For the media

A doctor’s journey through COVID-19

By The Health News Team | May 27, 2020
A doctor’s journey through COVID-19

Dr. Andrew Brown, a family medicine doctor in La Mesa, experienced COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, for three weeks.

It’s a medical condition he never expected to witness, let alone experience firsthand.

Dr. Andrew Brown, a family medicine doctor affiliated with Sharp Community Medical Group, speaks openly about his three-week experience with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Moderate symptoms, but serious concern
Dr. Brown’s initial symptoms were about three days of a vague, mild headache and mild shortness of breath that even he didn't attribute to COVID-19. It all started Monday, March 30 with a headache. By Tuesday, he had a fever and by Friday, April 3, his doctor’s office confirmed he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“My worst symptoms were headaches, but I did experience fever as well,” says Dr. Brown. “I still have no idea where I contracted the virus, but my immediate concern was for the health and well-being of my family.”

At the onset of the pandemic, Dr. Brown’s office adopted all safety measures, which included himself and staff wearing masks. The few patients that he had seen prior to testing were contacted, alerting them of their possible exposure and advising them to be tested if they had symptoms and, of course, to call his office with concerns.

A clinical trial helps pave the road to recovery
Dr. Brown researched, applied and was accepted to a medical study overseen by the University of Minnesota. For five days, he took the highly controversial medicine hydroxychloroquine — traditionally prescribed to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The studies for its effectiveness in the treatment of COVID-19 have since been suspended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In roughly two to three days after taking the oral medication, in addition to other treatment measures, Dr. Brown says he started feeling better. And after a short relapse on day eight, his health continued to improve and continues to do so today.

“Thankfully, my partner never contracted the virus,” he added. “We practiced self-isolation and used separate bathrooms and bedrooms. We wore masks inside our home and practiced social distancing.”

Dr. Brown notes that the adage “mom knows best” rings true in his case. His mom sent homemade masks to help him stay protected and jigsaw puzzles to occupy his time.

Although he has been tested for antibodies as part of a local study, Dr. Brown cautions that these tests are not yet 100% accurate. They are not completely quality-controlled and may yield false positives. “There is just not enough solid information to equate antibodies to immunity,” he says. He also tried to donate plasma but was unable to because his blood was too coagulated to be drawn. He plans to try again.

Now recovered, Dr. Brown offers some advice. He stresses the importance of connections; reach out to friends and family, because your — and their — emotional well-being is important. He also believes in the importance of sunshine. “Don’t forget to get outside and get some vitamin D, which is underrated and important,” he says. “But please don’t forget to wear sunscreen.”

He also wants to emphasize that many people who contract the illness will have a mild course with either no symptoms or mild or vague symptoms, at least initially. This is worrisome because people who feel they don't have any symptoms or are “feeling well” may be lax about wearing masks and other safety precautions because they believe they are not an infection risk to others. He says that this is not necessarily true and everyone at all times outside of their home should be following the rules for the protection of others as much as themselves.

Now extra cautious after having COVID-19, Dr. Brown appreciates that the reopening phases are taking place at a slow rate. He says, undoubtedly, it will be beneficial to our community’s mental health as well. He adds that while social distancing and face coverings are physical reminders that we have a long way to go, he is optimistic that locally and globally, we will continue to meet the challenges that COVID-19 presents until scientists find the solution to this pandemic.

For the news media: To talk with Dr. Brown about his experience with COVID-19 for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at

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