Recovered COVID-19 Sheriff’s admin donates plasma

WINNSBORO – The Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office administrator who got sick with COVID-19 has recovered, she said – and this week she’s donating her plasma in an effort to help others who are ill with the disease.

“I had a little bit of trouble breathing, mainly taking deep breaths, and I lost my ability to taste and smell for a few days. [With the] fatigue I would sleep for probably 12 hours or more a day,” Terrie Smith said of her experience with the illness. “For probably four or five days it was pretty rough, and then I just started coming out of it.”

Smith, 59, said her best guess is that she and a member of her household were exposed to the virus at an area hospital in early March, where they spent considerable time while her daughter was in labor and giving birth. At the time, COVID-19 wasn’t really on people’s radar yet as a risk.

Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office admin Terrie Smith | Keryn Isenhoward

“It was new. We didn’t know,” she says. “It was all just kind of starting, and they were just starting to take precautions. It was like the next week that they weren’t allowing anybody in the hospital with patients.”

Coincidentally, she said, a few weeks before she came down with COVID19, she contracted pneumonia, suffering for a week with fever and aches. But the cough hung on, and then she found out two and a half weeks later she’d been exposed to someone who tested positive for Covid-19. So she got tested.

Smith said she’s thankful that she only had a mild case and only had a low-grade fever for a little over a week.

“At the time she was diagnosed, there were a lot of unanswered questions. After viewing television news that harped on the deaths and lack of a cure, I decided to turn it off,” she said.

“It seemed worse at the time because [of] just the anxiety and not knowing if you’re going to recover or what to expect,” she said. “There was nothing they could prescribe for you at the doctor’s office…. you’re quarantined for 14 days, and that’s it. Hope for the best.”

Her other worry was that she might have unknowingly infected others. But, as far as she knows, she did not spread the virus to anyone.

“I was so afraid that I’d infected people here at work, at the sheriff’s office,” she says. “I was so afraid everybody was going to come down with it, but thankfully nobody did.”

By the time she was diagnosed, she said. The sheriff’s office staff had done a thorough job disinfecting the office, and that may have helped prevent it from spreading.

Once enough time passed following her recovery, she made an appointment to donate plasma, with hopes of helping those who are seriously ill and hospitalized with the virus on their road to recovery.

“I wish I could’ve done it sooner,” she said. “I’ll definitely give as often as I can, as long as they say this helps people.”

There are still a lot of unknowns about the virus, Smith said, including whether there are long-term effects and whether a person can get sick with it more than once. She hopes people will follow the advice to practice social distancing, wear a mask to try to help prevent the spread.

“The person that I feel like I got it from did not know that they had it, so the thing of it is that you could be a carrier and not have any symptoms… so if I [a person who could unknowingly be infected] choose not to wear a mask and not do the social distancing, then shame on me,” she says.

“I feel like we should do that to protect our elderly population, to protect people who are sick and their immune system is low… so if you aren’t going to do it to protect yourself, at least do it for others.”