Crested Butte COVID-19 patient leaves isolation for retest, plans to use firsthand experience to help others

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CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. (KDVR) — From diagnosis to symptoms and now the end of recovery, Lisa Merck is the first COVID-19 patient to bravely bring FOX31 and Channel 2 along through this trying journey. It’s one that’s going to change Merck’s life even after she is cleared of the virus.

After 16 days of isolation, the Crested Butte resident left her home to get retested for the virus and virtually brought FOX31 along for the ride. 

Merck’s husband graciously took hold of the camera to show us the drive-thru process as Lisa took her second of three COVID-19 tests. 

“Still four to six days, right?” Merck asked the health care professional. “So, just isolation until I get my results back again?”

“Unfortunately, right,” the health care provider answered. 

State guidelines say the average person just needs to wait seven days and no retest is needed. However, Merck is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards because she’s a health care provider.

FOX31 asked if it has been difficult gaining access to retests.

“For me, it’s been OK because I’m a health care provider and I think they want to protect us,” Merck said. “But I’ve had a lot of friends in the community that are like, ‘Lisa, I cannot get tested. Why can’t I get tested? I want to know if I have the virus.'”

For those who can’t get a test yet or don’t think they’re at risk, Merck hopes her long journey with COVID-19 stresses the importance of staying home and heeding the warnings.

Merck said she has had symptoms for more than a month and they only recently started to subside.

“One day you would feel good and the other day you wouldn’t. I was nauseous, I had anxiety, there was just so many different symptoms.”

Next week, Merck will start helping others treat these symptoms virtually. She’s starting her own telemedicine clinic and working for the Grand Junction VA’s telemedicine clinic too. 

“I feel like my job and mission right now is to help educate the public and help protect the health care providers,” Merck said. 

Merck also plans to help by donating her blood to research for COVID-19. She was told that once she receives two negative results from follow-up tests, she can donate. 

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