Rylee Atteberry succinctly describes her struggle with COVID-19.
“It was hell,” the 21-year-old Coastal Carolina student said.
Atteberry, who is a goalkeeper on the women’s soccer team, is now doing her best to stay healthy and fit.
“Being a college student, you kind of have to find ways to take care of yourself because you’re on your own,” she said. “I get sick pretty often and I am usually able to handle myself.”
However, when Atteberry started feeling bad back on June 9, she knew something wasn’t right.
“I get the flu every year when it comes around, sometimes twice, plus I am susceptible to sinus infections, so it didn’t really scare me at first because I thought it was something different,” she said.
Her first symptom was a sore throat. Then, a pneumonia-like cough followed.
“Once it started to become painful, that is when I started getting a little anxiety,” she said. “I knew this wasn’t right and I could just tell something was different.”
A few hours after that, the deep, congested coughing began. That was when Atteberry knew.
“I tried to stay as calm as possible, but the realization that this was not something I have been used to kind of made me start to panic,” she said.
The CCU goalkeeper said her symptoms progressed “literally overnight.”
“I was fine one day and the next day I had 102 degree fever and was bedridden because the body aches were so bad,” she said. “I couldn’t even move my hands because they were so sore and achy. I was in so much pain just trying to move or breathe.”
Atteberry went through a four-day period where her fever did not drop below 101. The highest she hit was 104.
For 11 days, Atteberry dealt with COVID-19. She was tested on June 11 and received her positive results on June 15.
Atteberry has since recovered, but she's part of a growing number of younger people who are contracting the new coronavirus in South Carolina.
As of Saturday, there had been a 436.5% increase in newly reported COVID-19 cases among the 21-30 age group since June 1, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The 21-30 age group represents 22% of total confirmed cases in the state, which is the largest percentage by age group.
“No one is immune to this deadly disease,” said DHEC Public Health Director Dr. Joan Duwve in a news release. “But we each have the power to impact the path this pandemic takes in South Carolina. Choosing to wear a mask and maintain physical distance today will not only help change the course of the pandemic in South Carolina, it will help save the lives of those around us.”
The case numbers, not just in South Carolina but across the United States, show Atteberry how far the U.S. is from other countries that have made leaps and bounds in combating the pandemic.
“There is a stark difference between us and other countries,” she said. “We saw other countries completely shut down, close their borders and take this extremely serious. And then when you look at the U.S., the numbers are astronomical.”
Atteberry understands that not everyone's COVID-19 symptoms are the same, but that doesn’t mean that people should take it lightly if they experience little to no symptoms.
“My boyfriend got it right after me and all he really had was a headache for two days and loss of taste and smell,” she said. “He wasn’t truly sick. So, I think that because of how different everyone experiences this, it makes it more difficult for people to understand the seriousness and severity it can have.”
In recent weeks, local governments have approved mask mandates for many public places. While the recent ordinances have been met with some criticism, Atteberry, who works at a restaurant in Myrtle Beach, reiterated the importance that these mandates have in the fight against the coronavirus.
“I wear one at work for nearly eight hours a day, but you can’t wear one for 30 minutes going through the grocery store?” she said. “People believe that it is such an inconvenience, but when you look at what it is doing for people, it’s a bigger issue that you are helping.”