JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of the first people in the United States confirmed to have the new coronavirus shared her story with News4Jax after she made a full recovery from COVID-19.
Kaelyn Sheedy was the first woman in Florida to test positive for the virus after a mid-February trip with friends across Europe -- Spain, Italy, including Milan, and France.
“On my flight back home, I started to feel symptoms. I had a fever. I really wasn’t feeling well,” Sheedy told News4Jax on Thursday.
During her layover in New York, she said, she called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gave her clearance to fly home to Tampa.
“I did everything I possibly could on the flight home -- wear mask. I did as much as I could. It was so new,” Sheedy recounted.
A healthy 29-year-old sports therapist, who works out often, Sheedy never had to go to the hospital. She said she didn’t want to infect anyone else.
“I did entire isolation in-home, spoke to my doctors by Skype,” said Sheedy, who went on to describe what her symptoms were like. “The shortness of breath was uncomfortable. I did a lot of breathing exercises. Probably the worse part was my fever, it was really high, and my cough. It was a really wet one like pneumonia or bronchitis.”
Once worried about telling people that she was a COVID-19 patient, Sheedy is now sharing her story on Instagram and taking questions from people across the globe. She said she decided to use her experience to educate others, especially younger people who aren’t listening to the government’s pleas for social distancing.
“It’s not really about us as young healthy individuals. It’s about the elderly person we might sit next to on our flight home from spring break or the elderly person we might run into on the street. This virus is unpredictable, so we need to be safe,” Sheedy said.
Sheedy has now tested negative. She has made a full recovery after 12 days and she’s thankful for it. Her sister, who’s also her roommate, did not get sick. Sheedy said she believes it’s because she isolated herself and kept the virus from spreading to anyone else.
And now that’s healthy and feeling better, she knows other people can’t handle the virus like she did, and she’s urging everyone to be responsible and care for others.
“We need to protect the people around us, protect ourselves, following isolations protocols if sick, stay away from others, wear a mask,” she said. “If we can get that number down and we can really isolate this virus and stop the spread of it, that’s how we’re going to save people at risk.”
Sheedy said she’s going to be an advocate for stopping the spread, and she encourages anyone with questions to reach out on Instagram at @kaelynsheedy.