Wilton Man Who Was in a Coma After Contracting COVID-19 Appears on the Today Show

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A man from Wilton who was one of the state's first confirmed cases of coronavirus appeared on the Today Show on Saturday to share his experience with the virus that put him in a medically induced coma.

Chris Tillett, of Wilton, was admitted to the hospital In early March.

He likely became infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 during a recent trip to California, according to Governor Ned Lamont.

"I felt like a truck hit me flying home from San Francisco from a conference. And then on Sunday, I had the feeling of, I didn't have a fever yet, but I felt that shortness of breath and I felt the tiredness in my joints. And then on Monday, 102, 101 degree fever hit. So then I had to go to the doctor at that point. I knew something was wrong," Tillett said on the Today Show.

A few days after he first went to the doctor, he said he needed to go to the doctor again because his symptoms hadn't subsided.

"And then basically by Wednesday, we went to the doctor again because again, that fever didn't dissipate and I had the other symptoms still. So it's rare for an adult to have a fever for multiple days so my wife called, got me a chest x-ray. Sure enough, I had pneumonia," Tillett added.

A few days later, Tillett said he ended up at Danbury Hospital, where he was put into a medically induced coma.

"And you know, the doctors are treating it, this is a terrible flu season, so they were treating it like the flu. And then by Friday, I was descended into chaos and then at that point, you see me in the hospital."

Tillett's wife Elizabeth is a registered nurse and said while her husband was in the coma and in the ICU, it was hard because she couldn't be by his side advocating for him and following his plan of care.

"I was home for two weeks with two babies and I couldn't let anyone in the house and you know, there was fear for his life, but there was also fear that I couldn't be there for him how I know how," Elizabeth said. "Every day was just very scary."

Now, Tillett is home and is spending time with his family.

When asked how he is doing now, he said, "I'm feeling much better. And I'm improving every day. I feel great and I'm grateful to be alive."

Tillett also thanked first responders who are on the frontlines dealing with coronavirus.

"Thank you. And to those that were at Danbury Hospital, many of you put your lives at risk to save mine. And I know, you know, when I finally got to the point where I was on a stable floor and didn't need the ICU coming out of the coma and everything, that entire floor was committed as coronavirus. So I was patient one, but by that time, there was many," he said.

Tillett also reminded the first responders to take care of themselves as the outbreak continues.

"And I just want to encourage them to you know, take care of themselves, too. It's going to get a little bit worse before it gets better, but just hang in there. But we, we as our family, really appreciate all of your hard work and if I didn't have a chance to thank you because I was out, I want to thank you now," he said.

"Every 12 hours, I would think of the new nurses and caregivers. We're just forever indebted and they have a lot more work to do going forward," Elizabeth said. "Real heroes," Tillett added.

There are now nearly 1,300 cases of coronavirus across the state including at least 27 deaths.

Coronavirus Symptoms

The key symptoms of the coronavirus, according to the CDC are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Symptoms can appear in infected persons two to 14 days after exposure.

Coronavirus Prevention Steps

Steps for prevention from the CDC include:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
    • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
    • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, such as to the grocery store
    • Coverings should not be placed on children under 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
    • The face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected
    • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a health care worker
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Steps to Self-Monitor for Coronavirus

Steps to self-monitor from the CDC include:

  1. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  2. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
  3. Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  4. Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

If you do get sick with a fever, cough or have trouble breathing, call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room and communicate with your doctor about your recent travel.

  • If you develop symptoms, stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.

The CDC has a special website set up with details about the coronavirus, including how it spreads and treatment.

Anyone with questions relating to coronavirus can call 2-1-1 or text "CTCOVID" to 898211. The 2-1-1 hotline is available 24 hours a day.

You can also visit the state's coronavirus information website here. Residents are encouraged to check the website for answers to questions before calling the hotline.

Learn More About Coronavirus - COVID-19

Learn more here from the state about Coronavirus.

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