Carl Goldman and KHTS
Carl Goldman is one of 700 people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The 67-year-old radio station owner has been in quarantine since early February. His wife never tested positive for the virus, and went home to Santa Clarita, California, on March 2.
Despite having mild symptoms, and feeling fine, his tests remain positive, and he's had to stay at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's National Quarantine Unit.
Carl Goldman has been living in quarantine with the coronavirus for more than a month.
Early on in the diagnosis, he experienced a high fever and shortness of breath. His dry cough comes and goes, but other than that he's feeling fine.
"After 48 hours, I would have been back at work if I wasn't contagious," Goldman, 67, told Insider from his room at the University of Nebraska Medical Center's National Quarantine Unit on Friday.
Goldman is among the more than 700 people who contracted the coronavirus while aboard the Diamond Princess.
He and his wife Jeri enjoyed a "wonderful 15 days" of the 16-day cruise in Japan before the first passenger was diagnosed on February 3.
The next day, 10 other passengers had the virus and a quarantine was put in place while health officials screened everyone on the ship.
The Goldmans were vacationing with friends in an adjoining cabin.
"Luckily we had a mini-suite so we could step out on the balcony, we could still have fresh air. We were able to go back and forth," Goldman said. "That's what I think saved my 29-year marriage with my wife."
The passengers went on with their cruise in isolation, with food being delivered to their rooms, until February 15, when Goldman's friend Jerri Jorgenson, who was in the adjoining cabin, was diagnosed and taken to a hospital in Japan an hour later.
Two days later, all 300 Americans were loaded onto cargo planes and evacuated to US Air Force bases in California and Texas.
"Two hours into the flight, not having any symptoms at all, I woke up with a very high fever, well over 103," Goldman said. "There was a doctor on board the plane in a hazmat suit. She confirmed I had a fever and placed me in a quarantined area on the plane."
Goldman was taken to a biocontainment unit in Omaha, Nebraska
Carl Goldman and KHTS
Instead of going to the base in California with the rest of the Americans, the Goldmans, Jerri Jorgenson's husband, and three other people from the cruise were taken to the University of Nebraska Medical Center's National Quarantine Unit.
Because of Goldman's age and a recent bout with Guillain-Barré syndrome, he was taken to a biocontainment unit for 10 days.
"My wife and I were separated in Omaha. She went to a lower level of care along with the other five other passengers," Goldman said. "She never got the virus — that's what's so weird about this — and she went home on March 2."
Goldman described the biocontainment unit, which was last used during the Ebola outbreak, to a "scene out of the movie 'Contagion' or 'The Andromeda Strain'."
The room was completely sealed off, had double-paned windows with chicken wire in between, and health officials who visited donned Hazmat suits, he said.
Goldman spent 10 days in that unit. Other than some Ibuprofen to ensure his fever didn't come back, the only treatment available was Gatorade to stay hydrated.
"I was getting gallons and gallons of Gatorade rotated through every spectrum of the rainbow of colors, multiple amounts of times," he said. "The light blue is the bomb and stay away from the grape because that's nasty."
After about 10 days with mild to no symptoms in the biocontainment unit — where he also spent his 67th birthday — Goldman was moved to a slightly larger room in a different unit.
That's where he remains now.
Goldman is part of a clinical study on the coronavirus
Carl Goldman and KHTS
Every day, Goldman said health officials are swabbing everything that he touches, giving him blood tests, and tracking air particles in his room with a special device. That's on top of the routine swaps to see if he remains positive for the virus.
"I get three additional swabs, two under each eyelid and one deep up my rear end. I kid because I'm taking one for the team here," Goldman said. "It's not a fun process … hopefully they will gain a better understanding of how the virus travels, both inside my body, inside my bloodstream, through the air, and provide some more answers out there."
When Goldman was feeling sick, his symptoms didn't feel like the common cold or flu.
Shayanne Gal/Business Insider
"It's a different sickness. Unlike a cold or flu, I did not have any stuffiness in my nose, no sore throat, no headache," he said. "Those are things I usually get with a cold."
Goldman said he was feeling tired and had a shortness of breath and dry cough when walking.
"Even with the high fever, I usually get chills and sweats," he said. "I didn't have that either."
Goldman said that, as far as he can tell, it's the fever that is the telling sign of the virus.
As allergy season approaches, he hopes that people will check their own temperature before they run to the doctors with a stuffed-up nose.
Goldman misses home, and the outdoors, but expects to be ostracized when he returns
Carl Goldman KHTS
Goldman's new room, which he's been living in since late last month, has an exercise bike and a window. He chats with Jeri over FaceTime several times a day as they continue to run their business together. He also talks with his grown children and grandchildren.
"I can't even open a window for air, so I'm just staring at the outdoors, which I miss greatly," he said.
At this point, it's a waiting game.
Other than a dry cough, which came back yesterday, Goldman feels fine.
Still, his coronavirus tests remain positive. Scientists are looking into whether people with dead coronavirus cells still in their body can test positive even though they're no longer contagious, Goldman said.
Goldman is excited to get home, but expects to be ostracized for a bit.
When he went public about his diagnosis on his blog, he said he received death threats. As a public figure in Santa Clarita, Goldman said he's used to critics and sometimes even a mild threat, but not like these.
"We started getting some horrible, horrible threats," he said. "This was still when we were back in Japan. They didn't realize that we were going to be contained."
Jeri, who was never positive for coronavirus, still feels unwelcome in some businesses and has been asked not to attend her gym for the next month. Other than going to and from work, she's basically self-quarantined, Goldman said.
"It was like she had been on a leper colony. People didn't want to be around her. They still don't want her in their businesses," he said. "She now goes into work and goes home, does not go to any business, not even a grocery store."
When Goldman returns home, he's decided to spend an additional two weeks in self-quarantine just to ease the concerns of the community.