Superintendent still weak after COVID-19 bout
May 1, 2020
Barnum superintendent Mike McNulty felt chilled the afternoon of April 1 after leaving his office at Barnum High School and returning to his rented cabin near Sand Lake.
"I felt like I was coming down with a cold," he said in a telephone interview this week. "I took a hot shower to warm up."
But he felt better the next morning and went back to his office.
"I didn't have a temperature but, within hours, I alternated between feelings of being chilled and feeling hot," he said. "I got out of the office after Cathy Mattei, the school nurse, told me that I had better go. It hit full bore that afternoon."
McNulty went back to his family home in Waconia and spent the next week isolated in his room.
"I was constantly washing my hands and staying clean," he said.
McNulty consulted with a doctor from Essentia Health on the computer, but no tests were available to determine if he had contracted COVID-19.
"We tried to figure out where I caught it," he said. "I couldn't name a particular source. I could have gotten it from any number of places, like a gas station. My daughter had come home from Europe and was quarantined for 14 days but she never got sick.
"I had a heavy fever, between 101 and 103, for five or six days straight. I couldn't eat anything. I tried to sleep but I was miserable."
When asked if he had lost his senses of smell or taste, as is commonly reported by victims of COVID-19, he said no.
"I couldn't eat," he said. "I lost 18 pounds."
McNulty started to recover and was cleared by a doctor on April 16.
"I didn't have any symptoms for three days," he said. "That's when the doctor cleared me."
The doctor's office notified the Minnesota Department of Health about McNulty's illness.
"The health department contacted me each day until I was cleared," he said. "First they wanted to know all of the symptoms and, after that, I had to fill out a daily questionnaire on any present symptoms."
McNulty's voice was still a bit weak as he spoke 26 days after first getting the chills.
"I don't wish it on anyone," he said. "I know that my dad would not have made it if he had gotten it. I was worried about my wife too."
McNulty returned to work April 20 but still felt weak.
"We had a remote board meeting on Tuesday but I don't remember any of it," he said. "It seems that the symptoms are different for everyone. Some people only get a runny nose."
Even though McNulty started to feel symptoms while he was at the school, he said that the staff practices social distancing. He reported that no one on the office staff - the only people that he was near at that time - has become ill.
McNulty is normally an active person and walks each day.
"I am back to walking again," he said. "But I still feel weak. The doctor said that it will take two to four months to fully recover."