One Bloomfield family knows what the coronavirus feels like, but even they can’t tell you exactly what symptoms to watch for.
Cory Sonnichsen, 30, who was the second positive test for COVID-19 in Knox County a week ago Tuesday, just felt tired and achy. His wife Brooke had a runny nose, headache and congestion. Their daughters, Marrich and Dalee, are now showing signs of cold symptoms, including a dry, itchy throat and a stuffy nose.
“None of us had a fever throughout this,” Brooke said. “I just really want to emphasize that someone who has this virus can show little to no symptoms, while someone else could get deathly ill from it. It's not a joking matter, it is very scary.”
They think it all started a couple weeks ago as their family prepared for a vacation to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. The night before they left, the Sonnichsens stayed overnight in Omaha. Unfortunately, Marrich broke her arm and had to be taken to the ER in Omaha that night.
“The waiting room was packed full of people wearing masks and sick people,” Brooke said. “They knew we weren't sick, so they took us back right away, not knowing that Cory was with us. So he ended up out in the waiting room while we were back getting her arm taken care of.”
They were able to leave for their vacation on March 11; however, it got cut a little short.
“My sister had to hightail it back to Germany because of all the restrictions and borders being closed because of the virus,” she said. “We got in on Saturday (March 14) around 6 p.m., and Cory said he was tired and achy, so he went to sleep.”
Although Cory had no other symptoms, Brooke messaged Dr. Riley Eckmann.
“She advised us to social distance and try to avoid contact with other people just to be safe,” she said. “We went to the grocery store on Sunday morning since everybody would be in church, and we wouldn't have to interact with a lot of people. Other than going to the grocery store for 20 minutes, he slept almost 36 hours straight, but then he woke up and was completely fine.”
Although Cory is an LPN at Good Samaritan Center in Bloomfield, he didn’t return to work Sunday night for precautionary reasons.
By Monday morning, he was feeling completely fine, but received a call asking him to go to Creighton to take a test for the coronavirus.
“There are not many tests available around here to give, so the only reason he was able to get one was because we traveled outside of the state,” Brooke said. “He was 100 percent sure that he did not have the coronavirus. He received a call the next day saying the test came back positive. He was frustrated and confused because he felt fine.”
The Sonnichsens received strict orders not to leave their home or have contact with anyone. Cory was supposed to isolate himself from the rest of his family. Unfortunately, by this time, it was too late.
“It started off with a runny nose, then I started getting a really bad headache and really congested,” Brooke said. “My head felt like it was going to explode. I consulted with the doctor again, and was given some over-the-counter meds that were dropped off by the pharmacy.”
Since Cory’s positive test, the North Central District Health Department called the house every few hours the first couple of days to see how they were.
“When I started showing symptoms, they said they presumed I was positive, but they were not going to give me a test,” she said. “It was really bad for a while, I was scared because it was hard to breathe and I was totally congested. My heart started racing randomly, my hand would go numb because of poor circulation, and I would just want to pass out from exhaustion.”
Brooke said the health department called and monitored her very closely since she’s labeled “high risk” due to heart and lung issues.
“We set up a plan about what I'm supposed to do if it gets really bad, and I need to call 911 just for my peace of mind, and so Cory knew what to do if it got to that point,” she said. “I'm so thankful for Dr. Eckmann and Liz from the health department, they checked in on me and did everything they could to keep me out of the hospital. I'm starting to feel better, but still have some times where I'm really exhausted and congested, or a random pain throughout my neck and jaw, but I'm so lucky.”
The girls are starting to show cold-like symptoms now, but nothing more.
When Cory tested positive for COVID-19, there were a lot of questions. And the Sonnichsens decided it was time to provide some answers.
“We decided to put it on Facebook just to let everybody know it was him, that we are infected, to try to stop rumors and let people know it is us, and we are following strict orders not to leave the house,” Brooke said.
They expected some backlash from the community; however, they received the exact opposite.
“We honestly love this town and that's why we call it home,” she said. “We would have never gone to the grocery store or anywhere, knowing he was positive. We are so completely humbled and totally grateful for all the support we have had bestowed upon us.”
Brooke said they are thankful for every prayer, thoughtful action and each person who stood up for them.
“There are no words I can possibly say that would express how deeply touched we are,” she said. “I am completely overwhelmed by all of it. I just want to say that this community is amazing. And we are lucky to have a fantastic medical clinic with people who genuinely care about their patients. Our doctor is a blessing to this town and everyone she knows.”