COVID-19 survivor shares recovery story

Posted at 11:00 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 07:19:49-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — A Utah man who got sick with Coronavirus during a ski trip in Colorado last month is opening up about how the symptoms impacted him in to raise awareness about the seriousness of the virus. Matt Newey and four of his friends were planning to spend a few days at Steamboat Springs when the resort unexpectedly shut down.

"It was March, Friday the 13th, not the luckiest day of course," he said. "On that Saturday, we get this text alert while we're out skiing that the whole ski resort is shutting down because there's a big outbreak going on."

All five started noticing symptoms after returning home to Salt Lake City. Matt initially dismissed his body aches as the result of overexertion on the slopes. He was tested for COVID-19 a few days later when he happened to be at the doctor's office for a pre-scheduled check up.

"While I was in there, as he was checking my blood pressure and heart rate, he checked my temperature and said I had a fever of 101 degrees," Matt said.

A flu test came back negative. The doctor's office called the next day with news of the positive COVID-19 test. Matt contacted all of his buddies and urged them to get tested as well. All four came back positive.

"I was in complete shock, and the first thing that went through my head was I've got to go tell my friends because they're probably infected too," he said.

As a professional videographer, Matt started documenting his illness. He made a series of vlogs discussing his symptoms and showing his self imposed quarantine in his parents basement. The respiratory symptoms didn't arrive until about a week into the infection. They hit Matt hard.

"It got to the point where it felt like I was breathing through a straw and I couldn't even catch my breath and my lungs and sinuses burned like crazy," he said.

He compared the burning sensation to running outdoors in frigid weather. When he'd stand up, he would feel dizzy from the lack of oxygen. Matt called the hospital, but they urged him to stay home unless he absolutely needed to be on a ventilator.

"There are people who are on ventilators who are in far worse circumstances than I am who are fighting for their lives and it really woke me up to the seriousness of this pandemic," he said.

After getting through that night, he slowly started to feel better. However, the virus has left lingering problems. His lungs are still not at full capacity, and he's lost some of his sense of taste and smell. A few of his vlogs show Matt eating and drinking different foods to see what he can and cannot and taste.

"I grabbed a whole lemon I was able to eat the entire thing without tasting or puckering," Matt said.

Since recovering, he's donated his plasma to help other patients. He also volunteers to shop for groceries and deliver them to neighbors who are in the high risk groups for complications.

Matt hopes by sharing his story publicly, people his age understand the seriousness of the virus and why it's important to protect those who at most risk.

"Young adults my age, we like to be active and social, and it's hard to live in this pandemic and be isolated. It's not that fun," he said. "But it's just so much more important for us to make sure we're taking these heavy precautions because this virus is serious and it can really hurt people."

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