Symptoms or not, residents regard virus threat differently


Those infected with the novel coronavirus don’t often experience the same illnesses.

Some are asymptomatic, while others have more severe cases. For those who have been confirmed with COVID-19, they cannot be sure where they came into contact with the virus. The worry about what could happen is emotionally draining for them and their families, some say.

And the virus could be anywhere in the community. Yet, not everyone feels the same way about the precautionary use of face masks.

Here are stories, part of a weekly series called the COVID Chronicles, which will share personal experiences of how the pandemic is affecting communities. If you would like to share your experience, email us at


Aaliyah A. Ahumada is a full-time student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and an educational aide for the Brownsville Independent School District. At 21, she’s in some ways typical of how COVID-19 has spread across the Rio Grande Valley.

“I believe I was infected by my grandma,” she said. “She was already showing symptoms of a cold, or what we thought was a cold. She had runny nose, she had a cough, very moderate fever. It wasn’t too crazy, before I started getting the symptoms. But I was in close proximity to her.”

Aaliyah made a YouTube video to inform others about her experience with the virus and how to get through the body aches and fatigue. She got tested on June 15, received the results eight days later and quarantined a total of 28 days, she said. By the 11th day, she was feeling 90% better.

“I did not experience fever. I did not experience shortness of breath. I did not have a cough. … I lost my sense of smell and my sense of taste. When I tell you the body aches and fatigue sucked, it sucked,” she said.

Aaliyah said she researched her own remedies, and what really helped was vitamin C, two 500 mg tablets a night, aspirin because it’s a blood thinner, and a tea made by boiling three cups of water with four limes and three aspirin. The other thing was going outside for 30 minutes to an hour, and drinking lots of water.

She said she became very fearful and anxious at night because she is asthmatic.

“I would calm myself down by meditating and repeating the affirmation that the virus is not welcome in my body, that my body was stronger than the virus, and that I was going to go about being healed. Thankfully, I got better.”

In the video, she suggests being very careful.

“If you’re still going out, nine times out of 10 one of the people you’re with is infected. As of right now, the virus is everywhere. It’s emotionally draining. It’s physically draining. … I have to be in quarantine 14 more days. It’s a scary feeling to know I have COVID and I don’t know if it’s going to get better.”

– Gary Long


A woman strolled into an H-E-B store without wearing a facial covering as she held the leash of a tall black-and-white dog recently in Harlingen.

As she walked past customers standing at the deli counter, a young man blurted out, “That’s a beautiful dog!”

“Thank you!” she said with a smile.

Then the man’s wife yelled, “You’re not wearing a mask!”

That’s when an argument broke out between the couple and the woman.

“He told me I had a beautiful dog,” the woman tells the man’s wife.

But the man’s wife keeps yelling about the law requiring customers to wear facial coverings to protect each other from the coronavirus.

“That’s my wife!” the man yells at the woman.

Then the man’s wife calls on employees to order the woman to leave the store.

“I’m just walking in the store,” the woman tells the young couple.

Frazzled, the woman walks into an aisle, stopping along the bottled water display.

“What’s this country coming to?” the woman asks as she drops a jug of water, spilling water across the floor.

Later, an employee says supervisors called police to remove the woman from the store.

Two weeks later, the woman was spotted at Walmart — again with her dog — and no mask.

– Fernando Del Valle


Jose Ordonez did not have any symptoms but decided to get the test because he wanted to take a trip to Mexico and be on the safe side. To his surprise, he tested positive.

“I thought it was going to take a few days for me to receive the results, but right away I got the results in the mail and it turns out I was positive,” he said.  “I was surprised because I did not have any symptoms and just took the test to have a (few) days off from work.”

Ordonez said he is sure he got infected at work because there are several people infected. He works at a retail store as a guard and said the company is not making the employees take the test even if someone tests positive.

Ordonez said he thinks it should be mandatory to have the whole company tested every time there is a new case there. He said he had to pay for his own tests while he knows other companies pay for the tests of the employees.

He added he started to worry about the virus and thinking about getting really sick after he tested positive.

“I had no symptoms before or anything, but when I told my family and friends they started to tell me to be careful because I could wake up one day and feel super sick with body aches, fever and temperature,” he said. “So that’s when I started worrying.”

He said his wife never got infected with the virus even though she was with him in the house. She has been tested several times due to her job as well.

“She has taken the test several times, she probably doesn’t feel the swab anymore,” he said laughing.

– Nubia Reyna