SPOKANE, Wash - As a registered nurse, 26-year-old Eilish Bessmer knows more about COVID-19 than your average Joe… including the fact that most people her age may be asymptotic and never even know they have the novel coronavirus.
“I was like, ‘Eh. I’m not worried about this. It’s not a big deal. I’m young. I probably won’t show the symptoms like they’re saying.’ But it took a lot out of me and it kicked my butt,” Bessmer said.
The butt-kicking started in March, when Bessmer was sitting on her couch, watching television.
“My chest got really tight and then, I started coughing a bunch. Felt short of breath,” she said.
Shortly afterwards, she took her first COVID-19 test and went into quarantine on March 24. Her test was inconclusive, so she took another one.
“Yesterday (March 31), they called me cause they had to send it to the Mayo Clinic, and it came back positive,” she said.
Even though her initial test came back inconclusive, Bessmer said she wasn’t surprised to find out she did indeed have COVID-19 because her symptoms were making it hard to complete the simplest tasks.
“I couldn’t even walk up the stairs without getting short of breath. It felt like I had ran like ten miles after I took a shower. It took a lot out of me, and I think it’s important for people our age to know that it is serious,” she said.
Multiple elected and/or public officials have recently spoke out about the need for young Americans to take the pandemic more seriously, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
“I’ve been speaking about this for over a week now, and if you are a young person in America today, you need to stay home. There was so much messaging about how coronavirus is only impacting older people and that younger people don’t have to worry about it for their personal health. Well, let me tell you something: in the state of New York, about 55 percent of our cases are with folks 18 to 49,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’
When Daisy Robinton, a 33-year-old scientist and COVID-19 patient, was asked by Fox News if young, healthy adults were at risk, she said, “Absolutely.”
“In the U.S., we’ve seen that roughly 1 percent of people in the 20 to 29 age range are hospitalized. It’s not a huge number, but it’s not zero,” Robinton told Fox News. “That’s just hospitalizations. Many people who remain home have severe symptoms, as well, that aren’t quite severe enough to require hospitalization or medical attention.”
Bessmer has no idea how she was infected. After getting in touch with every single person she came into contact with in the past several weeks (nobody she knows has felt any symptoms), she tried figuring out how she might’ve been infected… and still hasn’t been able to figure it out.
“I touched my steering wheel… after I touched the keypad… after I touched all this other stuff. There’s no way around it, honestly. You can wash your hands, you can not touch your face, you can stay six feet away from people, but literally the only thing that will save you is if you stay home and don’t leave,” she said.
Bessmer is also a registered nurse for a hospital in Spokane County. She doesn’t want to reveal where she works because she believes her facility is taking extreme precautions, including providing proper PPE. (She has not worked in weeks.)
“I love my job. I love what I do. I love going to work… It just kills me that I can’t be there for them (coworkers and patients),” she said.
While she isn’t on the frontline, Bessmer knows that staying home is a way to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s speaking out, so that those with a choice to stay home don’t end up in her shoes… where there isn’t a choice anymore.
“When you’re going out into the public, you’re putting everyone else out at risk. You don’t know if you have it… It’s just very important that as a community, and as a nation, that we work together as a team. We’re all in this together and we need to listen to what the experts are saying,” she said.