Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ex-Florida firefighter quarantines at home after test frustration

Ex-Florida firefighter quarantines at home after test frustration

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Michael Barker, a 69 year-old retired firefighter thought he was suffering from dehydration before he was diagnosed with the coronavirus. AFP

Ex-Florida firefighter quarantines at home after test frustration

MICHAEL Barker started feeling sick about two weeks ago while on vacation with friends in the mountains of Colorado.

The 69 year-old retired firefighter thought at first that he was just suffering from dehydration.

“I had a headache,” he said. “I had a fever, had body aches, excessive thirst.”

He suspected he had coronavirus after returning on March 11 to his home in Wellington, about130km north of Miami.

“I wanted to let my friends know,” Barker said of the couples he had gone on vacation with in Vail, Colorado.

“And then we also have my daughter who lives close to us down here,” he said. “And we have two grandkids. I certainly did not want to expose anyone until I found out something for sure.”

Barker, who retired 10 years ago as the assistant chief of the Boca Raton Fire Rescue Services Department, embarked on the frustrating experience shared by many other Americans of getting tested.

At the time, there were just 23 cases of coronavirus in Florida, which has a population of more than 21 million people.

There are now more than 1,200 cases in the “Sunshine State” and there have been 18 deaths.

“I spent the day trying to find a place where I could be tested,” said Barker. “But that didn’t pan out at all.”

“I called my doctor and went over for an appointment and they examined me and the opinion was that I likely had the coronavirus, but they didn’t have any tests,” Barker said.

As his condition worsened, Barker’s wife contacted a neighbour.

“Our next door neighbour, who is an ER physician in Palm Beach county, was able to get me in and test me,” he said.

The test came back positive -- five days later.

‘Strange illness’

“This is a strange illness,” Barker said. “When you breathe it hurts, makes you confused and light headed.

“It killed my appetite and I’ve lost 14 pounds.”

Barker and his wife have been in self-quarantine in their home since the diagnosis.

Barker’s 66 year-old wife, who asked that her name not be used, is now suffering from what feels like bronchitis.

“Hard to take a deep breath,” she said. “I’ve had that since I came back.”

“I still have a cough that I’m dealing with, although I’m much better than I was,” she said.

“You can’t really totally separate when you come home,” she said. “I was already exposed without probably me even knowing it.”

Barker’s wife said the Palm Beach County Health Department has been in constant contact since it was confirmed her husband had the virus.

“They call me every day to find out what my temperature is,” she said.

Barker said he had been told that “if I do three days with no fever, I’m pretty much over it.”

As the virus spreads, the Florida authorities have purchased thousands of test kits and have conducted more than 13,000 tests.

Because of the shortage of tests, however, they are currently only testing health workers and people over the age of 65 who show symptoms of the virus.

MOST VIEWED

  • Draft law on state of emergency pending finalisation

    Prime Minister Hun Sen will lead a top-level meeting on Tuesdays to review the draft law on imposing a state of emergency. Meantime, he has decided to close all casinos in Cambodia effective April 1. In the press conference after the National Assembly met today, Hun

  • State of emergency on table amid pandemic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, his deputy prime ministers and legal team will meet on Tuesday to review the draft law on declaring a state of emergency, as Covid-19 cases rose to 107 in the Kingdom on Monday. Speaking at a press conference after a parliament meeting

  • Stranded passengers petition UK for help

    Some 10,521 people have signed an online petition calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and relevant officials to fly nearly 200 passengers out of Cambodia. The petition is targeted at 15,000 people. Most of the passengers are British nationals, who are stranded in Cambodia after airlines cancelled

  • Many in limbo as tension heightens

    As the Kingdom restricts travel and prepares for a state of emergency, some foreigners in Cambodia are scrambling for a way home. Foreign embassies in Phnom Penh are making efforts to get their citizens out, but cancelled flights have become common due to the coronavirus

  • Covid-19 Pandemic: Force majeure and legal consequences

    Is the Covid-19 pandemic considered an event of force majeure? The World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak a pandemic on March 11. Following this declaration, the Ministry of Health and other ministries have taken various legal and administrative measures to prevent the rapid

  • State of emergency draft law set for NA

    A draft law aiming to place the Kingdom in a state of emergency amid the Covid-19 pandemic is set for a debate at the National Assembly (NA) after going through the Council of Ministers’ Standing Committee meeting led by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday.