The day before I got sick I ran five kilometers, walked 16 more, and then went up the stairs to my fifth-floor apartment as usual, carrying the clothes I’d washed.

The next day, April 17, I became one of the thousands of New Yorkers who fell ill with COVID-19 and since then I am no longer the same .

If you live in New York City, you know what this virus is capable of. In less than two months, approximately 24,000 New Yorkers have died; more than double the number of people who have died from homicide in the past 20 years.

Now I’m concerned about Americans from other places. When I look at the photographs of crowds crowding a department store that has just reopened in Arkansas, or of groups of people huddled in a Colorado restaurant without a mouthpiece, it is apparent that many Americans are still unaware of the force. of this disease.

The second day I was sick, I woke up feeling that I had hot pitch embedded in the bottom of my chest. I couldn’t breathe deeply unless I got down on all fours. I am healthy, I am a runner and I am 33 years old .

An hour later, she was sitting on a bed in the emergency room, alone, terrified and with a finger attached to a machine that measures pulse and oxygen saturation. To my right was a man who could barely speak, but who was constantly coughing. To my left was an older man who said he had been ill for a month and had a pacemaker. He kept apologizing to the doctors for causing them so much trouble and thanking them for taking such good care of him. Even now I can’t stop thinking about him.

Finally, Dr. Audrey Tan approached me and her kind gaze behind her mask, goggles, and face shield met mine. “Do you have asthma?” He asked. Do you smoke? Any pre-existing disease? ” “No, none,” I replied. The doctor smiled and then shook her head almost imperceptibly. “I wish I could do something for you,” he said.

I am one of the lucky people who never needed a respirator. I survived. But 27 days later, I still have persistent pneumonia. I need two inhalations twice a day. I can’t walk more than two blocks without stopping .

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I want Americans to understand that this virus is making young, healthy people very sick. I want you to know that it is not a simple flu .

Even healthy New Yorkers in their twenties have been hospitalized. According to data from the health department, at least thirteen children have died from COVID-19 in New York State. A friend’s 29-year-old boyfriend was even sicker than me and at one point he was barely able to walk around his living room.

Maybe you don’t live in a big city. Maybe you don’t know anyone who is sick. Maybe you think we’re crazy about living in New York. It’s perfect. You don’t have to live like us or vote like us. But please, learn from us. I ask you to take this virus seriously .

Something I realized, amazingly, is one of the few recommendations and care that millions of Americans are given to manage symptoms at home.

In Germany, the government sends teams of health workers to make home visits. Here in the United States, where primary care is secondary, the only place where most people with COVID-19 can get personal care is in the emergency room. This is a real problem since it is a disease that can cause severe symptoms for months and go from mild to fatal in a matter of hours.

The best care I received was from my friends . Fred, an emergency room resident who cares at a New York hospital, stopped by to visit me on the way to work on his bike to continually review my symptoms and ask about them. Chelsea, my college roommate and medical assistant, has largely taken care of my recovery from pneumonia. Zoe, a childhood friend nurse, taught me how to use the pulse oximeter and then the asthma inhaler that I now use.

Thanks to them, I became an expert neophyte. The advice they gave me and what I tell my family and friends is to get an oximeter, if you can, which is a magical little device that measures heart rate and blood oxygen saturation from the yolk of fingers. If you get sick and the oxygen level drops below 95 or you have trouble breathing, go to the emergency room. Don’t wait

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If you have respiratory symptoms, consider that you are likely to have pneumonia and call your doctor or go to the emergency room . Sleep on your stomach, since much of the lungs are in the back. If your oxygen level is stable, change your position every hour. Do lots of breathing exercises. The one that seemed to work best for me was the one started by the nurses of the British health system and shared by JK Rowling, the writer of the Harry Potter saga.

Why are more people dying of this disease in the United States than anywhere else in the world? Because we live in a fractured country with a fractured health system. Because even though people of any race and origin are suffering, the disease in the United States has hit blacks, Hispanics, and indigenous people the hardest, and we are considered expendable .

I wonder how many people have died not necessarily from the virus, but because the country has failed them and left them to their own devices. Right now, that’s what hurts me, that’s guilt and courage.

As I began to recover, other people died .

For example, Idris Bey, 60, a member of the United States Marine Corps and instructor for the New York City Fire Department’s medical emergency teams, who received a medal for his participation in the 9/11 attacks. September.

Also, Rana Zoe Mungin, 30, a New York City social science teacher whose family says she died after having trouble being cared for in Brooklyn.

For example, Valentina Blackhorse, 28, a beautiful young woman from Arizona who dreamed of being at the forefront of the Navajo Nation.

Those were the faces I saw when I was lying on my stomach at night, trying to take deep breaths and praying for them and for me. It’s the Americans I think of every time I walk slowly now to my neat Brooklyn neighborhood to take in the warm spring sunshine amid a spell of blooming lilacs and toddlers whizzing along on their skateboards.

I hope that the coronavirus never reaches your city, but if it does, I will also pray for you.