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Fever, coughing, body aches: Durango man describes 12 days of COVID-19

‘It felt like I was some kind of walking pestilence’
Durango resident Jeremy Barker, who had COVID-19 in mid-March, said one of the hardest parts of battling the virus was the sense of isolation and depression that set in during his sickness. Barker, who tried to eat an apple a day, said he lost about 15 pounds during his illness and had a recurring fever for about 12 days.

It started with pain in his lower back, then came a fever he couldn’t shake for 12 days and an extreme loss of energy.

Durango resident Jeremy Barker, 38, said his COVID-19 symptoms began in mid-March around St. Patrick’s Day. As soon as he noticed them, and knowing it could be the novel coronavirus, he said he began quarantining inside his home.

The fevers, which ranged from 101 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, were unlike anything he had experienced before and would break only to return the next day. He tried to eat an apple a day while he was sick, but ended up losing 15 pounds and suspects he injured his sternum from severe coughing.

Barker, who is the son of Rod Barker, owner of the iconic Strater Hotel in Durango, said he never suffered shortness of breath and never felt like he was gasping for air like some COVID-19 patients have described. But his oxygen levels were lower than normal.

He said he did not get tested during the drive-thru testing days at the La Plata Fairgrounds because he had a fever, and people were told not to attend if they were feverish. But he did do a nasal test after he no longer had a fever, which confirmed he was positive for COVID-19.

One frustrating aspect for Barker was using San Juan Basin Public Health’s hotline for COVID-19 assistance and updates. According to Barker, during the early days of the hotline, he kept running into a recording instead of a real person. He was later contacted by a public health contact tracer and provided information about who he had been around before self-quarantining.


While the physical symptoms like the cough and fever were hard to experience, Barker said one of the most unacknowledged byproducts of having COVID-19 is the sense of isolation and loneliness that can set in while in self-quarantine or self-isolation.

“Being that isolated, not seeing the sun, and then the depression that sets in from that,” he said. “On top of the low energy (from the virus), the lack of contact was hard.”

While he had a support system, including family and friends, delivering him food and supplies, he was still quarantined at home alone and depleted of energy.

“It’s a pretty surreal experience to be in and feel like everyone is afraid of you,” Barker said. “It felt like I was some kind of walking pestilence or like I was a danger.”

Courtesy of Jeremy Barker<br><br>Jeremy Barker set up a &#x201c;silly walk zone&#x201d; on the sidewalk in front of his house to inspire community connection and encourage fun.

With nonessential businesses beginning to operate, he said he is concerned about “what it looks like when we open up again.”

To help with the sense of disconnect and to encourage some fun in the community, Barker established a “silly walk zone” on the sidewalk in front of his house. The sidewalk designation is in reference to the Ministry of Silly Walks in a Monty Python sketch. Anyone walking through the zone is encouraged to do their silliest walk.

Despite the stay-at-home orders and quarantining, Barker said the experience highlighted how interconnected everyone is.

“No one truly lives in isolation,” he said.


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