BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson says he is “feeling 100 percent” and has recovered from the COVID-19 sickness that prevented him from working for two weeks.
Wilson was among the first public figures in Louisiana to be diagnosed with the new coronavirus. Gov. John Bel Edwards announced he was working again during a press conference last week.
“It was a much longer ordeal than I thought it would be,” Wilson said in an interview with WAFB Sunday, April 5. “We self-quarantined in the home with my wife and my son, and it’s an ordeal. It’s not as easy as people think it is, but it is absolutely essential for us to control the spread of [the virus].”
Wilson says he lost between 12 and 15 pounds fighting a 102-degree fever during the peak of his sickness. He began his self-quarantine the day before he was supposed to present DOTD’s budget request to the House Appropriations Committee. Lawmakers temporarily adjourned session later that day.
“Your initial reaction is, ‘Oh, I can beat this. It’s just a common cold,’ until you get the sore throat and the fever,” Wilson said. “You feel the real extension of the virus in terms of your tiredness and your energy level. You lose your appetite.”
Wilson says he does not have any underlying health conditions. It is all but impossible to tell where he got the virus because he met with roughly 3,000 people in the two weeks prior to becoming symptomatic, he and a state health investigator determined.
“The world of social distancing is totally different,” he said. “We were brought up as Christians - as people - that touch is important. You need to hug people, shake hands, be close and cordial. That’s not necessarily the case with COVID-19.”
Wilson attributes the pace of his recovery to good health, noting that it made a “world of difference” to rest and do nothing. He said he hopes Louisianans will be encouraged to enjoy healthier lifestyles after the pandemic slows.
“The most encouraging thing I can tell you is that we’re still a state where people care about their neighbors,” said Wilson. “People still pray for each other. They pray for themselves. Faith is a big part of this.”
Wilson says he expects to work as he normally would this week, including daily meetings with Edwards’ cabinet and the Unified Command Group, which determines how the state will handle the virus’s spread.
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