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Nashville man tests positive for coronavirus twice

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  • Carter Wright tested positive for the coronavirus in March and then again last week.
  • The 29-year-old said the experience of falling sick twice has been “overwhelming and daunting.”
  • “It’s truly infuriating and baffling that we’re talking about reopening the economy and schools while cases are skyrocketing,” he wrote in an Instagram post that reached over 437,000 people.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Carter Wright visited New York City at the wrong time this spring.

“As the week progressed, everything escalated,” he told Business Insider. “Broadway shut down, New York City declared a state of emergency. It felt like I was in the beginning of a disaster movie where you walk by a TV and see the mayor declaring an emergency and all these COVID-19 educational signs start popping up.”

After he returned home to Nashville, Tennessee, the 29-year-old began displaying flu-like symptoms. He tested positive for the coronavirus on March 26.

Then last week, after Wright developed a sore throat and high fever, he tested positive again.

“I cried a lot that night,” he said.

Wright’s experience aligns with a growing body of research that raises questions about how long coronavirus immunity lasts after an infection. A study in Spain found that antibodies could disappear within a few weeks after recovery, and that some who experience mild COVID-19 symptoms may not develop long-lasting protection.

‘A roll of the dice’

The first time Wright got COVID-19, he developed a sore throat, then a low-grade fever, congestion, and a cough. Black spots appeared in his vision; he continues to experience them.

Because Wright has a roommate, the two separated their food, sanitized everything they touched, and kept their distance.

“We would mark off surfaces, so I would touch the top part of the refrigerator and he would touch the bottom,” Wright said, adding that his roommate hasn’t yet gotten sick.

As Wright’s health improved over the next three weeks, he began working remotely. He mostly stayed home, playing board games with his roommate, watching TV, and exercising in the backyard. Except for the vision issues, his health returned to normal.

After Tennessee’s lockdown ended, Wright started to spend some socially distant time with friends at the park. Even though he’d already had COVID-19, he remained vigilant about wearing a face mask and staying 6 feet away from others. He hasn’t eaten at a restaurant since the pandemic began, and he kept his face covered at a Black Lives Matter protest after the May 25 police killing of George Floyd.

But he began to feel sluggish on July 3. Within two days, Wright said, his throat was too raw to even sip tea.

“I had to kind of use my whole body to force myself to swallow,” he said.

Carter Wright getting tested coronavirus July

Carter Wright getting tested for the coronavirus on July 8 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Carter Wright


Initially, he tested negative for both strep and coronavirus. But two days later, Wright developed a fever of 101 degrees, so his parents encouraged him to go to the emergency room. He tested positive for the coronavirus on July 9. 

“I was in shock and disbelief getting that result. I read it over and over trying to make sure I read it correctly,” he said.

Getting infected a second time was physically debilitating, but it also took a psychological toll: “It’s extremely overwhelming and daunting,” Wright said. 

He’s been racking his brain about where he picked up the virus this time. So far, he’s drawing a blank.

“You hear stories of people passing away from it and you hear stories of people who are fine so it feels like a roll of the dice,” Wright said. “There’s so much unknown about the virus and the amount of anxiety that comes with it is its own symptom.”

Questions about coronavirus immunity linger

One of the most pressing questions researchers are still investigating is the degree to which people who’ve recovered from COVID-19 are protected from future infection.

Evidence so far indicates that COVID-19 isn’t the same as diseases like measles and hepatitis A, which people experience only once. A recent study from researchers in the UK found that antibodies may last less than three months

“We do not know the degree to which previous COVID-19 illness protects against a subsequent SARS-CoV-2 infection or for how long persons are protected,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website reads. 

Findings about antibody lifespan have implications for vaccine research as well, since the goal is to spur enough people to produce antibodies to build up herd immunity within a population. 

‘My body is proof that this is not a hoax’

Carter Wright New York Coronavirus

Carter Wright and his friends in New York City in early March. Two people from this group contracted the coronavirus.

Handout by Carter Wright


Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued a safer-at-home order on March 30, which was amended on April 2 to require residents to stay indoors. A phased reopening began on May 1. But since late last month, the state has seen a sharp increase in cases. Tennessee recorded more than 2,000 new daily cases for the first time on June 29, then reported its highest single-day jump of 3,314 new cases on July 13, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. 

Davidson County, where Nashville is located, is the second-hardest-hit county, per Johns Hopkins University. County data shows more than 16,000 cases and over 150 deaths; young people from 18 to 44 years old make up more than 62% of the area’s total COVID-19 cases to date.

Amid this alarming surge, Wright said, he’s disheartened that a many people still aren’t taking the coronavirus seriously. In Nashville, he’s heard people complaining about face masks, foregoing social distancing, and dismissing the the virus as a conspiracy.

“I would boil in the moment,” Wright said, adding, “my body is proof that this is not a hoax.”

Instead of one-on-one confrontations, he wrote an Instagram post about about his COVID-19 experience. It has been shared more than 437,000 times.

A post shared by Carter Wright (@carterandwright)

 

Wright said he thinks the federal government’s haphazard handling of the pandemic has had deadly consequences.

“Lives have been lost because of the government’s response,” he said. “It’s truly infuriating and baffling that we’re talking about reopening the economy and schools while cases are skyrocketing.”

He continues to urge people to take proper precautions.

“Wearing a mask, socially distancing, and washing your hands are vital to public health. They’re simple but they make such a difference,” he said. “I think we need to take our American individualism and put it to the side and really come together as a community and as a country to put public heath first.”

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