Man who says he was one of first COVID-19 patients in SE Wisconsin thanks healthcare workers

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) — 100 care kits were delivered to frontline healthcare workers at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee on Tuesday.

The kits were gifts from people in the community, the Business Health Care Group, and Poshabodes.

Among those delivering the kits was Jeff Kluever, executive director of the Business Health Care Group.

Kluever went on a ski trip to Austria back in February and started feeling COVID-19 symptoms when he returned. He said he immediately self-quarantined.

“Came down with symptoms on the evening of March 8, was tested on morning of March 9, and that’s all attributable to my primary care physician’s nurse and how insistent she was that I become tested,” he said, “Because of that, I firmly believe that none of the other individuals, including myself, cause I self-quarantined upon getting back to the US, had any community spread of COVID-19, which in itself was a minor miracle.”

He said his test came back positive on March 11 and then everyone else he was on the trip with was tested right away.

“The other five from the US were also positive,” he said Kluever.

A spokesperson said due to patient privacy laws, Waukesha Public Health was unable to confirm or deny, but Kluever said the public health department told him he was the first case in Waukesha County.

“This is not a distinction that I actually enjoy, but I was number one for Waukesha County,” he said.

The five other people he was with also live in southeast Wisconsin.

“When you look at the range of symptoms, some were almost asymptomatic, maybe some congestion or sniffles,  to the symptoms that I had which were the worst, which included a high fever, the raging cough, vomiting,” he said.

He said he also had significant dehydration and was incredibly tired. He had the symptoms for approximately two and a half weeks.

“When I became effectively negative, I still had a lingering cough that I had to deal with and then all five of us, five of the six of us, were incredibly motivated to donate plasma,” he said, “We’re giving back to those who are incredibly less fortunate.”

He said he worked closely with a public health nurse.

“She also worked closely with the state hygiene lab, so between the three of us, we really learned on how to deal with COVID-19 throughout the two to three weeks that we were engaging,” he said.

He said the ability to get tested was very important, and he credits the nurse in his physician’s primary care practice for advocating on his behalf.

“Without being tested,” he said, “There’s no question that there would have been significant community spread, not only from myself, but from the other individuals that were on the trip with us.”

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