What it's like to have COVID-19: Florida patient urges kindness as he recovers in isolation

He was doing business with a potential client and unknowingly came in contact with someone who had the COVID-19 coronavirus. The Pasco County man is now home recovering from the disease. 

Business owner Gene DellaSala runs his online magazine, audioholics.com, from the comforts of his home, but last month a potential client came by and unknowingly exposed him to the novel coronavirus.

"He came over on February 28 and I took him into my theater room. We did some demos and I gave him a drink and we shook hands; you know, that kind of normal conversation. He stayed for about an hour and a half," said DellaSala, who spoke with FOX 13 over Skype Thursday.

He said he fell ill about three days later.

"I just woke up with bad stomach cramps, mild diarrhea kind of stuff, and I just thought, 'Maybe I ate something bad the night before,'" he recalled. 

DellaSala said he felt better for a few days, then felt sick again. About a week after the client's visit, DellaSala got a call.

"He goes, 'Well, I just wanted to let you know that the gentleman who was at your house is in the ICU because he's been tested positive, him and his wife, for coronavirus.' I was like, 'Oh my God,'" he said. "We tried to figure out a place to be tested. It's very hard to find a place to be tested. And we were lucky to find AdventHealth in Wesley Chapel had the facility to do the test."

RELATED: Patients grow frustrated amid shortage of testing kits for novel coronavirus

He’s been isolated in his house since Tuesday, unable to have contact with his family.

"I feel bad for my wife because she's got her own medical conditions, and she's trying to cook for me and she's trying to bring me stuff," said DellaSala. "I'm not touching anything in the house. I'm kind of roped off."

He said recovering from COVID-19 has been physically draining.

"I just want to get over this. I don't want anyone else to get sick and I want life to go back to normal as soon as it can," he said.

And as more people are diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, DellaSala said people should keep kindness in mind.

"Just treat people like humans because I saw some really negative comments about one of the interviews that I did, and we're still people. And we don't want to get people sick. I don't want to be sick and I don't want to get anyone sick," said DellaSala.

RELATED: Number of novel coronavirus cases in Florida increase by 17

Even though there are unknowns surrounding the virus, he hopes people will try to find some calm.

"I hope people don't get fearful of this. I hope they support people that have it because I think there's a lot more people that have it than we realize right now," he added.

He said he’s due for another test from the health department soon, which will show if the virus is still in his system.

DellaSala said everyone can do their part by taking precautions emphasized by health officials, such as not shaking hands and washing their hands frequently.

If you feel sick

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Questions may also be emailed to covid-19@flhealth.gov. Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website
CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know
RELATED: CoronavirusNOW.com, FOX launches national hub for COVID-19 news and updates

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