WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WECT) - Dale Folwell, the State Treasurer of North Carolina, says he is about 75-80 percent recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus responsible for tens of thousands of deaths around the world. The disease put Folwell in the hospital for five days last month with extreme breathing difficulties.
“They were very, very intense,” is how Folwell describes his symptoms he experienced in the hospital. “I focused on my breathing, smelling roses and blowing out candles. The reason that is so important is that there is a battle going on in your lungs when you have COVID-19, between the virus and your immune system. The more good oxygen you can get inside your lungs, the more the good guys are going to win.”
Folwell was tested for the coronavirus on March 23, about a week after returning home from travelling with his son in Utah. He received notification the next evening that the test returned positive for COVID-19, and he began quarantining himself at home. When his oxygen levels began to worsen the following Sunday, March 29, Folwell’s wife Synthia drove him to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where he received treatment.
“Pretty soon after I arrived they gave me the cocktail that you’ve been hearing about from the President (Trump), Doctor Oz and many other medical people from across the country, with the chloroquine and antibiotic,” Folwell says. “What was happening is my oxygen levels were falling and pretty soon after that my oxygen levels started going up. So, they were reducing my oxygen intake, and the oxygen levels were going up. That was a signal to them that what they were doing was working.”
Folwell, 61, says he has no underlying health condition that would make him more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. He believes he contracted the virus when he returned to Raleigh following his travel out west. So far no other members of his family have tested positive. Folwell says his wife has shown symptoms, but is doing quite well. Folwell is taking part in conference calls and conducting some job duties from home and keeping an eye on how the volatile stock market is impacting the State Employees’ Pension Plan administered by his office.
“The conservative nature of the pension plan that so many of your listeners depend on, even though the market in some cases is down more than twenty percent, our plan is down just a little over six (percent),” Folwell says. “It continues to be one of the most conservatively managed plans in the United States, if not the world. I would say there are some public pension plans from around the world, especially in the United States, that are not going to survive this.”
Folwell did not say when he might be able to get back to work full-time. He still does daily breathing exercises to increase the strength in his lungs and is getting more sleep than usual. Folwell says people who are not taking the virus pandemic seriously should closely follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding social distancing, handwashing and other measures to keep from contracting the virus. To patients who test positive, Folwell passed along advice that he says got him through the toughest days in a hospital bed.
“At the highest levels of intensity of this disease that I faced over a week ago, focus on the fact that there’s people that love you, you have a lot to do for the rest of your life and a lot to look forward to,” he said. “Just focused on the positiveness of those three things is highly important, and prayer. Not just in the normal course of business of how we use that word. But, intense prayer that you’ve never experienced in your life, is what got me out of the hospital and on the road to recovery.”