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COVID patient recalls experience as Milwaukee marks two years since first cases

Posted at 5:14 PM, Mar 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-13 18:15:49-04

Coach Tina Krietlow is easy to hear, even in a crowded gym.

"Let's go Knights, let's go!," she yelled Sunday in the Pius XI High School gymnasium.

Krietlow coaches her son, Chaz, and the rest of the Nicolet fifth grade boys basketball team, who were competing in a tournament at Pius.

Outside of coaching duties, Krietlow, who lives in Fox Point, is also the director of athletics and recreation for the School District of Cudahy.

"I love my job," she said.

But two years ago this March, she wasn't courtside or working her day job. She was in a hospital bed, struggling to breathe.

March 13, 2020, is the two-year anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Milwaukee. Krietlow tested positive not long after that day.

She spent four days on oxygen in the hospital that month. And it took her six to eight weeks to recover to about 90 percent, she said.

"And since having Covid I did go on an antidepressant. Because I do think the mental health piece is significant," said Krietlow.

Today, "little triggers" still happen, she said, that remind her of her experience. It could be a cough or forgetfulness, both potential long-term symptoms of COVID-19.

"So I do feel a little bit better, but still suffer from some trauma and some PTSD," she said.

Krietlow is among the nearly 241,000 people in Milwaukee County who have tested positive for COVID-19 since march 2020. More than 21-hundred have died.

Daily cases peaked at more than 5,000 in January, but there were fewer than 30 last week.

In the city alone, there have been around 150,000 positive cases of COVID-19. 1,086 Milwaukeeans have died.

Reflecting on her serious health battle, Krietlow said she wishes she had gone to the hospital sooner when she started experiencing symptoms.

"Trusting one's body [is important]. Knowing what feels right and what doesn't. And getting the necessary care as needed," she said.

That's a lesson Krietlow believes we can all apply long after we've moved on from the pandemic.

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