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“14 lonely days in a sick L.A. haze…” 

Confirmed coronavirus-positive and stuck in Los Angeles, Gadsden County native son checks in with hometown from quarantine; urges locals to “take this disease seriously.” 

Upon receiving word that one of Gadsden County’s own had tested positive for coronavirus while out-of-state and far from friends, family and the comforts of home, Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young decided to try and reach out to the young man, hoping a voice from home might help soothe his COVID-19-weary soul.

The Gadsden born-and-bred patient in question is 31-year-old Anthony Johnson, with whom Sheriff Young had the pleasure of speaking on the phone last week, with the help of family members currently residing in the county.

Johnson reportedly became sick after flying to Los Angeles to visit friends and family in late March. What was to be a fun, leisurely visit to sunny Southern California suddenly became a frighteningly surreal battle for health in pandemic hell, when Johnson began to exhibit the tell-tale signs of COVID-19. Like hundreds of other men and women in the City of Angels, Johnson’s diagnostic test came back positive for the novel COVID-19-causing coronavirus dubbed “SARS-CoV-2.”

The displaced Gadsden Countian is now part-way through a 14-day quarantine, “taking it as easy as possible” and believing in God for healing, he told Sheriff Young in a phone conversation last week. Johnson was keen to share “his reality” with Sheriff Young and the citizens of Gadsden County, hoping to help others avoid the same fate.

Before experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 for himself, Johnson said he – like many others – was skeptical as to the severity and danger of the disease. Though by all accounts young, healthy, strong and brave – even serving his country in the Florida National Guard – Johnson discovered the hard way that COVID-19 is no respecter of persons when it comes to symptom profile, with young and old, healthy and frail alike experiencing the full brunt of its viral wrath in many cases – Johnson’s being no exception.

Wracked with “unbearable pain” the first several days of being symptomatic, the picture painted by Johnson of his COVID-19 experience bears little resemblance to the nonchalant descriptions by skeptics comparing this new disease to the common cold or seasonal flu. More than mere “fever and cough,” Johnson complained that breathing has been uncomfortable, even proving a struggle at times; and though the hellish pain he experienced in the beginning appears to have relented, Johnson said he’s still plagued by perpetual head- and body aches, not to mention bothersome fatigue and other physical woes.

Johnson urges every Gadsden County resident to “take the disease seriously” and follow all recommended protocols: follow curfew, stay at home whenever possible, and when it’s not – truly – practice social distancing at all times, maintaining at least six feet of separation between yourself and others. Wash hands frequently and avoid touching your face. And if you’re sick, call the local health department (850-875-7200) or Florida’s 24/7 COVID-19 helpline (866-779-6121).

Sheriff Young and deputies ask the local community to join the sheriff’s office in prayer for Johnson’s complete recovery.

Special to The Herald