On March 12, Jim Hewitt came down with a fever, body aches and a headache, but was denied a COVID-19 test until 10 days later, when he woke up severely dehydrated and nearly physically immobilized. He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and given the COVID-19 test, which came back positive.
"I woke up with severe dehydration," said Hewitt. "Couldn't walk, couldn't talk and couldn't stand and went to the hospital. That's when I was tested."
On March 22, he was tested for the virus, but he didn't learn the results until April 4 -- a full 13 days later. The test results were positive, but by the time he and his family learned the news, he had recovered and felt much better. His family also came down with similar symptoms and were on the mend when they received the results, but they were never tested.
"People really need to take this seriously, because you don't know who could have it," said Hewitt. "I don't know where I got it. This was probably on March 10 or 11 when I came in contact with the virus and you don't know where it is."
Hewitt's friends and neighbors dropped off food and care packages outside the family home while they self-quarantined indoors. But Hewitt cautions that the shortage of tests and restrictions placed on who receives one has created deceptive numbers that downplay how many cases truly exist. This sentiment has been echoed by public health officials like Dr. Amy Acton, the director of health for the Ohio Department of Health.
"Don't let the numbers fool you," said Hewitt. "Even though there's only like 3,700 cases that have been reported in Ohio, there's many more. Don't let it fool you into a sense of security. You just have to take it very seriously."
Testing is becoming more accessible in Ohio and Kentucky, and hospitals like Bethesda North have been working toward having their own in-house tests to help expedite results.