COVID-19 Case In Bozeman Highlights Need For Social Distancing

Mar 31, 2020

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb in Montana, but with limited test kits, not all patients with symptoms are tested and included in the state count.

Allison Brown was never tested for the COVID-19 illness caused by the novel coronavirus and is recovering from a suspected case in Bozeman.

“I didn’t check a lot of those boxes to say, 'Hey, yeah, this person needs to get the nose swab,'” Brown says.

Her doctor said Brown has a suspected case, but because she didn’t have a fever over 100.4 degrees, she didn’t need a test.

On Mar. 31, Gov. Steve Bullock told reporters nobody has been turned away because of a shortage of test kits. But he’s voiced concerns over the availability of testing materials. Tests are only ordered for people who are showing symptoms and fall into "at risk" categories. Not everyone who requests a test will get one.

Brown says she knew whatever was making her sick wasn’t a normal cold or flu.

“It kind of feels like your lungs have compression socks on them, or if you do resistant workouts, you kind of know how those rubbery resistance bands feel. It kind of feels like your lungs are wrapped in them. It’s uncomfortable to try to take a full breath, and it can be really sore,” Brown says.

The 33-year-old digital marketing specialist at Montana State University says she noticed a change about a week ago. She was getting winded when walking her dog. At first she thought it was her asthma or allergies acting up.

"But then a day after that walk, it wouldn’t leave. And I haven’t used my inhaler in a good two and a half, three years, and I had to start using my inhaler to make my chest stop hurting. That’s when I was kind of like, ‘Oh, something might be a little strange,’” Brown says.

By that afternoon, Brown says she couldn’t get warm and slept for the next 24 hours. Over the next couple of days she says she had a headache and sore muscles. But the thing that really stood out to her was the feeling in her chest.

Brown says she felt tired all the time.

“This weekend as I was on the up and up, and I would be like, OK, you know, what usually what makes me feel better after a cold is instead of schlubbing around in my pajamas, take a shower, change your sheets so they don’t feel so yucky. And even after that it was like ‘Oh! Gotta take a nap now,’” Brown says.

Brown says as someone with a history of asthma, lung restriction isn’t a completely foreign sensation, but she says she can see how scary it would be for someone who’s not used to that or for someone with a more severe case who needs a ventilator to breathe.

“Even though I thought I was washing my hands enough and cleaning enough, I still managed to get it. It’s just a sneaky, sneaky little virus,” Brown says.

Brown says be kind to yourself if you get it and take social distancing seriously to slow down the spread.

Brown says she’s not sure where she picked up the virus. Gallatin County health officials say it’s spreading in the community.