A candidate for Delaware's lone seat in the House of Representatives is recovered from a COVID-19 battle, his partner said her battle was even worse.
That's what Lee Murphy and Sherry Jarrell told WDEL's Rick Jensen Show on Monday, as they described their battles against the novel coronavirus at the heart of the pandemic, even after Murphy had downplayed the COVID-19 threat to the New York Times in February, saying "it's overblown in the media,” and “they want to get at President Trump every chance they can, but this should not be political. I’m tired of it being overblown and being political.”
After reading WDEL's article, Jarrell reached out to The New York Times claiming Lee was misquoted. Jarrell claims Lee's reference to "overblown" was how Democrats will use anything, including something as serious as coronavirus, to destroy President Trump. Lee, who is not a medical doctor, would not have been commenting on the virus itself, Jarrell alleges. It's unclear whether The New York Times plans to issue a correction.
Murphy, who plans to run against Lisa Blunt-Rochester in November, said he started feeling flu-like symptoms on March 18, two days before going to Newark Urgent Center.
"It felt like I had the flu at that point. In the next couple days after that I just felt worse, and worse, and worse. I had pain in my chest, I was light-headed, and just felt really bad."
At the urgent care center, Murphy was first tested for the flu, and after that came back negative, a COVID-19 test was administered, and he was put on the antibiotic ampicillin, which he said started to knock back his symptoms, even before his positive test was confirmed, and that fact it's not an antiviral drug.
By March 23, Murphy said he was feeling strong, and at the end of his mandatory 14-day quarantine, he passed a series of questions and was granted permission to return to work and other activities.
Murphy's partner and campaign manager Sherry Jarrell had it much worse.
The Temple economics professor, who said she has compromised lung function, joined Murphy at Newark Urgent Care, but she didn't get the test.
"They didn't test me for the flu because I had had the flu shot, and they didn't test me for COVID because they didn't have enough test. They said if Lee tested positive, I was presumed positive."
While Murphy was starting to feel better, Jarrell wasn't.
"I got those 102, 103 degree fevers. I had aches, and crippling headaches. I had a really dry cough that was non-stop, it was really hard to sleep."
Making matters worse, according to Jarrell, were a series of indecisive suggestions by doctors in the early cloud of learning about the coronavirus.
"They were telling me 'don't take Advil' because it encourages pneumonia, but then other doctors would tell me 'oh no, that's old news, you can take Advil," because that's the only thing that was knocking my fever down by a degree."
Ultimately, Murphy and Jarrell's family convinced her to go to the hospital, which she said wasn't easy.
"It was a horrible experience, it was traumatizing. People were coughing, and crying, and gasping, and praying. Everybody treated me from behind a curtain, they were absolute heroes - the doctors and nurses."
Jarrell said her battle with COVID-19 was highlighted by a bout of an intense pneumonia.
"The pneumonia is apparently a really, scary form where the fluids that get into your lung cells are like cement. It's extremely hard to suction them out."
The good news, nearly a month after her visit to Newark Urgent Care, Jarrell said she's on the mend.
"I am much, much, better. Not completely stronger yet, but so much better."
She said after her experience, she can't imagine dealing with COVID-19 if she were living alone.
"Honestly I don't know that I would have made it through it if Lee hadn't been by my side, the entire time, and making sure I got the help I needed, when I needed it."
As for the root cause of their COVID-19 infection, Murphy was at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside of Washington, D.C. in late February, but Jarrell has a suspicion the actual cause goes back to her teaching.
"It's impossible to tell, but we're pretty darn certain that I got it when I taught my class at Temple University after all of my students returned from Spring Break."
Temple's Spring Break ran from March 2-8, which would give her about a week's worth of time to be exposed before she took ill around March 16.
No matter how it started, Jarrell hopes to be on the back end of her fight, and Murphy said they both hope to be eligible to take part in the convalescent plasma donation program being offered by the Red Cross.
"Hopefully soon we'll be able to donate our blood, and our plasma, and help other people."
Murphy said none of the volunteers associated with his campaign got sick, and he's looking forward to getting back on the campaign trail, once he's healthy.