Recovery has been a hard journey for one COVID-19 survivor.
Anil Gharmalkar of Parsons, Kansas, who participated in a video news conference Tuesday morning at the University of Kansas Health System, is still feeling some of the aftereffects of COVID-19, months after he got it and then recovered from it.
A small business owner who drives a delivery truck, Gharmalkar began feeling fatigued and having trouble breathing in April while on the road in Indiana, he said. He thinks he might have got infected when he was out on the road making deliveries in Louisiana. He had recovered from a bout of pneumonia in March.
It took him about a day and a half longer to get home than usual because of the fatigue. He went to a hospital in Parsons, where he was put on a ventilator. Then he was transferred to the KU Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, where he was in the intensive care unit for 10 days, and five more days in a regular room before being discharged.
He came back to the hospital once for treatment of inflammation of his throat. Inflammation is not unusual in COVID-19 patients.
While he doesn’t have the virus now, he is taking steroids, his voice is hoarse and he is still dealing with some aftereffects of COVID-19.
Some Parsons residents don’t wear masks, and now they have been asking him to wear a mask when he is around them, thinking he might spread the disease.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at KU Health System, said other people are more of a risk to Gharmalkar than he is to them now. In general, it is believed patients cannot spread the infection after about two weeks of first showing symptoms.
Tests have come back from his family, showing they did not get COVID-19 from him, he said. His family was assiduously following cleaning and health guidelines, Gharmalkar said.
Dr. Hawkinson said they don’t really know if Gharmalkar can get COVID-19 again. They are learning more about the coronavirus every day.
“It takes six to 12 months to fully recover from episodes as serious as yours,” Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at KU Health System, told Gharmalkar.
“I would encourage people to be more careful,” Gharmalkar said. .
“I definitely think there’s quite a large misunderstanding on what recovery means,” he said. What he has seen in survivor groups is there’s quite a long road back, he said.
One of the hardest things about the whole ordeal is to ask questions and to have people tell you they just don’t know the answer, he added.
Dr. Hawkinson said they are continuing to see exponential spread of the coronavirus. Case numbers in a lot of states continue to increase.
“I think we all need a full culture change,” he said.
He said they need to work toward keeping everyone healthy, not gathering in groups, washing hands, wearing masks and socially distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.
People can reopen society, but they have to do it in a thoughtful, conservative way and not go back to the normal, Dr. Stites said.
“It’s still a COVID world. We want to work toward a post-COVID world,” he said. Everyone’s halfway through it now, he added.
On Tuesday morning, KU Health system reported 25 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, including two children, up from 24 on Monday, according to Dr. Hawkinson. There were eight patients in the ICU, down from 10 on Monday, and two patients on ventilators, down from three on Monday. The age range of patients in the ICU was 33 to 83.
At 1 p.m. Tuesday, the Unified Government COVID-19 webpage reported 3,114 positive cumulative cases in Wyandotte County, up 49 cases from 1 p.m. Monday. The number of deaths was the same, 88. The number of hospitalizations was 36, up seven from Monday, according to the UG COVID-19 website.
Kansas removes three states from its quarantine list
On Tuesday, Kansas removed Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina from its quarantine list, according to a news release.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment modified its international travel list from all international travel to just countries with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice and restrictions on entry into the United States, plus Bahrain and French Guiana. Those traveling internationally are subject to CDC re-entry guidance and protocols.
The list is for all persons returning to or entering Kansas on the dates listed. The state reviews the list every two weeks. Visitors and Kansas residents need to quarantine for 14 days if they have traveled to:
• Florida on or after June 29.
• Arizona on or after June 17.
• Been on a cruise ship or river cruise on or after March 15.
• International travel to Bahrain or French Guiana on or after July 14.
International travel on or after July 14 to countries with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice, including China, Iran, European Schengen area, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Brazil. International travelers must follow CDC guidance and protocols
Others needing to continue quarantining:
• Anyone subject to a travel-related quarantine for a state or country previously on the travel-related quarantine list must complete their 14-day quarantine period.
• Received notification from public health officials (state or local) that you are a close contact of a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19.
Kansas bases its list on new case rates by population size, and Kansas numbers are increasing significantly, according to Dr. Lee Norman, Kansas secretary of health. The Kansas cases by population base have approaches or surpassed the states they had on the list, he said.
“We must do better, Kansas,” Dr. Norman said. “Practice social distancing, wear a mask, stay home if you’re sick, avoid large gatherings. Each one of us is responsible for our actions.”
Critical infrastructure sector employees who have traveled to these destinations should contact their local health department regarding instructions for application of these quarantine orders while working, according to KDHE. Critical infrastructure employees, such as public health, law enforcement, food supply, need to have the staffing resources to continue serving Kansans so the local health department may allow a modified quarantine. The only exemption for these quarantine mandates for critical infrastructure sector employees is work – they are not to go any other locations outside of work.
More information is at www.kdhe.ks.gov/coronavirus.
To view the KU doctors’ news conference, visit https://www.facebook.com/kuhospital/videos/582605922426522
The governor’s executive order on masks is at https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/20200702093130003.pdf.
The governor’s news release on the mask order is at https://governor.kansas.gov/governor-laura-kelly-signs-executive-order-mandating-masks-in-public-spaces/.
The Wyandotte County mask order is at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/06272020LocalHealthOfficerOrderRegardingMasks.pdf
A news release on the Wyandotte County mask order is at https://www.wycokck.org/WycoKCK/media/Health-Department/Documents/Communicable%20Disease/COVID19/06272020PressReleaseLHORequiresPublicToWearMasks.pdf.
Wyandotte County now has posted an application for nonprofits, government agencies, school districts and businesses in Wyandotte County that want to apply for CARES Act funding. The web address is https://us.openforms.com/Form/6273fe80-8bba-4c18-b4e7-e551096d8a83.
For information on how to make an easy no-sew mask, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/how-to-make-a-no-sew-cloth-mask/.
For more information about COVID-19 testing, including other sites, visit https://wyandotte-county-covid-19-hub-unifiedgov.hub.arcgis.com/pages/what-to-do-if-you-think-you-have-covid-19. Residents also may call 3-1-1 for more information about testing.
The state’s COVID-19 test page is at https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/280/COVID-19-Testing.
Residents may visit the UG COVID-19 website at https://alpha.wycokck.org/Coronavirus-COVID-19-Information or call 311 for more information.
Wyandotte County is currently under Phase 3. See covid.ks.gov.
The state plan’s frequently asked questions page is at https://covid.ks.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Reopening-FAQ_5.19.2020_Final.pdf.
The CDC’s COVID-19 web page is at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.