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Surviving COVID-19: Teenager Wants Young People To Take Virus Seriously

Since recovering from the virus, Delaney Laing of Safety Harbor has been donating plasma and encourages other COVID-19 survivors to do the same.
Delaney Laing
Since recovering from the virus, Delaney Laing of Safety Harbor has been donating plasma and encourages other COVID-19 survivors to do the same.

"We've already had over 200,000 deaths. I feel like we can't risk having anymore."

More than 750,000 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Florida since March. Health News Florida talked to some of the survivors about what it was like to have the illness and how it's changed their lives.

Today we hear from Delaney Laing, 16, of Safety Harbor.

She didn't have severe symptoms when she was sick in early July, but she still wants young people to know they are not immune from catching the virus and spreading it to their families:

"My dad works in health care. So we were being really like safe about it so that he didn't get it and pass it on to his people [at work].

I was wearing masks everywhere except for dance class and church. I'm pretty sure I got it from church because I got an email the next week saying one of the leaders had tested positive.

I really didn't get that sick, it was just like allergies. I was really congested to the point where I couldn't taste or smell.

My mom, actually, she got it really bad, like almost had to go the hospital. Thankfully, they [her parents] were like, ‘Okay, if she's not better tomorrow, we'll take her.’ And that day she got better.

"Teenagers: it's not a joke."

So I had an altered taste and smell. I still have that, especially with oily foods and fried foods. It smells so gross to me now, and I love fried food.

So that happened, and every time I get my period, I have really bad cramps. It's thankfully gone down, I've started taking vitamin supplements. But I would throw up at the beginning, every single month. It's just not fun.

I have been donating plasma. So one of my really great teachers from my old school, she got it [COVID-19], and she had a plasma treatment. And that was what ended up getting her out of the hospital. So that's why I did it initially.

I had never donated blood or anything before. It's not as bad as I expected it to be. It's just a little bit painful at the beginning. But imagine the people who are on a ventilator in the hospital suffering right now that need that more than you do.

We've already had 200,000 deaths, I feel like we can't risk having anymore. So that's why I'm still wearing a mask. I'm still social distancing, making sure to not go out a whole bunch.

Especially for teenagers, like I'm 16, so teenagers: It's not a joke. Like it's a real thing. And it's still affecting me to this day. I don't want it again. This is not fun.”

This story is produced in partnership with America Amplified, an initiative using community engagement to inform local journalism. It is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.