First Colorado coronavirus patient to share diagnosis, reflects on one-year anniversary of pandemic

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — We are marking one year of COVID in Colorado by speaking to the first person in our state who put a public face with a positive test and took us along on her journey.

FOX31’s Nicole Fierro introduced viewers to Crested Butte advanced nurse Lisa Merck virtually a year ago. This week, they met face-to-face to discuss all that’s happened in the past 365 days.

Merck first spoke to FOX31 when toilet paper was a hot hoarded commodity and we couldn’t understand why. Viewers had the chance to ask her if all that paper was really necessary because she was the first patient to open up and tell us what this virus was really like firsthand. Little did she know then the impact it would have on her life.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind of a year,” Merck said. 

From March 8th to May 4th, Merck endured 17 nasal swabs.

“I’d have a positive, then a negative then a positive or an indeterminate,” she said. 

Merck said it took 58 days in isolation to technically beat COVID-19 on paper. However, her symptoms lingered for months.

“I’m going to say 9 to 10 months until I felt truly 100 percent again.”

Living in a rural part of Colorado with less access to resources had a big impact on Merck’s journey with this virus and her comfort returning back into the community. 

“I did research I opened a Telehealth practice just so I could continue taking care of my patients, I revamped my entire clinic,” she said. “I didn’t go back for almost a year because I was really scared of getting re-infected because there’s so many unknowns out there.”

Unknowns still continue in this evolving pandemic, but Merck was part of a major turning point a year ago helping normalize transparency in people’s personal experiences with this virus.

“There was some people along the way that weren’t very nice about it but it was few and far between,” she said, adding “Most of them were very grateful they felt really more relaxed, and they knew a little bit of what to expect, the symptoms they got, so i’m happy I did it.”

Merck is also extremely happy that she received two COVID-19 vaccinations in December. She credits her vaccines for feeling comfortable enough to safely reopen the doors to her in-person clinic almost a year later in February of 2021. 

“I felt a big sense of relief, so I feel very confident now going back in the clinic, especially with all the research they are doing and knowing some of the different strains are covered.”

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