Nyssa City Manager Jim Maret is sure he came down with the COVID-19 virus in mid-March. He spent almost 30 days recovering from the infection. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

NYSSA – Jim Maret always considered himself a healthy person.

Now, after spending nearly a month recovering from what he believes was the COVID-19 virus, he considers himself lucky.

Maret said he was never tested for the virus but suffered from every symptom of the malady.

“I even got the sores on my toes they talk about,” said Maret.

Dubbed “COVID toes,” some people who get the COVID-19 virus discover lesions on their feet that are described as appearing as if the individual was exposed to extreme cold temperatures.

Maret said he attended a conference in Salem in mid-March and was back in Malheur County March 21 when he began to feel sick.

“It came on slow and I didn’t think much of it,” said Maret. “My neck started hurting really bad. Then I got a headache.”

A fever came on that hovered between 100 and 102.

“I’d take Tylenol and get it back down,” he said.

He visited his doctor, he said, and began a regime of antibiotics. That treatment, he said, did not help.

“It just kept progressing and wouldn’t go away,” he said.

He began to cough, he said, and couldn’t stop.

“I started coughing up blood. You can’t talk. That is how much coughing you do. It feels like you are going to heave your insides out,” he said.

Maret said as the sickness progressed “I was coughing so bad I couldn’t breathe.”

“My chest was killing me. It’s terrible,” he said.

Maret said he stayed in his bedroom, quarantined from his wife, and tried to ride out the virus.

Every day, he said, was worse than the one before. He reached the point where he was forced to sit up to be able to breathe and one night he nearly went to the hospital because he couldn’t catch his breath.

“It was that way, off and on, for 14 days,” he said.

Gradually, he said, he began to feel better.

“But I was so fatigued that to walk from my bedroom to my kitchen and back, I had to stop in the kitchen and rest a little bit,” he said.

He said his recovery took almost a month.

Maret, who is also a reserve officer for the Nyssa Police Department, said he became sick in late March – not long after Gov. Kate Brown issued her stay home, stay healthy, order. In late April, he was able to go back to work on a part-time basis and returned to fulltime duties the first week in May.

Before his illness, he wasn’t convinced the virus was that serious.

Now, he has no doubt.

“It is a lot more serious than people anticipate. I have never been that sick. It is not anything anyone wants. After having it, it is not just like the flu. It is really, really bad,” said Maret.

Even now, he said, he still suffers from the virus.

“If I am out in the sun doing something I fatigue out really easily,” he said.

Maret said he favors a slow pace regarding reopening the county and believes social distancing will be crucial in the future for everyone.

“It (social distancing) works. But I still think we need to move forward,” he said.

Angie Gerrard, communicable disease coordinator for the Malheur County Health Department said while it is difficult to determine if Maret was hit by COVID-19 virus without a test, she believes Maret could have had the respiratory disease.

“His symptoms are certainly very similar to COVID-19,” said Gerrard.

Monday, the Malheur County Health Department reported 21 COVID-19 virus cases and one presumptive case. The department has tested 499 people so far. Maret is not counted among the positive cases.

Malheur County Health Department Director Sarah Poe said research shows “approximately 10 to 20 cases undetected per one positive case.”

“We hope that number would go down as we are able to identify more cases with increased testing,” said Poe.

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