Duke student continues to test positive for COVID-19 despite feeling fine


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — In trying to avoid the coronavirus we know to stay away from anyone who seems sick, but some people who test positive for COVID-19, get very mild symptoms or none at all.

“I was lucky enough not to have symptoms and I think that is more common than people do realize,” explained Duke student, Jenny Cooke.

Cooke only got tested for COVID-19 because she came back from a trip with others who caught the virus. She said she was nervous when she learned she had it, even though she felt pretty well, physically.

“I thought it was basically allergies, but I didn’t know if something dramatically worse was going to happen, I was going to end up on a ventilator,” she recalled.

Fortunately, her symptoms never got worse, but for more than a month, she’s stayed isolated inside her apartment, because her tests for COVID-19 continue to come back positive.  

Doctors say with so many unknowns about the virus, and because it can cause mild or no symptoms in some people, it’s tough to tell who may be contagious.  

“It’s hard to know if that one person who has very mild symptoms is the one that’s going to infect 70 people or is that person who has mild symptoms not going to infect anyone,” explained Dr. Amir Barzin, who leads UNC’s Respiratory Diagnostic Center.

Cooke gets weekly tests because she’s part of a research study, but other people may not realize they’re infected. Barzin says that’s why it’s so important for everyone to take precautions.

“What we are seeing are the benefits of doing things like physical distancing, new recommendations to wear a mask,” he said. “We want people with even mild symptoms or no symptoms to do the best they can to eliminate any potential spread across the board.”

Even though she feels fine, Cooke isn’t leaving her apartment.  

“I’m trying to make sure I don’t give it to people who would deal with it worse than I would,” she said.

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