Despite “doing everything right,” a 31-year-old man found himself in the intensive care unit crippled with COVID-19 just after going out once to buy groceries.
Benji Ha, who has always been relatively healthy, said COVID-19 felt “like a bag of bricks hitting you in the face” — and that it made breathing extremely difficult.
Weeks ahead of contracting the coronavirus, Benji had isolated himself at home and wore masks, aware that his age and health cannot protect him from the pandemic. But he eventually ran out of groceries, which forced him to head out for the supermarket.
“I was running low on groceries. And that’s when I made the run,” Benji told NBC LA.
SARS-CoV-2, or severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, the pathogen responsible for COVID-19, spreads mainly through respiratory droplets from the coughing or sneezing of an infected person.
Such droplets can land in the mouths or noses of nearby people (within about 6 feet or 1.8 meters), or possibly be inhaled into the lungs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Benji started coughing a day after his trip to the supermarket. He soon developed a high fever and painful body aches, which made sitting up a struggle.
The 31-year-old wound up in critical condition at Southern California Hospital at Culver City. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 late last month.
Benji recalled gasping for every breath. Though he was not put on a ventilator, he was given oxygen to aid his breathing.
“Late at night, your brain messes with you. And you’re very, very scared to fall asleep because you’re not sure you’ll wake up the next morning,” he told NBC LA.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath, which may appear two to 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC.
The disease may also present signs that warrant immediate medical attention, such as troubled breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face, to name a few.
Benji is now recovering in self-quarantine. It’s unclear who exactly infected him at the supermarket, but he’s sure “it could hit anyone.”
“I just went grocery shopping. That was it,” he told NBC LA.
There are currently 2,151,199 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has the highest number of cases at 667,225, most of which have come from New York City (223,691).
Feature Images via NBC LA (left; screenshot) and Pixabay (right)