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First Identified COVID-19 Patient in Greater Houston Returns Home

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A Fort Bend County man who was the first Houston-area resident to be diagnosed with COVID-19 returned home recently, 18 days after he was first admitted to St. Luke’s Health Sugar Land Hospital. The 70 year-old-patient who wished to remain anonymous recently sent a letter to the Houston Chronicle thanking hospital staff who cared for him during his recovery.

“They risked their own lives to save mine,” he said. “I will consider them my angels forever.”

The man began feeling sick after returning home from a trip to Egypt on February 20, he wrote. He and his wife traveled with a group of friends on a Nile River cruise ship and he assumed his condition was due to the fatigue of traveling. When he continued to feel poorly, he received urgent care on February 24 and tested negative for the flu.

On February 29, the couple learned that a member of the group they were with tested positive for COVID-19 upon her arrival back to Taiwan. Egypt was not known as a COVID-19 hotspot, but nonetheless, more than 45 passengers of the ship were diagnosed with the virus. The Fort Bend man’s fever persisted, and his wife called 911 on March 3.

“From the moment I was put in the ambulance and arrived in the ER,” he wrote, “I could, half-consciously, feel a large group of healthcare workers fighting to gain time to save my life.”

The patient was admitted to the ICU and his care team developed a plan to treat this now pandemic-level virus. All staff underwent a 10- to 15- minute decontamination process, including donning extensive protective gear to safely work on improving the man’s condition. He wasn’t able to see all his care team’s faces, but he knew they were fighting for his recovery.

“I was greeted everyday with nothing but the medical staff’s love and encouragement,” he said, “and that gave me the positive energy I needed to get better.”

Now back at home and on the mend, the man still has some time before he is considered “recovered” officially by county officials. However, the worst of his fight is behind him.

“It’s going to be a process,” the man’s daughter told the Houston Chronicle of her father’s road to recovery, “but at least it will be at home.”

Houston Chronicle

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