'I was just gasping for breath:' Tampa woman shares terrifying experience with COVID-19

Posted at 6:07 AM, May 18, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa woman is working to share how serious the COVID-19 virus can be with the Tampa Bay area community after experiencing it first hand.

She's urging families to remain vigilant as Florida enters a Full Phase 1 reopening starting Monday, May 18.

"It felt like a cement block was just sitting on my chest," said Jessica Kelley, who just recovered from COVID-19 a few weeks ago.

At first, the otherwise healthy 39-year-old believed her symptoms were the result of asthma.

But soon, her fever spiked and she was unable to walk from her living room to the bedroom.

"I would take four or five steps, and I would have to stop, and I would lean against the wall," she said. "And I was just gasping for breath."

Her symptoms worsened, and her fever lasted more than a month, ranging from 99 degrees to as high as 102 degrees.

She is now urging people to keep taking safety measures seriously when it comes to Florida's reopening.

"Wear a mask, practice social distancing," she said.

Kelley took to Facebook to talk about her experience with COVID-19. She was never hospitalized but said this was still terrifying for herself and her family.

"I would ask people and tell them, take it seriously," she said. "You'll save somebody from having to send a message to their sister to make sure that she's on board with funeral plans."

Kelley's husband has cancer and an immune disorder. She said she feels lucky he never contracted the virus.

Kelley was able to donate her plasma once she tested negative. She is now hoping she can help someone else survive the virus.