On April 5, Joshua Kuntzman, who lives in downtown Santa Barbara and works as an assessment coordinator with UCSB, posted a YouTube video about his infection and recovery from COVID-19. In it, he describes his symptoms and gives advice for others who contract the virus.
At first, he says, his throat felt sore and tight. Then he developed a fever and flu-like symptoms, and eventually, the shortness of breath and dry cough that has come to characterize this virus. The video manages to be both serious and humorous with clips from Key & Peele’s comedy act about two women who attempt to exorcise the devil, in much the same way he’s tried to exorcise COVID-19.
When did you know you had contracted COVID-19? What was the process of getting diagnosed like? I went on a date on March 10. She told me she was sick, but we decided to kiss anyway. I woke up the next day with a sore throat. I was diagnosed by a doctor at Cottage Hospital on March 15. When I arrived, they asked me to wait outside. They gave me a face mask and had me sit on a bench on the other side of the parking lot. When they were ready to see me, they called me over. I sat down on a freshly disinfected seat, and a very nice doctor wearing a mask asked me about the progress of my symptoms. He said, “I’m not going to test you, but you have all the symptoms,” so he diagnosed me with COVID-19. His advice for me was to keep my hands clean, my mouth covered, and to self-isolate.
When your date told you she was sick, were you worried it might be COVID-19? I wasn’t worried at all. At that time, this thing was really just sort of whispers in Santa Barbara. There were no confirmed cases here. She said she had a cold and her symptoms didn’t match COVID-19 (no fever or dry cough), so it didn’t even cross my mind.
How is she doing? She went on to develop all the same symptoms as me and is also doing better now, recovering at home.
Why did you wait two weeks to create and share the video about your diagnosis? Did you fear ostracism? I waited because I wasn’t confident that I had it until the symptoms progressed, and then I was busy being sick. I did tell everyone I had been in contact with. After I let people know, friends brought food over and sent me messages. It made me feel loved and cared for.
Some medical professionals are injecting the antibodies from people who have recovered from the virus into patients who are faring poorly. Would you donate your blood for that purpose? Yeah, I’m going to look into how to do that.
I noticed on your Facebook page that a lot of people are praying for you. My hippie friends are sending me good vibes, and my religious family in Texas and Iowa are sending me prayers. Both of them are expressing their care for me, and I appreciate it.
Are you worried that you gave the virus to anyone? I hope I didn’t get anyone sick, but it’s super contagious. So there’s a chance I breathed on someone and now they have it. There was a day when I was on campus with a bunch of faculty in a room. Part of me wishes I had stayed home that day. If I could go back and change that, I would. Having now had the virus, I now know how serious it is. I wish I would have started wearing a face mask sooner. None of the people I’ve been in contact with have told me they’ve developed symptoms.
Have you experienced any unexpectedly good outcomes from contracting COVID-19? I’ve been able to use my skills as an educator to share my first-person perspective. Many people have reached out to me to tell me that the video I made has helped them, and that means the world to me.
Did you ever worry about dying? I thought that there was a possibility it could become really acute really quickly, and I could die. But I never had to be hospitalized or intubated. If I had been, I would have been very worried, but it never got to that point.
Is there anything else you want to share? I look forward to being able to hug people again.
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