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First-Person Account Of COVID-19: Centre County Man Shares His Story

Dean Lindsey shared a picture on Facebook on March 21, 2020 of the items on his bedside table in quarantine in his State College house.
Dean Lindsey
Dean Lindsey shared a picture on Facebook on March 21, 2020 of the items on his bedside table in quarantine in his State College house.


The number of cases of COVID-19 has been growing across the state and on Friday the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported the first confirmed case in Centre County. By Monday, that number was up to three. WPSU’s Emily Reddy talked with Dean Lindsey, who says he’s one of the first positive cases in Centre County. Lindsey is the Senior Pastor at State College Presbyterian Church in State College. 

Emily Reddy: Well, first, how did you catch COVID-19?

Dean Lindsey: I was in New Orleans for over a week, earlier in the month. And it's a real hotspot for the virus. My daughter and I were visiting my mother, her grandmother, and we both have come down with it. She's a student at University of Michigan so she's not here. But she got it over a week ago, a week ago Friday. So she's had... this is about day ten. And she's finally kind of seeing the light.

Reddy: How about you? What symptoms have you had?

Lindsey: It is horrible. This is like the worst flu you can imagine. It presents with, you know, with the onset of fever and a dry cough, bad headache, bad muscle aches. But then as it progresses and you get different nasty symptoms, like the dry cough turns into a productive cough and then you're... there are aches and pains. And now just huge fatigue. I can't accomplish anything right now. 

Reddy: How many days in are you now? 

Lindsey: This is day four. I got sick Thursday night.

Reddy: And then what was the process like for trying to get tested? 

Lindsey: Well, so I wasn't very optimistic about that. It took my daughter a week for her to get her test back. But I went to... Well, first of all I called the ER at Mt. Nittany and just said, "What, what should I do?" And they sent me to some hotline that nobody ever answered. So the next morning I called my doctor's office and they said well come in at 9:30 and they met me in the parking lot with a totally gowned and masked nurse and brought me inside. I was asked, you know, these different criteria. And so I didn't meet the criteria of the Department of Health for Pennsylvania. What I missed on was, I wasn't having trouble breathing. That's good. Also, as far as Pennsylvania was concerned, they didn't know that, that New Orleans was a hotspot for the virus. So then they sent it to a private lab. And it was back the next day. So everybody was shocked. They thought it would take eight days. It only took a day. There wasn't much ambiguity, but now we know for sure.

Reddy: So are you feeling any better now? 

Lindsey: No.

Reddy: No? No, toward healing, huh?

Lindsey: No. Yeah. And there, there are two things I want to get across. One is that, I'm, I'm a mild case right now. And this is like the worst flu I've had in 25 years or more. So that that kind of terminology is rather misleading, that you know, 80% of the people have a "mild" case. This is not something anybody wants to go through. And the other thing is, I've had no contact with anyone in Centre County. So I did fly back. But I've had no physical contact with anyone here, including my family. So I went straight into isolation after I got back. I haven't spread this around or anything.

Reddy: So you're at home, but you're separate from your family.

Lindsey: Yes.

Reddy: How's that work?

Lindsey: They leave my meals outside the door, and I go open the door and get my meal. And yeah, I'm just in my bedroom.

Reddy: Well, thanks so much for talking with me, and I really hope you feel better soon.

Lindsey: Yeah, thank you. I really, I think it's good for people to hear from some real live people who've got this to sound a warning. It's just this is not good. And anyone who thinks that, "Oh, well, I don't really have to worry about this." I think they're deluding themselves.

Listen to our follow-up interview with Dean Lindsey on day 19 of his COVID-19 illness. 

Emily Reddy is the news director at WPSU-FM, the NPR-affiliate public radio station for central and northern Pennsylvania.
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