A professor at Kansas State University is in intensive care with COVID-19 after taking students on a spring break trip to London, but says he’s “fighting hard” to recover from the debilitating virus.
Andrew Smith, who teaches journalism and mass communications, detailed the symptoms he and his family were battling Sunday since returning from overseas earlier this month: high fevers, chest pressure, extreme fatigue and a lack of concentration.
“My fever’s been spiking at 103 and they’ve been trying and struggling hard to keep that at least under control to let me heal a little bit and try to get better in that fashion,” Smith said while hooked up to oxygen in a Facebook video from his hospital bed in Manhattan, Kansas. “Those things are all parts of this illness.”
Smith has been diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia in addition to coronavirus after traveling with several K-State students during the trip. The professor said the group did everything they could to avoid people during their return home.
“We did not stop anywhere, we did not stop at restaurants,” Smith said. “We got off the plane, into a waiting car. And I’ve only been to the emergency room and the ICU, and that’s it.”
Health officials in Kansas confirmed Saturday that Riley County had identified its first case of COVID-19, the Wichita Eagle reports. Smith’s wife later identified him on Facebook as that patient, saying his condition was “not improving” while hospitalized.
“When we left on March 4th there were only a few cases in the US and the UK,” wife J.A. Smith wrote on Facebook. “While abroad we took the same precautions as everyone. We did not see a single medical [professional] on our travel home from London.”
Smith’s wife said she’s convinced that she and the couple’s two children also have COVID-19, but only his sample was analyzed by health officials, she said.
“I am fine,” her post continued. “Abby and Aubri are fine. “Andrew is not. Andrew works out every day, eats well and is in generally FANTASTIC health. This virus is selective and none know who the next victim will be.”
While Smith’s short-term outlook is unclear, he thanked people for the “outpouring of love and concern” he’s received since being diagnosed.
“The prognosis is ongoing,” he said. “The goal is to get myself out of intensive care and then when that happens, move to the next step. So that’s what we’re working toward, and I’m fighting hard. I’m a fighter and so is my wife, Jen and my two kids are fighting through as well.”