Krass is a music teacher; often using the nom du play Matty Roxx, he works in many synagogue’s early childhood programs, including at the Kaplen JCC in Tenafly, Temple Emanu-El of Closter, and Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lake, as well as in Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle and Beth El of Northern Westchester in Chappaqua. He goes to Tribeca to work in the nursery school at the Jewish Community Project Downtown. He’s also a member of the Orangetown Jewish Center.
He gets around.
He also rarely gets sick; “I am exposed to so much that normally that puts me in a strong immune category,” he said.
But last Tuesday was different.
“I woke up and had some chills,” he said. “I took my temperature. It was 99.6, which for me is a red alert. I never get above 98, and I’m usually below. So I knew that something was not quite right. I popped a couple of Ibuprofen right away, but I knew to get to the doctor.”
It seems unusual for a 40-year-old man to be so quick to get medical help for a low-grade fever, but Mr. Krass knows how important that can be. Two years ago, his wife, Orlee, “had a bout of meningitis and a subsequent brain hemorrhage.” She recovered and she’s fine now, but “she had a bleak prognosis for a while. I was with her in the hospital and then rehab for about five weeks. So ever since then, she has been the first one, at the smallest sniffle or cough, to say ‘Let’s get it checked out.’
“So going to the doctor was her idea, but I agreed. I knew that it shouldn’t be the flu – I’d gotten a flu shot – and I just wanted to be sure.”
So Mr. Krass went to his own doctor, “who did a throat culture for strep and a flu test, and he said, ‘You are not a person of interest for coronavirus, but because you go to all those schools, I will test you anyway.’” (Mr. Krass does not know how his doctor came to have an extra test kit.)
“So he did the test, but it wasn’t right – they had the wrong swab, and they had to reswab me with a pipe-cleaner-like thing.” (It goes up your nose. Is that as unpleasant as it sounds? “It’s not fun,” Mr. Krass allowed.)
“Then he said that we’d hear in three to five days, and I’d have to stay home until we hear back. My family – I have three kids, 11, 9, and 5 – didn’t have to stay home. And you can bet that I was following them around with a thermometer, and saying, ‘does everyone feel okay?’ And they are fine, thank God, and my wife is too.
“So I heard back on Thursday night, at almost 10 o’clock. We were all watching TV, and as soon as I picked up and said ‘Hello doctor’ and heard his voice, I got up really quickly and ran to my room, away from my wife and kids.
“The doctor said, ‘You tested positive. Your wife and kids have to stay home for 14 days, and you have to stay away from them.” He’d need another test seven days after feeling his last symptoms, and a third 24 hours after the second one. Then he’ll be free to leave home – if, of course, there is anyplace left to go that has not been shut down.
“The Rockland Department of Health has been calling to check on me, and they sent someone to the door to make sure that we actually were where we were supposed to be. They hand-delivered envelopes, one for each one of us, telling us that we need to remain home. This is very serious.”
Since his fever went down — it never went up very high, and he kept dosing himself with ibuprofen anyway – Mr. Krass has felt fine.
“The worst thing was the jitters that my kids had,” he said. “My 9-year-old probably was expecting me drop dead right there. It took a while to calm her down. But it’s good in that they have seen me well. I am like totally well. They have seen that in the past five days, and they understand that it is not a death sentence. It hasn’t been as bad as the media makes it out to be — or at least not in my case.”
He’s been keeping busy doing interviews and podcasts. “There are people who want to hear my story. They want to put a face on it,” he said.
At first, Mr. Krass said, he thought that he should remain anonymous. That’s how it seems to be done; there seems to be stigma surrounding people who were indiscrete enough to catch an easy-to-catch virus. But that didn’t work. “Because I work in so many places, I reached out to all of them, and said that I had tested positive.” Not using his name didn’t work so well, because “there was social media chatter in my kids’ schools and in the school district. Nobody named me, but they did name the two schools that my kids go to, and there was a little bit of finger-pointing going on.
“So I said, ‘Let me get out in front of it.’”
After he told his story, he learned that “people shared it beyond wherever I could imagine it going, with people offering blessings and prayers.
“There’s a big world of support out there,” he added.