VALDOSTA — Clell Wright makes a living off his voice.
“My life and my work has been as a choral director for 30 some odd years. It’s what I do,” Wright said. “And so my entire career, really my life, has been working with groups of people to make music.”
Wright joins many whose work lives have halted due to social distancing. But these preventive measures did not stop COVID-19 from infecting Wright who became one of Lowndes County’s earliest coronavirus cases.
Now, Wright knows he had been in direct contact with someone who had the virus, but at the time, he was unaware of what he had caught.
He started noticing symptoms on Friday, March 13, while on a school trip to Mobile, Ala., for the American Choral Directors Association conference. He had been there since Wednesday.
2020欧冠名单Friday morning, he woke with a headache, a low-grade fever, runny nose and chills. Thinking it would pass, Wright grabbed a coffee and attended a couple of concerts that morning before he started feeling worse by noon. His once mild symptoms felt like they were worsening and he was developing a cough.
Wright quarantined himself in his hotel room and arranged for a way home. However, by Saturday morning, Wright felt much better, and by Sunday, Wright felt healthy.
2020欧冠名单“I thought it must have just been a cold,” Wright said.
Monday was different, though.
2020欧冠名单His cough and fever returned, and with them, three new symptoms: fatigue, difficulty breathing and turning his head. Wright decided to stay at home and rest a couple of days until Wednesday, March 18, when he learned of the drive-in coronavirus screening facility in Valdosta.
2020欧冠名单Wright described the experience at the screening as “frustrating.”
“I was there for an hour and a half waiting in my car,” he said.
2020欧冠名单When the staff met him for pre-screening, he was told he would likely be tested due to the direct contact. After waiting for more than an hour, he was sent home without a test because his fever wasn’t high enough at the time.
Tests were in short supply.
2020欧冠名单Wright continued to decline until Saturday, March 21, a week after showing symptoms.
“I could hardly breathe. I was coughing constantly,” he said, “It felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath without coughing.”
2020欧冠名单He drove to the ER at about 1 that afternoon.
Light headed and barely breathing, he said to them, “Look, if you don’t get me processed quickly I’m going to be on the floor.”
2020欧冠名单He was taken in, tested for COVID-19 and spent the night. The staff gave him antibiotics.
Wright’s oxygen levels remained low and continued to stay low into the following night. He was given breathing treatments but never needed a ventilator.
2020欧冠名单By Monday afternoon, he had recovered enough to be sent home with an inhaler and some drugs. Two days later, he received word that he tested positive for COVID-19.
“The thing about this virus, I’ve come to find out at least with me, it’s like it comes and goes,” he said.
During the next several days, Wright began to recover almost as quickly as he became ill. His health became a teeter-totter, of sorts.
2020欧冠名单“I felt great. Increasingly better everyday and I thought, ‘OK, the medicine’s working. I’m doing good.’ But then I did what I probably should not have done,” he said. “I thought, ‘Well, I’m feeling fine. I’m going to go work in the yard.’ Big mistake because two days later, I couldn’t breathe again. In fact, I thought I was having a heart attack. My chest hurt so badly and it just burned.”
Today, Wright is still recovering and has a persistent cough.
2020欧冠名单“I don’t know if my experience is anything like anyone else. I think this virus affects people differently but that’s just how it affected me,” he said
Wright, 59, said he’s a healthy person who rarely gets sick.
“I’m in the gym three days a week,” he said. “I’m not overweight at all.”
He lives with his wife and stays social with family via FaceTime and similar platforms.
“Two of my brothers, we like to get together and go to a pub and have a couple of beers,” he said, “So, the other day we did FaceTime with two of them. We all sat around with a beer in our hand and had a little pub time at home.”
2020欧冠名单He and his wife wear face masks in public if they ever need to go out and they have groceries delivered to the house or do curbside pick up.
2020欧冠名单Fortunately for him, he has not lost his job at Valdosta State University as a choral director. Wright said the respiratory illness has not affected his voice but he jokes his “voice was bad to begin with.” The virus did affect his work in another way.
Wright was the lead rehearsal director for the VSU portion of the “Defiant Requiem” concert that was set to perform March 28 but was delayed until next year due to the virus.
He heard the news while attending the conference in Mobile. He was “absolutely devastated.”
2020欧冠名单“We had worked so hard on that work,” he said. “And to have it not happen, it felt like such an exercise in futility.”
2020欧冠名单As a professor, Wright is transitioning to teaching online. He’s found it challenging to plan online classes as he prefers hands-on directing for choirs. His current ensembles receive recordings of pieces online for next semester’s performances so that students can listen and then chat about the pieces in discussion forums in preparation.
2020欧冠名单VSU ensemble students had their semesters end early this spring and were graded based on what they had achieved up until the closing of campus.
This has been difficult for his choirs as well with many of them saying they miss choir more than anything. Wright is an extrovert and has found the social distancing to be the most challenging part of the pandemic
“That’s ultimately what we are about is creating beauty, creating music and working together to be that. And when you take that away then it just becomes an academic process,” he said.
For those that haven’t experienced the virus firsthand, Wright advises people to take this seriously.
“This is real. Stay home,” Wright said, “Stay put. Don’t get out. Do what they ask you to do and we’ll just hope and pray we’ll turn the corner on this.”