‘Just a minor cough’

Physician shares perspective on her COVID journey

— Submitted photos Dr. Betsy Hoover, a 2008 Webster City High School graduate, is finishing up her OB/GYN residency at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Last fall, she tested positive for COVID-19 after the sudden onset of a nagging cough.

No two COVID-19 experiences are alike.

Some people may experience only mild flu-like symptoms. For others, it can be a life-threatening situation requiring a stay in an intensive care unit.

For one Webster City native, now a physician, it started off with the sudden onset of a cough.

Just before Thanksgiving, Dr. Betsy Hoover developed a minor cough. Hoover, a 2008 Webster City High School graduate and a 2017 graduate of the University of Iowa Medical School, is currently finishing up her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

“I wouldn’t normally have thought much about it, but it came on very suddenly. Our hospital program directors were adamant that if we had any symptoms we should go home right away and get tested,” she said.

Dr. Betsy Hoover receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the hospital where she works. She urged everyone to consider getting the vaccine when they are eligible and to also continue wearing a mask and maintaining social distances.

When the pandemic hit, Hoover said she observed all of the protocols put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — both in her professional life and in her personal life.

“I was very careful. I didn’t go out to eat in restaurants, or travel or anything of that nature,” she said.

Hoover is unsure where she contracted COVID-19, but thinks it may have been in the workplace as several of her co-workers and co-residents also tested positive.

She took a rapid PCR test the day she developed the cough and later that day, the test came back positive.

“I was absolutely shocked. I didn’t have a fever, I didn’t have any real symptoms other than the mild cough. I really only tested out of an abundance of caution,” Hoover said.

She followed the CDC recommendations and quarantined at home for 10 days. During her quarantine, her cough worsened and she developed some muscle aches and chest tightness, but never had a fever.

“There really never were any abnormalities in my vital signs or shortness of breath that required me to go to the hospital,” she said.

She did lose her sense of smell and her sense of taste was altered for a time.

She was technically able to return to work after the 10-day quarantine, but the persistent cough kept her home for the better part of three weeks.

Hoover said the only lingering effect of her illness was fatigue, especially fatigue with exertion. That condition lasted about a month after the other symptoms subsided.

“That really continued through the first of the year,” she said. “It was never severe and I feel like I’ve fully recovered at this point,” the doctor said.

Hoover was able to receive her vaccine through the hospital. She said that even those who had recovered from COVID were receiving the shots.

“We don’t know how long your natural immunity to the virus will last,” she said. “Of course, we’re not sure how long the vaccine will last either.”

Hoover said based on her experience working with patients who have been hospitalized with COVID, the virus should not be taken lightly.

“You may have mild symptoms, or even be asymptomatic with your COVID, but you will not be able to predict whether you will be one of those people who have more severe symptoms or who may require ICU admission,” she said. “And we don’t know what the long term effects will be.”

She said the COVID conditions in Florida are starting to stabilize with a down-turn in the number of cases as the number people vaccinated continues to climb. But she urged people to not let their guard down now.

“It’s certainly still with us, because we’re still seeing new infections and hospitalizations,” she said. “So precautions still need to be taken.”

Hoover strongly encouraged people to consider getting the vaccine whenever they are eligible to do so.

“I would encourage them to have a conversation with their health care provider about the risks and benefits of vaccinations for them specifically,” she said. The doctor said it was important to continue wearing masks and socially distancing until the country reaches the level of vaccination to prevent continued transmission.

“I think it’s vital that we continue these measures,” she said.

Call 211

Iowans can call the state’s 211 hotline (dial 211 from any telephone) to speak with a vaccine navigator for help finding and scheduling a vaccine appointment. The call center is available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.

State officials said that the hotline is only available to Iowans 65 and older in need of assistance. That includes those who don’t have internet access, have difficulty using technology and don’t have anyone to help them find an appointment.


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