When Kalie Shorr tweeted on Monday that she’d tested positive for COVID-19, she says she was simply wanting to warn friends and fans to take the novel coronavirus seriously. The singer-songwriter didn’t realize she also was making news as the latest notable name to contract the illness.
“I thought it was easier for me to tell my entire extended family by posting it,” she tells PEOPLE exclusively.
But within hours, the 25-year-old artist not only was making headlines, but she also was fielding several Twitter comments that accused her of not being careful enough or of even faking her illness.
The reactions took her aback — “it’s crazy how critical people have been when all I’m trying to do is share my experience” — but she also has come to realize why she was criticized.
Shorr knows people want to believe she might have taken unnecessary risks. In fact, she says, “I was being really diligent about it.”
Shorr was bedridden for three days with the worst symptoms, including night sweats and a fever that peaked at 100.8. She also lost her sense of smell and taste. By the fourth day, she was able to get around and “sit and watch Netflix.” She has steadily improved ever since. Treatment, she says, consisted of acetaminophen and lots of liquids.
Shorr knows she had what doctors would consider a “mild” case. But did it feel mild?
“No,” she quickly answers. “The very beginning was really awful.”
Still, Shorr says she knows she’s “super lucky,” and she credits her overall good health for her speedy recovery. Though her latest album, the critically acclaimed Open Book, features autobiographical lyrics that are filled with past excesses, Shorr says she’s now committed to healthy habits. “I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve smoked anything,” she says, “and I’m in super-good health. I take care of myself. I don’t even drink that much anymore.”
In retrospect, would she have done anything different to ward off the virus?
“I probably would have worn gloves and a face mask” to the supermarket, she says, yet she adds, “I still felt like I did everything right.”
Still self-quarantining, Shorr and her roommates, both of whom also recovered, are hopeful the bout will leave them immune to reinfection. According to the CDC, not enough is known yet about the immune response to COVID-19, but patients with other coronaviruses have been unlikely to be reinfected.
Perhaps, Shorr says, she’ll be able to participate in a medical study that’s searching for a cure; a number of researchers are now exploring whether antibodies from recovered patients can be turned into an effective drug. At the very least, she says, “I can volunteer to go to the store for people.”
Most of all, she wants her generation to follow health officials’ directives. “I still see people on social media getting together with groups of their friends and having ‘social distancing’ parties,” she says. “The only way we’re all gonna be able to get back to normal is if we take this seriously.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.
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