Opinion: COVID-19 is very real but conquerable

Editorial designer Ben Daniel recently contracted COVID-19 while being in charge of researching and designing the COVID-19 outbreak page of the print edition of the Universe. (Ben Daniel)

I’ve been looking at COVID-19 numbers for months, and now I am one. 

Nearly every week since the pandemic began, I’ve researched, analyzed and visualized COVID-19 data for graphics in the print edition of The Daily Universe. It was a surreal feeling to test positive for COVID-19, look at the numbers for the graphic and realize I was one of them. I knew the pandemic was real — I had been taking it somewhat seriously — but I suddenly had to face it head-on.

The most common question I get is “What was it like to have COVID-19?” I was lucky and had a fairly mild case. I didn’t have any noticeable respiratory issues or a cough. The odd thing about this illness was that it was cyclical. Every day I would wake up and feel perfectly healthy. I barely had a fever and felt great. By the mid to late afternoon, my fever would spike, a painful headache would come on, and I would feel just plain sick from head to toe. Then, by the time I would go to bed each night, I would feel almost back to normal.

For the first week, it was an emotional rollercoaster to wake up each day and think that I may have been over the disease only to crash back down every afternoon and realize I was sicker than the day before. 

By far the strangest symptom was loss of taste and smell. One of my favorite quotes is from Voltaire: “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.” That is absolutely true. It is surprisingly difficult to work up the motivation to eat when the only pleasure you can get out of it is texture and temperature. Shoveling flavorless sustenance down your throat is not the most enjoyable pastime. This was a particularly problematic symptom as my body needed food to heal.

Losing smell was also more psychologically difficult than I had expected. Lacking sense of smell takes some of the vibrancy out of life. My days become surprisingly one-dimensional without smell. It is a sense you completely take for granted until it is gone.

I’ve also been asked if I view the pandemic differently now that I’ve actually had the coronavirus. I want to emphasize that this pandemic is very real. It is not a conspiracy, it’s not some story invented by the media, it is real and it is serious. However, it is also conquerable.

From my experience watching the numbers, having the disease myself and most importantly watching how incredible humanity is throughout my life, I have absolute confidence that we will overcome this disease. In the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “There is help and happiness ahead — a lot of it … It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

— Ben Daniel
Universe Editorial Designer

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