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COVID-19 patient opens up about symptoms, recovery and importance of social distancing guidelines

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist

Andrei Marghitas has an infant baby at home in Phoenix, so he wanted to be super vigilant once he was diagnosed with COVID-19 after a chance encounter with a friend at a birthday party.

He had the common symptoms, and quarantined himself in a room in his home to not negatively impact his 6-week-old baby’s immune system. While it was annoying to be stuck in one room, the symptoms for the most part weren’t all that bad.

He awakened in the middle of the night during the illness and began to cough. And cough and cough and cough.

“Coughs, contrary to popular belief, haven’t been something that has really been detrimental to me,” Marghitas, 27, said. “But this particular instance I started coughing and I could not stop for about seven minutes straight. [It was] anywhere from five to 10 minutes, let’s say. It was just nonstop coughing. It was hard for me to breath. I had a lot of chest pains. It was a very bad experience and that was the only point in time where I thought, ‘Hey, this coronavirus thing, this is going to be the end of me.’ 

“Fortunately, I was able to stop coughing. Seven minutes into it, drastically, I just stopped. And then I went back to normal.”

Marghitas first felt sick on March 4, and on March 6 was tested and confirmed to have COVID-19. He had symptoms for about 11 days. He finally came out of quarantine after 15 days and believes that being in good health saved him from a worse experience.

He had aches, pains, headaches and coughing and it was bad at times, but he never was seriously ill for long periods of time. His physical conditioning, he believes, helped him.

“I think that made all of the difference,” Marghitas said. “A lot of people have asked me why this has been a fairly easy bout for me to go through. I don’t want to downplay coronavirus, because it’s not like having the common cold. It’s like having the common cold where sporadically you feel like you’re going to die for 15, 20 minutes at a time.

“But I think throughout this whole point of time, the fact that I was so active before — I’d hike all the time, I’d hit pads, I’d do jiu-jitsu drills and so on and so forth, and in addition to that having good nutrition was key.”

Andrei Marghitas, shown here with his fiance, Shay Jenkins, was diagnosed with the coronavirus on March 6.

His belief that his fitness and overall good health enabled him to get through COVID-19 unscathed is why he has partnered with UFC fighter Lauren Murphy, whom he used to train with at The Lab in Phoenix, to do exercise-at-home videos on his YouTube channel.

His experience in getting the virus is a cautionary tale to the many people who are ignoring social distancing and quarantine guidelines.

He was at a birthday party on Feb. 29 and ran into a friend he hadn’t seen. They shook hands and briefly embraced. Their encounter lasted for no more than 20 seconds. Marghitas then used the restroom and washed his hands. He said he is sure he did not touch his face at any point in the interim before washing his hands. 

When his friend tested positive, Marghitas went on a long and frustrating journey (which he details extensively on his YouTube page) to get tested. He discovered he was positive on March 4 and immediately quarantined. But he was amazed by how little it took for the infection to spread.

He’s urging people to take it seriously and to follow social distancing guidelines. But because of his belief in health and fitness, he and Murphy are going to put out daily videos for people to follow along with and work out at home.

“During this time, it’s important to remain active and remain healthy,” he said. “We don’t want to diminish our health at a time where it’s most crucial. Gyms are closed down and I don’t know that many workouts I could do from home off the top of my head, and so I reached out to Lauren.

“Lauren has partnered up with me and we’re going to start doing different videos for people to workout from home. We’re maybe going to do segments from five to 10 minutes and we’re going to do a tutorial so you could see a professional UFC fighter performing these workouts. Then, I’ll attempt to do them.”

He hopes to have them on his YouTube channel this week.

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