A few weeks ago, I received a phone call that a family friend in her early 60s had passed away from COVID-19. Just 15 days prior, her husband, of the same age, had likewise succumbed to the virus. These were otherwise healthy, hard-working folks who rarely had a need for medical care.

As friends and family mourned the dual tragedy, I myself came down with COVID-19 and quickly became quite ill. Since I was the same age as our newly deceased friends, our children insisted I seek medical attention immediately. I remember hearing on TV that you are only to go to the doctor if you are having trouble breathing, and that wasn't happening yet.

During a call to urgent care, we learned the recommendations have changed. The sooner you get help the better. Do not wait until you can't breathe like our friends did. As soon as symptoms appear, a COVID-19 test should be taken. If it is positive, you may be able to get free outpatient monoclonal antibody treatment, which helps your body fight the virus before it gets out of control. Time is of the essence. A chest X-ray may be taken at urgent care, and you should be given a small device to take home called a finger oximeter to track your blood-oxygen level.

The message of 2020, "We are all in this together," still holds true. So please help spread the word that early medical intervention for COVID-19 is not only available but critically important.

Julie Zastrow

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