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'This virus is still very much alive': Clackamas County woman with COVID warns people not to let their guards down

While she can't be sure she got the coronavirus while out at a restaurant, she wants her story to serve as a serious reality check.

CLACKAMAS COUNTY, Ore. — Although restrictions are loosening, one Clackamas County woman who has COVID-19 warns: We still need to be careful.

Nothing is without risk, and Donna Parzych says she learned that the hard way.

A month ago the sun started shining and flowers started blooming. Restrictions were easing up a little bit, coronavirus cases were flattening out and vaccines were going in people's arms. Things finally looked more promising in Oregon.

"Everybody is so eager to get out and return to normal lifestyles," Parzych said.

After a year of strict lockdown, Parzych and her husband decided to take advantage of Oregon's improving situation.

"Me and my husband... love supporting our area favorite restaurants, etc. We felt it was safe - like what they were telling us was safe - to go eat dinner, have a cocktail," Parzych said.

She says she and her husband sat inside twice and outside once. That was back when their area, Clackamas County, was in the high risk category; restrictions were tighter and fewer people could eat at restaurants.

The Oak Grove couple felt the restaurants they went to were following the rules by spacing out tables and enforcing masking.

"It still got me, got my husband. Fortunately for him he had very mild effects. But I was not lucky enough."

Parzych tested positive for COVID-19. She even went to the emergency room.

"The thing that really got me was the breathing. The breathing was extremely hard to do," Parzych added. "It was very frightening."

Several days in, she can breathe better, but still feels really anxious.

While she can't be certain she got the coronavirus while out at a restaurant, she wants her story to serve as a serious reality check and a reminder that we're still in a deadly pandemic.

"If you're thinking about going out just be really cautious because this virus is still very much alive," said Parzych.

The message is: it's not without risk. 

"I'm just wishing that people make wise choices because this is really scary and this is not a pleasant feeling going through COVID. It actually has taken a toll emotionally and physically on me. I just don't wish it on anybody else," Parzych said.

Parzych is not sharing her story to discourage people from supporting local businesses. Instead, she wants to encourage people to do take-out and curbside pick-up, as well as tip big.

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