North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell is starting to regain a sense of normalcy after spending five days at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center while battling COVID-19.
Folwell, 61, was discharged from Baptist on Friday and has since been recovering at his Winston-Salem home. Originally diagnosed March 24, Folwell told the Winston-Salem Journal Wednesday morning he is “doing fine” now and feeling better.
“This is probably the most intense thing I’ve ever been through, and my message to the readers is that taking the advice from both federal and state officials is going to ensure the safety from all of us,” Folwell said.
He went to the hospital Sunday, March 29, on the advice of his doctor after his oxygen levels dropped. Folwell said he only experienced the cough and breathing difficulties, and the other symptoms — such as fever — never appeared.
Folwell did not require a ventilator or intubation during his stay at Baptist, but said he only had one focus during his entire stay: breathing.
“The doctors wanted my total focus to be on breathing,” he said. “That’s the only way your immune system and your lungs can get strong enough to fight the virus.”
Folwell said he did receive hydroxychloroquine, a drug typically used to treat malaria, lupus and arthritis, and he believes it helped lessen his breathing difficulties.
Often touted by U.S. President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19 patients, hydroxychloroquine is under investigation in clinical trials for use on coronavirus patients. However, there are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19.
Folwell described the fear and worry he felt in the hospital, and thanked his family and friends for their prayers and love.
“There’s a level of prayer and a level of realizing that you’re not driving anymore that is truly humbling,” he said. “I kept focusing on the fact that I have somebody to love and people are loving me and praying for me. I have something to do and something to look forward to.”
Before being diagnosed, Folwell traveled out of the state — to the “hinterlands of Utah with friends and family — and made several stops at various North Carolina newsrooms and media outlets, including the Winston-Salem Journal.
Two Journal employees self-quarantined after learning of Folwell’s diagnosis.
Folwell said he thinks he got the virus in North Carolina, not in Utah, and said no one on his trip showed any symptoms. He said he is not sure where in North Carolina he got the virus.
Regardless, Folwell said it was never his intention to expose anyone to the virus.
“My focus as a public servant is to be a giver and a creator and not a taker,” he said. “Nothing I was doing in my official capacity was meant to take from anyone.”
At least three members of the Treasurer’s office had tested positive for the virus, according to a news release. Folwell said he isn’t sure who those people are, but said he is thinking of, and praying for, those staff members.