Duke law student recovers from coronavirus, wants others to learn from his experience


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – A Duke Law School student who recovered from COVID-19 hopes others can learn from his experience with the virus.

Zack Kaplan came back from a trip to Alaska with pictures, memories, and a day later, a low-grade fever. He was aware that the coronavirus was starting to spread. During his trip, he said he was careful to wash his hands and take precautions.

Still, since Kaplan’s wife is a nurse and because he’d been traveling, on March 17, his birthday, he got a test for COVID-19 and isolated himself in one room of his home, just in case.

“Two days later, when I couldn’t smell or taste anything, that’s when I knew it was probably COVID,” he said.

Sure enough, the test came back, positive.

“I was nervous about it because, even though I had extremely mild symptoms and was fortunate to have mild symptoms, all the medical professionals I was in touch with throughout my time in isolation were very, very cautious,” Kaplan said. “They’d seen people — and particularly young people, unfortunately — who’ve had really mild symptoms, but then taken a dramatic turn for the worse.”

Kaplan feels fortunate he was never admitted to the hospital, but he did go to Duke’s emergency department for tests. Duke, like many hospitals across the country, has tents set up for coronavirus patients.

“They had all their hazmat suits on and everything like that, but they were just so friendly and treated me really well while I was there,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan is back to normal life after two weeks in isolation. Well, it’s about as normal as life is for anyone right now. He wants others to know how contagious the virus is.

“Even if we are careful and aware about it, this virus can just spread that easily. So hopefully, we can all take that and be even more careful,” he said.

He’s not sure where he picked up the virus. It could’ve been here in North Carolina, in Alaska, or when he flew through the airport in Seattle, but he says he never came in contact with anyone known to have the coronavirus.

Kaplan said he rarely left his room while in isolation. He wore a mask when he did. His wife, who works as a nurse, stopped working as soon as he was tested. She recently tested negative for the virus and will be able to return to work soon.

While being cautious, Kaplan also asked everyone to show each other the kind of support he’s seen from his friends, his doctors, and his professors at Duke Law School.

“This virus really provides a challenge, but certainly a lot of opportunities to reach out, whether it’s with your money or with your time or just checking in on your neighbors,” Kaplan said.

From a distance, of course.

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