Man who has 'recovered' from COVID-19 explains how its impact goes far beyond death tolls

When we talk about the coronavirus pandemic, we often talk about numbers. How many cases. How many deaths. How many recoveries.

But the true impact of the virus goes far beyond those statistics. We've seen this in harrowing stories from medical workers on the front line and from people who have made it out of hospitalization.

While there's so much we still don't know about COVID-19, as more people recover we get more stories of what the disease can do. We know that it can infect people with no symptoms. We know that it can kill. What we see less often is what it can do to those who get sick but don't die.


Barry Mangione is a pediatric physical therapist who contracted the virus just over a month ago. As a healthy 50-year-old with no underlying health conditions, one might assume he'd weather the illness without too much trouble. But as he described in a Facebook post, this isn't a "get it and get over it" kind of disease for many people who have officially recovered.

Mangione wrote:

COVID19 is a continuum.

I want to hopefully shed some light amid the confusion. There is a continuum of COVID19 in between 'you die' and 'you get over it and return to normal.' Today is day 31 for me. I tested negative on day 27. Yesterday out of nowhere, I was hit with crippling fatigue and chills. My cough is almost gone, and I've been fever-free for two weeks, but when it comes to COVID19, testing negative doesn't mean it's over. For all who talk about wanting it to spread among the healthy to encourage 'herd immunity,' let me ask you: if you get sick with COVID19, how do you know how sick you'll get? I'm a healthy 50 year old with no underlying medical conditions. Those of you who know me know that I am passionately devoted to developing and maintaining mental, physical, and spiritual health.

I'm a pediatric physical therapist. I work in homecare with infants and toddlers. Prior to COVID19, I would travel to people's homes and work with up to ten children a day for 30 minutes each. Prior to COVID19, I struggled with insomnia, but I could still get up after a nearly sleepless night and rock my day job. Now, I can get a full night's sleep and be wiped out after doing a couple of telehealth sessions with kids via Zoom. Let me repeat that. I used to travel to different homes, play with up to ten kids a day, and now some days I'm exhausted after sitting at a desk and talking to parents via a screen.

I talk to other COVID19 survivors who still experience symptoms after 30, even 40 days, symptoms like kidney pain, fevers, coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, circulation problems, loss of smell, loss of taste, body aches, rashes, back pain...

This is not an all-or-nothing virus. It's not 'you die' or 'you don't die.' When we see the numbers of people who've 'recovered from COVID19' posted to illustrate how it's not that bad, those numbers don't take the lingering health issues and symptoms into account.

Please think about this when you question social distancing. Please think about this when you question wearing a mask in public. Ask yourself, 'Can I be sick for over a month or more? Can I deal with the uncertainty of when or if this sickness will go away if I get it?'

I'm not looking for sympathy or trying to scare anyone, and I don't want to diminish the memories of those who've died or the pain felt by their loved ones. I grieve for them all. What I hope I'm doing is giving you another tool in addition to gloves, masks, and social distancing to keep yourselves, your loved ones, and all of us safe and healthy: knowledge that this is real, knowledge that we don't know enough about it yet, and that the continuum of COVID19 is more complicated than dead versus 'recovered.'

Please stay safe, my friends.

Mangione's story is important not just for our understanding of what the virus can look like for those who have "recovered," but also for our understanding of what it might look like if we were to shoot for herd immunity. Despite the much higher death count that would result, it seems that more and more people are leaning toward trying to achieve herd immunity through letting 60% to 80% of the population get infected with the virus instead of waiting a year or more for a vaccine. Some are surprisingly willing to accept more deaths in exchange for saving the economy—but would it actually save the economy? Imagine a large portion of the population getting sick in the way Mangione describes. What would that do to the economy, when millions of people are too sick to work for a month or more? (Though some people will fly through infection without any symptoms, we don't have proof yet that asymptomatic cases will outnumber those who actually do fall ill.)

Until we have a reliable treatment or vaccine, we're going to have to get used to the idea of life not going back to normal. We're either locked down with fewer illnesses and deaths and a choked-off economy, or we're dealing with millions sick and dying and still end up in an economic crisis.

Because we don't yet know the full impact of the virus, and there's no way to predict how it will affect an individual or how many people they might infect if they get it, health experts are not recommending letting the virus run its course through society. It's not as simple as "Eh, I'm not old or immunocompromised, so I'm not worried." Getting sick and getting over it isn't how this is playing out for many people.

As we continue learning more, keep yourself and your community safe and well by continuing to practice social distancing and good hygiene even as things start to "open up." As frustrating as it is, we're not anywhere near out of the woods with this virus.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.