By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities gardener spent days agonizing over every breath battling COVID-19. Terry Tauger beat the virus earlier this summer. But, as WCCO found, the stigma of being infected lingers and it’s something he’s lived through before.

Terry Tauger spent long days working on lawns in June and didn’t think much of it when he started to feel run down.

“So I kind of passed it off as just being exhausted,” Tauger said.

A week later, when it coupled with a cough, the 51-year-old tested positive for COVID-19.

“Then, quickly after testing it just got worse,” Tauger said.

Tauger lost his taste and smell.  He had body aches for days and his fever spiked to more than 103 degrees. He went to Regions Hospital worried about what would happen next.

“Then yeah, just the panic of not knowing if you’re going to get worse,” he said.

After an overnight stay, Tauger fought off the fever for nine days himself, confined to his apartment.  Tauger calls it a parallel experience to what he’s already been through.

“I’m a 25-year survivor of HIV. The stigma, the misinformation, the fear around that and the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s resonates with this crisis now,” Tauger said.

A month later Tauger says people still panic that he could be spreading COVID-19 despite the science that proves otherwise. But, it’s prevention he hopes we’ll focus on by wearing masks and following other guidelines.

“Do what you can. It’s not political. It’s about respect. It’s about our health,” he said.

Tauger believes his lungs are still recovering. As he’s struggled to get his energy back.  It’s a reminder the virus is still circulating and a plea to protect others.

“It’s scary,” Tauger said.

The Centers for Disease Control is still collecting data on how COVID-19 could directly affects people with HIV.  It says right now that older and adults and people of any age with underlying health conditions are at increased risk for severe illness.

Liz Collin

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