Northern California man has coronavirus; at first, friends thought his symptoms were fake

Three weeks ago, Justin Wilhite, a husband and father of three, somehow contracted coronavirus.

The Rancho Cordova man's symptoms began to manifest on March 4. He felt something odd in his lungs. 

After a trip to the emergency room, then to his doctor days later, and then back to the ER a few days after that, the 39-year-old said that doctors treated him like he had the flu. 

He said they told him, "we're going to treat you like you have the flu and you know we don't have enough tests."

Friends thought he was exaggerating his symptoms. 

"Everybody was saying this seems fake, this doesn't seem real," he said. 

But after administering a flu test, which came back negative, doctors finally figured it out. He had coronavirus. And it was then, he noticed, that there were heightened precautions among the hospital staff who were treating him. 

"My wife could no longer come to the emergency room with me," he said. "Everybody had masks, N-95 masks, goggles, a clear face mask, disposable smocks, little booties on their feet and my room was separated, only one person came in at a time." 

Weeks later, Whilhite is now home, but in quarantine as COVID-19 works its way through his system. The pain from the symptoms is a hard reminder that his road to recover is yet far from over.

"The fatigue is the major factor," he said. "I can breathe a little better without the inhale-exhale pain. That was the probably the worst, along with the headache. The headache doesn't go away. It's a constant headache and I've got a constant headaches for three weeks now. That's never gone away.

Wilhite said the danger isn't over. His doctors warned him that even after his symptoms subside, he could remain contagious for up to a month.

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Northern California man has coronavirus; at first, friends thought his symptoms were fake

Andre Senior is an anchor andreporter for KTVU.  Email Andre at and follow him on Twitter @andre.senior