College student who says she was Lee County’s 1st COVID-19 case has warning for her age group


SANFORD, N.C. (WNCN) – COVID-19 can spread quickly among college students, as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has illustrated. A college student from Sanford has a warning after the virus left her sick in bed for months.

Lacey Mathis is a college cheerleader. She is used to staying active. But, for nearly three months, she could hardly get out of bed because of the coronavirus.

“I was basically in bed, on my back, at least 20 hours of the day,” she recalled. “I couldn’t really get up and move. I was sleeping a lot, high fevers for almost the entire three months.”

The William and Mary student lives in Sanford. She said she was diagnosed with Lee County’s first case of COVID-19 in March. She believes she caught the virus while cheering at a basketball tournament. She has gotten past the worst of the illness, but after months in bed, she’s still working to regain her strength. She also suffers lingering effects of the virus, including a loss of smell and taste.

Then there are the emotional effects.

“Along with all the pain and everything, there were just a lot of nightmares and replaying all these awful things over in your head,” she explained. “It was terrifying and it’s definitely, definitely still affecting me.”

She hopes other college students realize how sick COVID-19 can make them.

“To go online and see all these pictures of people being so casual and nonchalant about it, in the middle of a global pandemic, it’s a bit confusing,” she said.

Mathis said that if it happened to her, it can happen to anyone.

“I hope everybody gets it mildly if you have to have it at all, but it’s not at all guaranteed,” she warned. “Just be safe because even if it doesn’t happen to you, it could happen to somebody that you care about.”

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