Last week, Joseph Papa, 37, and his husband, John-Stuart Fauquet, 38, tested positive for the coronavirus.
They live in Richmond’s West End, where Papa is a book publicist and Fauquet works in executive recruiting.
Before the calls for social distancing were issued, they traveled to New York, Philadelphia and Charlottesville for work.
After coming down with fevers, they were tested for coronavirus on March 13. Five days later, they received the news that they tested positive.
We wanted to check back in with them to see how they’re doing.
Papa sent the following update.
QUESTION: How are you feeling?
ANSWER: Every day is a little different. Overall, we’re feeling better, and I believe we’re over the worst of it.
Our fevers seem to have abated, with neither of us having [had] one for four days. We are both still extremely fatigued and having respiratory symptoms, shortness of breath, easily winded, and at times it sort of feels like there’s a wet paper towel lining my lung.
I completely lost my sense of taste and smell. JS lost his partially. We’ve both experienced bouts of light-headedness.
QUESTION: How long does the virus last?
ANSWER: As it progresses, we’ve noticed that we’ll feel a bit better one day and try to do something like clean the kitchen or a load of laundry, and it completely wipes us out. When we’ve done that, the next day is worse for us in terms of fatigue.
QUESTION: What should we share with our readers?
ANSWER: We remain quite grateful for the support we’ve gotten from friends and neighbors. It’s been truly overwhelming and we hope that everyone who’s able to is prepared to extend kindness and support to those in need in the coming weeks as the number of cases goes up.
Please stay home and encourage others to do so. The virus is here and the spread will only be worse if we don’t flatten the curve.
QUESTION: Are you experiencing any challenges to being home-bound?
ANSWER: We both already worked from home before COVID-19. We’re both just beginning to start working again but trying to not over-exert. We’re not feeling well enough for cabin-fever to set it, but cabin-fever is better than a real one, and we’re happy to stay put.
Our doctor has been great, checking in on us and letting us know the most up-to-date guidance. Hopefully, we will have immunity when we’re over this but we are staying quarantined for the foreseeable future, and certainly while we’re exhibiting symptoms.
Because of the press we were asked to take part in a study to develop alternative testing methods. We were sent various tests and had to send them back.
QUESTION: What’s this experience been like?
ANSWER: One other thing I’ll add, if it’s of interest, is that going public with our diagnosis was a truly strange experience for us both. We did it to encourage others to take this seriously, and we’ve been grateful to hear that the message has resonated.
People I haven’t spoken to since high school contacted me to let me know that they showed the article to their parents, who were being cavalier about their activities. Putting a face to it seemed to help some react accordingly.
Knowing that has been a nice balance to the homophobia and ignorant messages we received. Thanks for the opportunity to tell our story.