'I Had Never Felt This Sick In My Life' Says COVID-19 Survivor In Las Vegas

May 2, 2020

Coverage of novel coronavirus is supported by the Mick Hitchcock, Ph.D., Project for Visualizing Science, a science reporting project from the Reynolds School of Journalism.

In early March, Nevadan make-up artist Ish Bermudez was touring with the show Chippendales Las Vegas across the country as a wardrobe manager. He began not feeling well while he was still on the road traveling in New York, Ohio and Indiana. He sought care at an urgent care facility, where he was given some pain medication, but a COVID-19 test wasn’t available.

“They checked my vitals and they told me we don't do testing here and they ended up just releasing me,” Bermudez said. 

At this point, Bermudez believed he had a cold or flu. When the show was canceled, Bermudez took a flight home from Indianapolis to Las Vegas on March 13.

“I was in so much body pain, just everything was hurting,” Bermudez explained, “and the only thing that helped me get through that flight was Tylenol.”

He said he wore a mask on the flight and felt better when he arrived home in Las Vegas, but that didn’t last.

“So, a couple of days later, my fever was just--every day I have [a] fever. The cough was uncontrollable. It was just one after the other where I couldn’t control it anymore,” Bermudez said. “At this point, it was not like the flu. It scared me because I knew this wasn't normal.”

He sought care at a hospital emergency room and received a COVID-19 test. He was instructed to self-isolate and await his results. He lives alone. During this time, Bermudez said his condition worsened and he eventually sought medical care at the ER again.

“I was hospitalized and they basically took me in and said, ‘We're treating you as a COVID-19 [patient].' They isolated me from other patients. The first night that I was in there, they gave me oxygen,” Bermudez said. “That was probably the best night that I've had in days because I was able to sleep comfortably and I was able to breathe again.”

His condition began to improve during his time in the hospital and he was discharged after three nights. Bermudez said he received a call from the Southern Nevada Health District with confirmation that he tested positive for COVID-19 several days after his hospital discharge.

Bermudez is in his late thirties and has no underlying health conditions.

“I just want people to realize that [there are] people that are in the hospitals, and going through this is not something that they should take lightly,” Bermudez said. “I felt like I wasn't going to make it. I had never felt this sick in my entire life.”

Bermudez says he’s sharing his story so that others can understand that COVID-19 can be serious for some.