Boonville junior Luke Green, 16, realizes just how close he was to becoming a tragic statistic from COVID-19.
A two-sport athlete at Boonville High School, he is one of the lucky ones who survived the virus.
Although Luke is back playing receiver for the Boonville Pirates football team, he still doesn’t know how he contracted the deadly virus.
"All I know is that I was in Iowa at a basketball tournament when I started getting the symptoms," Luke said. "The morning before I started playing basketball I had a headache, but I just played through it and thought it was just a normal thing and didn’t think anything of it."
The headache started Aug. 8. It continued through Aug. 10, where Luke attended a Boonville football team practice. No other team members tested positive for COVID-19. He was cleared to return to practice Aug. 21.
Luke’s symptoms did not rouse suspicions for his parents, Joe and Elaine, at first.
"We treated it with Tylenol and moved forward," Joe wote on Facebook at the time. "Luke played three games of basketball on Saturday and after Game 3, he didn’t feel like eating and felt tired but [did not] show additional issues. He played hoops again Sunday morning and no issues, and then we drove home Sunday and the headache came back."
After the Aug. 10 practice, Luke ate lunch and took a nap. A fever and chills showed up after the nap, Joe said.
"When his headache [lasted three days], and then he got a fever, that triggered us to look up the symptoms,"he said. "Over the next-two days, Luke developed a dry cough and had a tight chest to go along with a continuing fever and chills. We contacted our family doctor and she encouraged a test, and then on day five the positive COVID-19 test was confirmed."
Luke thought he might have COVID-19 but still wasn’t sure. The test results Aug. 12, served as confirmation.
"I was like, ’Is this really happening to me,’" he said. "Honestly, I was more concerned for my parents."
Luke’s fear was put to rest when his parents were tested and the results came back negative.
Luke handled the news pretty well, despite the anxiety he felt going for the test, Joe said.
"He slept quite a bit more than usual, but we checked on him 4-5 times per day and he insisted on the isolation from Elaine and I," Joe said. "He always kept his mask on anytime he was in our presence and for 10 days never got within six feet of us."
Luke spent 14 days in the basement of his house quarantined from the outside world, which meant a lot of sleeping, video games and watching Netflix. He also did some sit ups and push ups to pass the time of day.
Luke knew he wasn’t out of the woods. His fever spiked Aug. 12 to 102 degrees and he noticed despite having a normal appetite, food did not taste the same. He drank a lot of water and ate macaroni and cheese, ramen, chicken tenders and pizzas.
In the meantime, Joe saw a 16-year-old kid who had a lot more life to live, many friends to see and hang out with, and football and basketball seasons coming soon.
Luke felt better within seven to 10 days but still was unable to go out because of the public health rules.
Joe and Elaine went through a checklist every night with Luke after his condition improved. They discussed all his symptoms:headache, fever, cough and tight chest, and asked how severe they were.
"It just helped us with establish a baseline and to measure his progress for each symptom and how he felt overall,"Joe said.
Once Luke started to feel normal again, he reviewed Missouri State High School Activities guidelines to be able to return to practice. His practice times were reduced and he only was allowed to do certain tasks.
"The first couple of days I could do light jogging and then progressively just got higher and higher to where I could go full again," Luke said. "Luckily, no one from football had it. I don’t know where I got it from, or how I got it, or when I exactly got it, but I’m glad to be back playing football."
Luke lost about five pounds due to COVID-19 and still sometimes is winded, but said he feels fine now.
"He has always been in great shape and that has probably helped in his recovery," Joe said. "Time will tell how it impacts his stamina once he gets rolling again in football and basketball."
The death rate for young people who contract the virus is low, but the rarity of that worst outcome is not a reason for complacency. More than 12% of Missouri’s COVID-19 cases — and 15% of the cases in the seven days that ended Wednesday — have been among people under 20.
Parents should look out for COVID-19 symptoms, especially if they progress, Joe said.
Looking back, Luke is glad he got through it.
"I would take it pretty seriously," he said. "Stay away from everyone. [It was] not too bad, at least it wasn’t for me. A couple of days it feels bad but other than that you get through it pretty fast. For me, at least, and people around my age, there is [little] risk and after five to six days you are almost completely fine, except for a little trouble breathing, maybe."
Luke is glad to be back with his team and practicing even through he was the first athlete at Boonville High School to get COVID-19. Even his late night basketball shot practice in his driveway can become a real thing again, he said.