Screenshot of Darrah Isaacson from OHA Youtube livestream

During a press conference held by Governor Kate Brown on Friday December 11, Brown was joined by the usual public health officials that lead the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, and special guest Darrah Isaacson, a COVID-19 survivor who said she grew up in Gales Creek. 

Isaacson recounted her journey during and after contracting COVID-19, and noted that she still suffers serious and debilitating symptoms from the disease nearly 10 months after being diagnosed with the disease.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the Oregon Health Authority's state epidemiologist, said that the numbers were still climbing as of Friday.

“Today, we’ll cross the threshold of 90,000 total cases by adding 1611 new diagnosed and presumed cases,” he said. “Last Friday, we surpassed 1,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic in Oregon. On Tuesday, we surpassed 1,100. As of today, the statewide COVID-19 associated death toll is 1138."

“I’m a native Oregonian, I grew up in Gales Creek,” Isaacson said, and outlined her journey since contracting the disease early in the course of the pandemic. 

“I turned 40 on March second, and unfortunately was unable to celebrate or enjoy my mom’s cheesecake she had made for me, because I was in bed with a wracking cough, terrible body aches, unrelenting headache, 102.7 fever, and extreme fatigue,” she said. Her symptoms were so severe that she does not remember many of the days that she was initially ill. 

“Little did I know, I would still be sick almost 10 months later, and with more symptoms than my initial infection. I’m a COVID long hauler, and there are thousands of us across the country dealing with debilitating, long-term, chronic, possibly lifelong symptoms due to COVID.”

Isaacson noted that she and many others living with the aftermath of the disease in the long-term were healthy and active before becoming ill. She and her family are active hikers, bikers, campers and canoers. 

“We didn’t do any of that this summer, because I can barely walk around the block now, 10 months after my initial infection. I know many people, especially younger people, feel that this virus is not a threat to them, or that the risk of catching it is low. Many think it’s not worth the precautions, the masking, the distancing, the social isolation that some of this has caused. Some people think that this is just like the flu,” Isaacson said. “I can tell you from personal and horrible experience that that way of thinking is extremely dangerous. This is an unpredictable and terrifying disease.”