I tested positive for Covid-19 not long ago.

It wasn’t a worried-well test, or even a test I got because I had recently traveled to Italy or China, or had been in contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19.

I got tested because I felt awful.

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Covid-19 didn’t hit me like I expected after having read so many news stories about the new coronavirus as part of my job. I was on the lookout for a dry cough or a slow-onset fever.

Instead, I suddenly developed chills, aches, a mild fever, a sore throat, and a terrible headache — sort of like the flu on steroids. Even then I assumed I didn’t have Covid-19 because the symptoms didn’t match what I’d been reading about. I got tested the next day. Within three days I was much better. Now I’m just extremely tired and, because of a history of pneumonia, trying to force myself to sleep.

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I’m now relatively fine; lucky, even.

Officials in the Bay Area, where I live, had been preparing so much that I was able to get a test when I needed it. Facebook, where I work, sent us home a few weeks ago, so it’s unlikely I affected a big group of colleagues. I had gone shopping for home supplies weeks ago. Maybe now I’ll have immunity and be able to go help others.

Here’s what I wasn’t prepared for: asking my school-age kids to back away from me and telling them that this scary thing that was keeping them out of school and upending the entire planet is now inside our house. Inside their mom.

My daughter cried and asked if I will get better. I couldn’t hug her as I reassured her that I would. My son wrote an account of it for our home newspaper. “Anne Kornblut has the coronavirus but do not worry it is not the bad kind,” he wrote on the front page. “Please note that you should not be within ten feet of Anne.”

The health department called to inform me to stay away from everyone, including my husband and children. Who should take care of them if my husband tests positive, too, I asked the public health nurse? “We haven’t had that scenario yet,” he said, offering to call me back.

As I waited for the result of my coronavirus test to come back, I wondered if I knew anyone who had Covid-19. It’s one reason why I am sharing this now: so you know someone with it. You probably know other people, only you and they don’t know they’ve been infected with the coronavirus. The only reason I know is because my county had tests. Many of my friends and co-workers need tests but now probably can’t get them.

Now that I’m feeling better, I sent my son over to play with a friend. I cooked my kids a meal. I’m being careful — washing my hands constantly — but in hindsight, even my relatively high caution wasn’t enough to keep me from catching Covid-19.

I’d like to assume that everyone reading this is taking seriously all the Covid-19 precautions: being good about social distancing, washing your hands often, following the recommendations to stay home and not gather, even if it feels safe. If you aren’t, I beg you to start.

My employer has gone above and beyond the call of duty in deploying remote work strategies, compensating affected employees and contractors, and looking for ways to help the staff and the community. I’m proud to work at Facebook. I’m also wracked with guilt as I think of all the people whose employers won’t or can’t do as much. So many businesses are closing. So many people are sick without care.

And above all so many people are dying. My family is bracing for it to be someone we know. My problem — of not being able to hug my husband or my kids for a while — is an easy one to have by comparison.

It’s not completely clear when or how I will be declared 100% well, when I can safely hug my husband and kids, when I can leave my room without a mask. An emergency physician I trust, who is working on the Covid-19 response effort, told me it’s seven days after the onset of symptoms or 72 hours after my last fever.

A brilliant science reporter friend, who is covering the coronavirus outbreak, sent me a quote from Dr. Anthony Fauci who recommended two negative coronavirus tests, spaced 24 hours apart. Perhaps other friends of mine, with other expertise, will weigh in.

And my own wise doctor? She called me from home, with the sounds of her children squawking in the background, and cautioned me how little anyone really knows for sure about all of it.

Anne Kornblut is the head of news curation at Facebook. This essay is adapted from her Facebook post.

  • But she sent her son to a friend’s house to play? The one really dark part of this. I understand the felt need for a little break for them both, but that seems pretty uncaring.

  • I have got it. The most difficult part is I am the only one in my circle of close friends, family or wider known friends. The illness is awful but not worse than food poisoning type illness. Still at home. On the mend.

    • Hi, can you tell me what are your symptoms and for how long have you had them? I am so scared and stressed right now, I think I have it😔

  • If anyone has COVID-19 and seeks solace in this article PLEASE also consult the CDC’s website.

    To come out of isolation the CDC lists that you must comply with ALL of these three things:

    1. No fever for 72 hours

    AND (not or, as the article lists)

    2. Your other symptoms have gotten better
    AND
    3. It’s has been at least 7 days since your symptoms first appeared.

    Fact check me: cdc.gov. Be safe everyone. Wash your hands.

  • Not sure how you “got lucky”? If you have school age children which you mentioned I assume you are 30’s 40’s? Getting over this is by far the most likely scenario given no other underlying conditions.

  • I live in the Bay Area as well and woulld love to find out where did she get her first test, how long to wait before getting the result, assuming it was negative, then where to go for the second confirmatory test?

  • How are we ever going to know the true numbers on this illness? We live in a county where we cannot be tested due to no test kits. We are getting sick, but no one is testing us. When we call and ask to be tested, they tell us to stay at home unless we are in distress and need treatment.

    In a neighboring county, patients are going into the hospital all with the same symptoms and eight died in one day, but because they were not confirmed coronavirus cases, they were not reported as coronavirus deaths.

    Something needs to be fixed.

  • “ and I let my son go play with a friend”. As a nurse, can I explain what an abysmal choice this was??? He son could easily be a non-symptomatic carrier, and may bring the disease to a household that otherwise might have missed it. I am happy she recovered , but appalled by this choice.

  • Why are you letting your child go over to someone else’s home? Isn’t this what we are being told not to do?

  • Thank you, Anne. I live in the midwest in a state where I’m proud of my governor leading the way. But THIS information is what we need as individuals, parents, family. As a community we need employers like FB all across the country; now there are no boundaries to hire really good people who cannot move to Silicon Valley; those of us out of work through no fault other than our businesses, our midwest infrastructure refused to be early adopters of technology; our employers still Do. Not. Know. How. to manage telecommuting: both tech side AND human side. Please encourage FB to hire nationwide because my kids are already worried because we (have not said to them but the see it) – won’t have a place to live in a few months as this keeps up. Our elderly parents cannot take us in due to health concerns. FB and Silicon valley have the power to hire. And hire widely, remotely. You know where we live. 😉

  • Compare Covid-19 numbers: US population (331 million) vs 2 African countries with roughly the same population (321 million).
    Nigeria: With 184 cases it has 10 recovered for every dead.
    20 recovered. 2 dead.
    Ethiopia: 29 cases. Zero deaths.

    • Because they aren’t testing most people, and because, like some other countries with lower rates, deaths are listed as coronary arrest, pneumonia, sepsis, etc.

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