If coronavirus were an out of control fire, which in some ways it seems like it is, our health workers would be the firefighters on the front lines. Around the world, doctors, nurses, and other incredibly brave health workers have fallen ill and even died from COVID-19, all due to their efforts to save the lives of those suffering from this horrible viral infection. 
Raeburn Fairweather was one of those health workers who became sick with COVID-19, a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The 47-year-old respiratory therapist at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn became extremely ill with COVID-19 and was out sick for two weeks but has since returned to the front lines of the fight.
Along with the fever and headache, Fairweather suffered from a less common symptom of the virus – a loss of taste and smell.  On the third day, he described the development of ‘thick, white mucous’ that he steadily coughed up until the end of March.
Having experienced the disease first hand, Fairweather issued a warning: “If your body cannot fight, you will not make it. It wears your body down.”
Fairweather’s recovery is good news at a time when headlines are dominated by mounting death tolls and a pandemic that is still spreading exponentially. As of March 6th, there are over 1.3 million confirmed cases worldwide and 72,638 fatalities.  Fairweather has since rejoined his colleagues in saving lives, but perhaps most importantly, he can go back to his role as a loving husband and father to five children.
When he began showing symptoms of COVID-19, Fairweather immediately quarantined himself to protect his family, squirreling himself away in a separate room in his family’s home. He says that because of his choice to quarantine, no one in his family has shown any symptoms.
Fairweather’s job includes treating patients who are experiencing severe respiratory distress from COVID-19. But he says that in the early days of the outbreak, doctors and hospital staff often didn’t wear protective gear when interacting with people who were not suspected to have COVID-19.
“I’m going to be honest with you, the staff was still somewhat laid back about it,” he said.
Fairweather fell ill on March 17th and tested positive for COVID-19 on March 18th.
According to Eileen Tynion, the spokeswoman for Maimonides Medical Center, the hospital allows employees who have recovered from COVID-19 to return to work once they have been without a fever for four consecutive days. Officials at the hospital confirm that other hospital workers have tested positive for COVID-19 as well.
Fairweather’s story has a happy ending, but unfortunately, that has obviously not been the case for everyone. New York’s hospital systems have become overwhelmed by the number of people needing critical care for their COVID-19 infections. The situation there underscores the importance of social distancing, washing your hands, disinfecting surfaces that are commonly used in your home, wearing a mask in public, and not touching your face.
Make the decision to stay home and avoid unnecessary trips out. Contact with others could mean the difference between life and death for yourself, the people in your family, and your neighbors.
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