BOSTON — 25 Investigates continues to learn and share the story of one of the first people in Massachusetts to have contracted and recovered from the coronavirus.
The woman, a photographer from Boston, unknowingly got the virus while photographing the Biogen conference and then went on to photograph other events, including a large party for wedding vendors in Somerville the following week.
>> Original report from 25 Investigates: 2 test positive for COVID-19 after attending party expo in Somerville
Now, 25 Investigates has more information on the timeline of her illness and the message she wants everyone to hear.
“I basically had to go through my datebook for every job I had from the moment I left that conference and it was everything from photographic families to conferences to industry events to headshots, so really I had seen so many people,” said Lara Woolfson.
By the time Woolfson got her test results from the Mass. Department of Public Health, she was the sickest she had ever been.
“I was feeling awful, I was exhausted, bedridden. I had chills, I had a fever, I had like a very big tightness in the chest. I almost feel like I couldn’t fill my lungs and breathe properly,” she said.
It was the coronavirus, a highly contagious virus that Woolfson had no idea she contracted for nearly a week. For days, she was asymptomatic.
"I was just out doing my job acting normal and the next thing you know, I'm in an emergency room surrounded by people in spacesuits," she said.
Woolfson had photographed the Biogen conference at the Boston Long Wharf Marriot Hotel on February 26 and 27. Biogen notified the state on March 3 that several people had become sick at that conference. On March 4, she photographed a party with hundreds of wedding vendors at the Row Hotel in Somerville. Woolfson said she got a call from Biogen on March 5.
At the behest of her doctor, she was at the ER of Mount Auburn Hospital the following day.
“They asked me to put on a mask and gloves and said that someone would be waiting for me at Mt Auburn Hospital ambulance bay. They didn’t want me going in the other channels where other patients might be,” she said.
Woolfson spent eight hours at the ER, mostly in a zero pressure chamber, before she was sent home to isolate. DPH took five days to return her test results.
Download the free Boston 25 News app for up-to-the-minute push alerts
“When I first got my diagnosis, the thought of telling people was it really, my heart just kind of sank. I was embarrassed. I didn’t know how people were gonna take the news. I thought people were gonna be mad at me,” she said.
But Woolfson was proactive and did what she had to do. Her regimen of medication was simply Dayquil and Nyquil. Now healed, she feels sharing her experience is equally important.
"I'm like everybody else. I'm glued to the phone and the computer right now because we are all socially distancing and staying home. And I'm watching the stories that are coming out about the virus and they're scary, terrifying," she said. "I'm a face who lives here in Boston. I experienced it. It wasn't great, but I am on the other side of it."
Woolfson says she cannot stress enough the importance of social distancing and doing so to protect others.
"What we have to do is come together and do this hard thing. We need to stay indoors. We need to stay apart, but just know we are all in the same boat," she said.
Woolfson said she felt Biogen was dealing with extraordinary circumstances when this unfolded. She has worked for them before and says they are a very good employer.