The top public health official in Marin County, Dr. Matt Willis, announced two weeks ago that he was self-quarantining at home with a case of the novel coronavirus, and now he's emerged out the other side to describe the first-hand experience.
"I was diagnosed 16 days ago," Willis says in a YouTube video posted Monday. "And finally today I'm able to come out of isolation. This is my fourth day without fever and my symptoms are improving."
Reading from a prepared statement, Willis says he was initially optimistic that his would be a mild case. "I underestimated how serious my illness would be. I developed a viral pneumonia that landed me in bed for about 12 days with a fever, cough, chest tightness and fatigue. On Day 10 of my illness, I spent some time in one of our emergency departments because I was having shortness of breath. The emergency room was calm and efficient, and they were well prepared to care for me while making sure everyone on the team remained safe. It was reassuring... to see our system working so well."
"I'm relatively healthy," Dr. Willis says. "But I have needed help with almost everything at home. I know that if I were more frail, or older... things might not have gone as well. This experience reinforced to me how important it is to take aggressive action to protect ourselves... and our healthcare workers."
Willis notes that as he emerged from his own personal case of COVID-19, he was proud to see how the Bay Area had flattened the curve.
"In Marin, we've had a total of 23 COVID hospitalizations, as of today," Willis said. "We're obviously caught up in this pandemic, but we're not seeing the surges we expected before we made the radical decision to shelter in place... Harder times are coming as cases will rise. But looking around we see victories in some of our first, most important battles... This illness has been humbling. But also it taught me that less can be more as this virus runs its course, and laying low is protective."
In addition to getting back to work, Willis says that he's most looking forward to getting to sit down to a meal with his family again, downstairs in his house.