As of this date, Morgan County, West Virginia officially has 17 documented cases of coronavirus and no deaths.
But there are more than 17 cases in Morgan County.
How do we know?
We spoke with Eddy Rubin.
Rubin had coronavirus earlier this year, but he’s not counted as one of the 17.
“About a month ago, I started developing a strange manifestation on my toes and fingers,” Rubin said on the Morgan County USA Podcast with Russell Mokhiber. “My toes first began to turn purple. I first noticed it taking a bath in warm water. But then they were turning reddish purple all the time. And then my fingers started getting affected.”
“I had no idea what was going on, but upon consulting with my wife she told me that in Japan, there is this ailment that looks very much like what I had. And I translated the way that she said the word in Japanese and it came out as chilblains. So I was convinced that I had a case of chilblains and I had looked online at images or chilblains and sure enough it looked similar to what was there.”
“But what was a little confusing was that chilblains is supposed to be due to exposure to sudden extreme cold, almost like a mini frostbite. And this was April. I hang our laundry outside and there were chilly mornings and I would go outside on my bare feet. I thought maybe I caught it. But I do this every year and I’ve never had anything like this before. But not knowing what else it could be and with my wife convinced that that’s exactly what it looked like for weeks. That’s what I thought I had, I had a case of chilblains.”
“The trouble was after a couple of weeks, instead of getting better, it was getting worse. The way that we actually discovered this was my mother-in-law in Japan was watching the Japanese news on TV, and they were talking about new symptoms of COVID-19, and they were showing images of COVID toes.”
“So right away, my mother-in -law got on Skype with my wife and said – this is what Eddy had. It looks exactly like Eddy’s feet and fingers. And I was completely shocked and that’s when I Googled it and at that time, there were lots of reports about it. So at that point, I consulted my doctor, and yes, he did confirm that I did not have chilblains – that I actually had this symptom of COVID-19.”
Did you have any other symptoms of coronavirus?
“Just a little bit of exhaustion. Fortunately I did not have any of the respiratory symptoms that are considered to be the more frequent signs of the virus.”
There are 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Morgan County, no deaths. Are you one of the 17 reported cases?
“No, I am not one of the 17 recorded cases and this is an interesting topic because, as most health experts have been saying – the confirmed cases are definitely an undercount, not just here in Morgan County but throughout the world.”
“Probably the best estimate I’ve seen is for every confirmed case there are at least ten that are undetected. Because what that count that you’re referring to in Morgan County is just folks that have tested positive for the virus. And in my case, by the time that we identified it, it was already weeks old, so I was no longer infectious and my doctor checked with another infectious disease specialist and they both said, the chances of me still testing positive at that point would be very very slim so even though I still manifested these unmistakable symptoms of COVID-19. It was working its way out of my body and it was, it would not come through as a positive diagnostic test.”
Through various public health authorities, Rubin tried unsuccessfully to get tested.
How long did you have the symptoms?
“A good four to five weeks.”
Do you have any sense how you caught the virus?
“I can’t say for sure, because this is so contagious,” Rubin said. “And there are so many different ways you can get it. But I can say that my wife and I were being very, very careful. We were barely leaving the house since mid March, afraid to even go to grocery stores here in Berkeley Springs. We were going to a less populated county that was more remote to do our shopping, to try to minimize our exposure to cases.”
“I do work here for the Morgan Arts Council, and we have a lot of DC tourists, and Baltimore area tours from the metro areas to visit. Our gallery was still open and I was coming into contact with people. And at that stage of the virus, the CDC was not yet recommending that folks wear masks, or any type of protective equipment. So while I was still working and on the front lines and retail establishment, I didn’t have any protection.”
“I don’t know for sure, but it is possible that I got this virus coming into contact with people from the DC or Baltimore metro area. Having said that, I want to make clear that we are about to reopen the gallery here at the Ice House. And we are putting in place stringent safety requirements. It is as safe to come here as it is safe to go anywhere else in Berkeley Springs right now. Folks should not be afraid to come to the Ice House once we reopen. We’re taking this very seriously. We do now have masks and all sorts of protective equipment and we’re going to make sure that everybody who enters the Ice House gallery wears masks, as well.”