Life in the Time of Coronavirus

I Had the Coronavirus, but I Never Got a Fever

This twentysomething health care worker got sick without the one key symptom everyone says to look for

Garance Franke-Ruta
Published in
8 min readApr 9, 2020
A photo illustration of a face mask and thermometer against a background of coronavirus particles.
Photo illustration. Image sources: peng song/Getty Images, 4x-image/Getty Images

Life in the Time of the Coronavirus is a GEN series where we are interviewing people across the country who have had their lives upended or are experiencing the stress of the unknown.

Isabel Simon is a 24-year-old dialysis technician who was living in Lynn, Massachusetts and working in Brookline when she got sick. She is also my second cousin. This is her experience of what it was like to have mild Covid-19.

I’I’m not positive on the exact date it started, but I’m pretty sure it was either March 9 or 10. I spoke to my father and mentioned that I felt like I had a cold. At that point, the media was saying cold-like symptoms weren’t really what people were experiencing with the coronavirus, so I thought I just had another cold. There are still tons of viruses going around; this is not the only one.

My nose wasn’t necessarily running, but I was definitely congested and generally feeling kind of foggy. I probably had a bit of an itchy throat and felt slightly lethargic. I don’t think I was sneezing. On that Thursday, I went to work and really started to feel not okay.

I went home early. I started feeling really lethargic and fatigued. It felt like a bad cold at that point. I didn’t have a fever. We were diligent about taking temperatures of all the patients and staff, even at that point in early March. I didn’t have body aches or anything like that. I was coughing and just felt really run down.

I had the next three days off. On Monday, March 16, I was feeling better, so I went into work. At this point, I still thought it was just a cold. Even at work, they were saying, “Well, you don’t have a fever, you don’t have this, you don’t have that.” So, I thought, “Oh, I don’t have the coronavirus.” I hadn’t been in contact…



Garance Franke-Ruta
Writer for

Executive Editor, GEN by Medium. Previously: Yahoo News, The Atlantic, The Washington Post. garance-at-medium-dot-com.