News4Jax journalist Vic Micolucci, 32, who contracted the coronavirus, wants people to know that no one is immune, not even people as he is.
WJXT TV-4 reporter and anchor Vic Micolucci, who has been covering the story of COVID-19 for months, is now telling of his experiences of getting walloped by the virus — hoping it will get across the message that anyone can become sick, horribly sick.
Anyone. Even those younger than his 32 years.
"I don’t want to be the story, but I also have a opportunity to share my story and remind people we’re not invincible," he said over the phone Tuesday afternoon.
Micolucci woke up about a week ago feeling rotten. He had a headache and was extremely tired. He got confused, had no appetite. His temperature crept up. His body ached, and nothing would ease those aches.
"I’m not unique or special," he wrote in a story on News4Jax’s website at news4jax.com. "I join more than 4 million people across our country. PEOPLE. Not numbers. People. I feel for all of them. And their families. It’s not a pleasant process. For some, it’s worse than others. More than 151,000 Americans have died. I can’t imagine their final moments; the pain their families endured not being by their side."
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Micolucci had been taking care of his health, hiking and kayaking and staying active. "Then all of a sudden, I’m down," he told The Times-Union Tuesday. "I tell you, it’s not anything that I would wish upon anybody else."
His shortness of breath got so bad that on the fifth day, he thought about going to the hospital, though he held off and is now feeling somewhat better.
The symptoms, though, weren’t the worst part of it, he said. What if he had spread the virus to someone else?
"The main thing was to make sure that none of my contacts were sick," he said. "You never want to responsible for anyone else’s pain or issues. I’m happy to report that everyone’s well."
He believes he got the virus through a friend. But he had been careful at work, careful enough that the disease doesn’t seem to have gone beyond him.
In the article he wrote, Micolucci said he knows he is relatively lucky: "I’m battling this disease with all my might. I’m getting through it. And, statistically, I should be fine. I hope to put it in my past very soon. But I can’t help thinking about those who don’t have as good a chance. Who won’t catch their breath. Who are scared. And dying. Without a cure. Alone."
As a Jacksonville native, he had people who pitched in to help, though he’s isolated himself since symptoms began.
"Thankfully due to friends and family and technology, I’ve been able to build my fortress at home and survive," he said.
Staying at home though, suddenly inactive, has given him a perspective on how many seem to be approaching COVID-19.
"There’s so much fighting, so many people arguing among themselves. People think it’s not real," he said. "They can say, `Well, only 5,000 people have died.’ I hate the numbers — we use them as journalists, but people are people, and every person’s an individual."
Micolucci said he’s seen social media of young people partying, ignoring social distancing and mask wearing, thinking it won’t affect them. But he knows some of his contemporaries who contracted the virus, and shortly after his story ran he heard from someone who said their 30-year-old sister had died of the coronavirus.
"In my age group I’ve had so many friends who have had it and have kept it a complete secret," he said. "That’s totally their prerogative; it’s a private medical issue. But it also gave me incentive to go public with it. I believe in transparency, I tell people’s stories, and I should be open about it."
Micolucci is hoping that sharing his story will help others.
"This was never about me," he said. "It’s not an, `Oh look at me, I’m suffering, cry for me, send me get-well messages.’ I don’t want that. This is about saying, `Hey look, this virus is still here, the numbers are really still climbing.’ And people would just like to move on, which I understand. But you also have to realize there are people who are suffering."
Matt Soergel: (904) 359-4082
This story originally published to jacksonville.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.