22-year-old describes 12 days with coronavirus: 'I thought if I fell asleep, I wouldn't wake up'

Amy Shircel was vomiting for days and was so weak she could barely walk.

April 2, 2020, 6:40 PM

Amy Shircel thought she had a nasty cold.

The 22-year-old is healthy, active and well below the age considered high risk for novel coronavirus.

Then, Shircel's fever shot up to 102. She began vomiting. She lost her energy. She couldn't make it to her refrigerator without losing her breath.

Her symptoms began on March 15, she said. Initially, she just had a cough and felt weaker than usual.

The next morning, she developed a fever. Shircel, a resident of Kenosha, Wisconsin, opted to get tested for coronavirus as a precaution, but said she didn't think she actually had the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that older adults (65 and older) and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for more severe complications. However, there have been a number of younger Americans, including those without underlying conditions, who have become seriously ill or died and officials increasingly warn that it can strike anyone.

Yet, as she waited to receive her test results, her condition worsened.

Days later, on March 19, her results came back. Test results provided to ABC News by Shircel showed a positive result.

PHOTO: Amy Shircel, 22, said she tested positive for the novel coronavirus on March 19, 2020.
Amy Shircel, 22, said she tested positive for the novel coronavirus on March 19, 2020.
Courtesy Amy Shircel

Coronavirus, has infected more than 962,000 people around the world, according to data by Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., there are at least 216,768 cases in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

"I think the worst of it was I was so weak I couldn't walk. … I had no energy. I hadn't eaten in nine days. I was so dehydrated," she said.

"I thought if I fell asleep, I wouldn't wake up," Shircel added.

Shircel said she went to the emergency room twice, each time being admitted overnight before being sent home the next day.

At one point, she said her parents had trouble waking her up and they became so worried that they called for an ambulance.

"I woke up to EMS pounding on my door just because they were so scared for me," she said.

Shircel shared her story last week on Twitter. She said she did so after seeing some of her followers and friends who still weren't following the necessary measures to stop the spread, like social distancing and staying home as much as possible.

"I had friends who just got back from Miami. I had friends who were literally in Florida at the time on their spring break," she said.

She called it "frustrating" to see, especially as she was dealing with her illness and said even if people aren't concerned for themselves, they should take the guidelines seriously for others.

Shircel stressed "the importance of quarantine and actually being quarantined and not just having your boyfriend over. That's not what it means to be in quarantine. … It's important to not be selfish and be greedy. Just be patient."

She hopes her story encourages other young people to take the virus seriously.

"I definitely thought as a 22-year-old I was invincible," she said. "I think that's the overwhelming opinion."

She said she is thankfully feeling better now. It has been more than 72 hours since her last symptom, which she said is the timeframe her doctor gave her before she could really consider herself coronavirus free.

"I can definitely tell I've been sick for a long time. I'm a little more weak than normal but I have my energy, my appetite," Shircel said. "Honestly, for a while, I forgot what it's like to feel healthy, so it's been really nice."

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