MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — John O’Neill, from Bird Island, had just finished a relaxing two week getaway with his wife on the West Coast.

They got home on March 3. Four days later, he had body aches and a fever.

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O’Neill got tested for COVID-19 on March 10th at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar. He was positive. He was tested a week before the Minnesota Department of Health created stricter guidelines on who could be tested in the state due to limited supply of testing materials.

O’Neill is 68 years old. He’s had cancer and heart issues. He checks several of the higher risk categories.

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His symptoms were mild.

O’Neill never went to the hospital. He wasn’t even feeling sick by the time he got tested. Still he stayed home, because he didn’t want to spread the virus to others.

“People have to take this thing seriously,” O’Neill said. “I was one person who flew from California back home to the little town of Bird Island. If we had been running around seeing people after we knew we were sick we could have blown this thing up all across this area of the state.

O’Neill was contacted by the Mayo Clinic last week to give blood so they can test him as part of their research to find COVID-19 antibodies. He donated on Friday.

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O’Neill and his wife quarantined themselves in different areas of their home. His wife, so far, has been healthy.

Kate Raddatz