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COVID-19 survivor speaks about his experience with the deadly illness

Joel Clark says that he contracted COVID-19 after picking up his step-father-in-law from a local rehabilitation facility.

Posted: Dec 1, 2020 6:08 PM
Updated: Dec 2, 2020 6:59 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- A Gold Hill man says he contracted coronavirus after picking up his step-father-in-law from Avamere Three Fountains in Medford.

Joel Clark's 90-year-old step-father-in-law Melvin Olson, who lives in Prineville, Oregon was in a car accident on Highway 62 near Prospect. He was transported to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center Emergency where he learned that he had two fractured ribs and a fractured wrist. The doctors were concerned that once released from the hospital he would need rehab for his ribs in order to avoid pneumonia.

On October 20, Olson was transferred to Avamere at Three Fountains for rehab. Clark was told Olson would be in quarantine for 14 days to avoid bringing COVID-19 into the facility.


RELATED: Gold Hill family addresses concerns about Avamere COVID-19 outbreak


Three days later, Clark was informed that two staff at Avamere had tested positive for COVID-19, and as a result Melvin would be "isolated" and tested for COVID-19 and would keep family informed if the test was positive.

Clark says he was given no additional information related to COVID-19 by Avamere during Olson's stay.

On November 2, Avamere contacted Clark for Olson's pick-up scheduled for November 5. Clark said no mention of COVID was made.

"We assumed when he was released that we didn't have to worry about masks and we spent quite a bit of time with him," said Clark. A short time later, he came down with the virus, his first symptom being a fever.

Clark spent ten days at Providence Medford Medical Center — three of them in the Intensive Care Unit — and he does not think he would be alive without the efforts of the medical staff. He said, "they have converted whole hallways to be used for COVID patients."

Clark was able to return home in time for Thanksgiving. He and Olson are now recovering from from their illness.

During his stay at Providence, Clark says because he was so well taken care of in the hospital, his faith in the community has been restored. He emphasized his gratitude for Providence staff calling them "real angels".

Though he says he feels himself improving, Clark is using an oxygen source to assist with breathing. He said severe pneumonia can be caused by the virus, which is an infection filling the lungs with liquid making it difficult to breathe. Keeping a person on oxygen long enough at the hospital, is what Clark says, helps you "fight it off".

Clark said he was surprised by how quickly the virus can progress. He said, "I went from being able to walk around with only a little loss of breath to lying on my back desperately fighting for air in a matter of eight hours...if you have COVID and you're day, 5,6,7,8 with symptoms and you find that you have a cough or wheezing or getting up and walking a hundred feet makes you a little extra tired, if you walk a little slower, get to a hospital immediately because you could be dead in 2 days."

Clark expressed his gratitude again for those on the front lines saying, "they risk their lives everyday to save us."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 352026

Reported Deaths: 4185
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55306692
Washington38321316
Marion36352445
Clackamas29350304
Lane27309299
Jackson22783304
Deschutes19886124
Umatilla14286144
Linn12617120
Douglas11918241
Josephine9292195
Yamhill8584111
Klamath7765111
Polk719680
Malheur552774
Benton537630
Coos492593
Columbia375743
Jefferson366351
Union316247
Lincoln313338
Wasco282640
Crook277646
Clatsop240729
Baker199228
Tillamook194929
Hood River190137
Morrow183023
Curry178723
Harney110225
Grant98012
Lake89711
Wallowa67312
Gilliam1494
Sherman1463
Wheeler1031
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4825708

Reported Deaths: 70829
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147768626443
Riverside3704095008
San Diego3649124169
San Bernardino3574215597
Orange3234075528
Sacramento1584372283
Fresno1451192063
Santa Clara1450041895
Kern1449141615
Alameda1202831381
San Joaquin1022501721
Ventura1008011165
Contra Costa99612995
Stanislaus856421319
Tulare79513958
San Francisco54220644
San Mateo53970622
Monterey50772583
Solano45898340
Santa Barbara45005522
Merced42047579
Sonoma40822402
Placer39118420
Imperial35794764
Kings32587315
San Luis Obispo29797331
Madera23680281
Butte23649265
Shasta23544341
Santa Cruz20928218
Yolo20240248
Marin17644243
El Dorado17083149
Sutter13847172
Napa12855100
Yuba1000882
Tehama9406107
Humboldt9171108
Nevada909490
Mendocino757686
Lassen749946
San Benito741372
Tuolumne680893
Lake6565104
Amador540364
Siskiyou445842
Glenn433632
Calaveras385180
Del Norte357141
Colusa302818
Inyo203540
Mono16565
Plumas16046
Mariposa130815
Trinity86711
Modoc6758
Unassigned1820
Sierra1810
Alpine1030
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