‘People have to take this seriously’

Easley woman quarantined after positive COVID-19 test

By Jason Evans

Staff Reporter

EASLEY — As the Pickens County area’s first confirmed case, Jeanette Jewsbury knows firsthand just how serious the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is.

The Easley resident’s test came back positive Friday — the first confirmed case of the virus in Pickens County — and she’s been quarantining herself at home since then.

“I was under the impression it was more that you’d have some type of flu-like symptoms,” Jewsbury said. “I had no symptoms.”

People need to listen to the government’s warnings, advice and precautions, she said.

“People have to take this seriously,” Jewsbury said. “They may be walking around with allergy symptoms and coming into contact with people who may not recover.”

Her son recently flew in from Los Angeles to visit her, she said, and he began feeling like his allergies were acting up.

“I have a dog, so I was thinking ‘OK, that’s what is is,’” she said.

Pat used one of his mother’s breathing treatments and started feeling better, but Jewsbury said four or five days later, she started getting symptoms.

“I started having trouble breathing, started using my inhaler a little more,” she said.

Last Tuesday “was really rough,” Jewsbury said.

“I was struggling to walk up stairs, struggling to breathe,” she said. “On Wednesday night, I started having a pretty bad asthma attack and couldn’t stop it.”

She asked her father to take her to the ER at Baptist Easley Hospital.

“They admitted me because of my breathing and kept me overnight,” Jewsbury said.

While there, she was asked if she’d been around anybody who’d been traveling or out of the country.

When she said she had, Jewsbury was given a coronavirus test as a precaution.

“Even the doctors were like ‘We’re pretty sure this is just asthma-related,’” she said.

When the test came back positive, Jewbury was told she needed to quarantine, as did everybody she’d been around. Her son was in Dallas, on his way back to L.A., and was told to come back here to quarantine, which he’s been doing, although his own test results are not back yet.

“If you come into direct contact with someone who’s tested positive, quarantine for 14 days,” Jewsbury said. “Don’t run around getting tested. We need to assume that they have it. Quarantine yourself for 14 days, that’s the best rule of thumb. The CDC wants people quarantined somewhere.”

Her father drove straight to his home and quarantined himself, she said. She and her 11-year-old son and Pat are quarantined at their house. Another son has quarantined himself in Clemson.

“I feel stupid,” she said. “I was being careful, but I was like ‘I’m not sick.’ And then to find you were sick — I was floored. It really opened my eyes.”

Jewsbury urges people to take the coronavirus seriously.

“You don’t want to be that person out there thinking you’re OK, and then people die,” she said.

She said people need to isolate themselves, as the government advises.

“Handwashing and social distancing, all that’s well and good, but how many people are going to think like I did?” Jewsbury said. “Think of all the people walking around with allergies — some of them have could have coronavirus. All it takes is for one of those people to decide they’re OK and they can affect so many people. Everybody’s going to have to shut down.

“If we can only all just do it worldwide, that’s the only way we’re going to stop this,” she continued. “If you can just have allergy symptoms and have it, how are you going to know you have it? Too many people are going to be nonchalant about it. You go to the grocery store. You come into contact with 10 people and maybe two people get it because of you.”

After learning of his mother’s diagnosis, Pat contacted everybody he’d been in contact with on his trip and told them to quarantine.

“Some are listening to him,” Jewsbury said.

Others don’t seem to be.

“It’s that mentality — ‘I feel OK, so I’m sure I’m fine’ — that’s what’s going to cause an issue,” she said.

Jewsbury said that right now she feels like she has “a really bad head cold without the congestion.”

“My sinuses are super, super stopped up,” she said. “A little stomach upset, a little bit of tightness in the chest. When there’s really bad pollen outside — it’s like that feeling. I would take this over the flu. Other people aren’t doing as well with it.”

She thinks of the coronavirus victims who suffer respiratory failure.

“It could have been me,” she said.

The timing is fortunate — the dental office in Easley where she works has been shut down for several weeks so the owners could complete some continuing education.

“I’ve been home,” Jewsbury said. “I could have been in contact with a bunch of people, but I wasn’t.”

Everyone involved with her case has been “very proactive,” she said.

“The health department’s been in touch with me, the hospital’s been in touch with me,” Jewsbury said. “They’re very on top of it.”

She’s glad she went to the hospital.

“If I’d controlled my asthma attack here at the house … I wouldn’t have thought I was contaminated with it,” Jewsbury said. “You can have this virus and feel fine. Some sites are saying 80 percent of cases have mild symptoms. That’s a lot of people. People aren’t thinking they’re sick and they’re not staying home.”

That’s why isolating is so important.

“We don’t have enough tests to test everybody,” Jewsbury said. “We need everybody to band together and don’t go anywhere for 14 days. That would stop it.”