COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A 23-year-old Utah man says he and his friends tested positive for COVID-19 after taking a ski trip to Steamboat Springs back in March. Now a month later, he says the virus severely diminished his sense of taste and smell.
Matt Newey and his four friends drove from Salt Lake City to Steamboat Springs on March 13th to hit the slopes. It was that same weekend Colorado officials announced several business closures in response to COVID-19. “They said they were shutting down the resort. 'We’re closing it down due to COVID-19 concerns,'” Newey said through a ZOOM interview.
On Sunday, they drove back home but it wasn't until two days later that Newey said he started feeling lethargic and unwell. Then one of his friends texted their group saying they too weren't feeling well.
Newey says, “One of them asked, ‘Hey, is anybody else feeling kind of weird today?’, and then all of us were chipping in like, ‘Yeah, I feel funny too, this is weird.’”
Fortunately, Newey says he already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for the next day for an unrelated reason. The doctor said Newey had a 101-degree fever and needed to get tested for the flu. That test came back negative. Then the doctor tested him again this time for COVID-19 and that came back positive.
“At that moment my world is just spinning, my heart was pounding,” Newey says.
His four friends also tested positive. From there, Newey stayed in his basement of his parent's house for quarantine. As the days progressed, his symptoms became worse.
"My symptoms were like a roller coaster," Newey says, "I was experiencing everything from headache, fever, chills, body aches sore throat and then it progressively got into my lungs, to where, you know, it felt like I was breathing through a straw.”
He started documenting his symptoms' progress. It was on the seventh day Newey started to have a cough. His mind slowly started to wonder if this illness would kill him.
“It definitely ran through my mind that this could be my last sickness that I’ll ever battle which is kind of scary," Newey says, "I just kept thinking this better not get worse because I don’t know how much longer I can take.”
However, after two weeks of quarantine and three days without any symptoms, he got the all-clear from his doctor. But Newey says his lungs still aren't 100 percent and that the virus left him with some neurological damage. He says he's not able to taste or smell.
"I've tried garlic, I've tried onions and I couldn't smell anything," Newey says. He even posted a video of him eating whole lemon without even puckering.
The scariest part, Newey says, is since the virus is so new, doctors don't know if his sense of taste and smell will ever come back. Needless to say, Newey hopes they do.
Newey says surviving the virus has changed his perspective on life. He says he now helps the elderly get groceries and continues to document the impacts the virus has left on him. If you want to see his progression, click here.