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23-year-old COVID-19 recovery patient shares story to inspire younger population to take precaution

Posted at 5:32 PM, Apr 23, 2020

A 23-year-old is spreading his story to ensure the younger population is taking the proper precautions against COVID-19.

Matt Newey, of Salt Lake City, Utah, says like any twenty-something, he didn’t think much of the virus earlier this year.

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Newey was still hanging out with his friends, taking trips and not practicing social distancing.

This, all before the United States was essentially on lock-down, travel was still permitted and health officials were just beginning the fight against the coronavirus.

“Yeah I’m sure my immune system will just kick it out. When you’re young and healthy you just feel like you’re invincible,” Newey said.

An avid skier and outdoors junkie, in mid-March Newey went on a planned trip to the mountains in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Unfortunately, this was the same time a coronavirus outbreak was announced in the city.

Two days of skiing and Newey and his four friends were forced to head home as the resort closed down out of precaution.

Just days later, Newey says he and his friends fell ill with COVID-like symptoms.

“My friends and I woke up feeling really weird,” Newey said.

He said his head was foggy, he was feeling depressed and didn’t want to get out of bed. It wasn’t typical for the outgoing sportsman.

Luckily, Newey had a previously scheduled doctors appointment that week for a routine check up. There, his physician tested him for a flu test which came back negative.

However, 24 hours later, his doctor called with positive results from a COVID-19 test he was administered at the hospital.

Soon after, he tells ABC Action News he was fatigued, lost his sense of taste and smell. Seven days into contracting the virus, Newey says the symptoms worsened.

“My lungs just contracted and it felt like I was breathing through a straw,” Newey said.

He said he had an asthma attack which he hadn’t experienced since childhood. He began coughing and his lungs felt tight, it was hard to breathe.

Nearly a month later, with the worst of the disease over, Newey says he feels a lot better, his energy is back but he’s still dealing with the loss of his senses.

He’s also interested in getting a chest X-ray when the pandemic calms down so he can see the extent of the damage. Newey says his lungs may be permanently damaged.

As Florida beaches slowly open and other states begin to relax their stay-at-home guidelines, Newey says he has a message for everyone, especially those who think they may not catch COVID-19.

“I understand it’s a hard time to live. It’s hard to stay home and be isolated, it’s lonely," he said.

Newey said he’s extremely social. But says now is not the time to be getting together with friends.

“It’s far more worth it to take every precaution necessary because you don’t ever want to be responsible for hurting yourself or spreading this virus,” he added.

Since Newey was cleared of COVID-19 by his doctor, he’s been giving back to his community. Newey says he’s been running errands for those more vulnerable to the virus and giving plasma in order to help those currently fighting coronavirus.