Petersburg woman who survived COVID-19 warns others after virus ‘knocked her down’


PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A Petersburg woman who recovered from COVID 19 shared with 8News her recovery story while warning young folks who think they won’t be affected.

“Make the best choices, not just for you but for everybody,” Leilia Magee said. 

On Tuesday, Magee said she’s thankful to be alive. When her symptoms first started in July, she, like many other young people, was in denial.

“I have asthma but it’s definitely manageable. I was thinking, well it couldn’t happen to me, right?” Magee said. 

According to new Virginia Department of Health data updated on September 1, Richmond residents in their 20’s make up the highest number of COVID-19 cases, when compared to other age ranges. At 8News’ last check, more than 1,000 people in that age range have the virus.

Magee is a journalist for the Petersburg newspaper, the Progress-Index. She had been reporting on the virus, knew its severity, and said she took safety precautions to avoid getting sick. When she eventually got sick, “it was somewhere between panic, fear,” she said. 

Magee said after a few days of symptoms, which had begun to worsen, a trip to the hospital was unavoidable. “I never had a fever, but I had pretty much everything else.”

The journalist said she was having trouble breathing and got a COVID-19 test at Chippenham hospital. She told 8News Tuesday she wasn’t surprised the results came back positive. 

“Just in the hospital, like oh is that person here for COVID? Are they gonna make it out? That person looks to be the same age as me, are they gonna make it out?”

After leaving the hospital, Magee was in isolation for nearly two more weeks. She said her headaches were daily and “unavoidable”. Now, she said she considers herself nearly fully recovered.

“Just by virtue of being able to live to see the next day, it’s amazing.”

However, as her journey with the deadly virus is coming to a close, other people her age nearby are just now beginning theirs.

According to VCU data updated Tuesday, almost 100 students have COVID-19 at VCU right now. That number is down from Sunday, when nearly 150 students had the virus. A VCU spokesperson told 8News the other dozens of students have since recovered after being in isolation.

As of Monday, seven staff members still have the virus and a handful have recovered since the semester began.

The university blames parties for the high number of cases, saying “many” of the cases are linked to a single gathering. VCU said they will suspend a student caught hosting a gathering with more than ten people. 

As a COVID-19 survivor, Magee now tells people of all ages to be extra vigilant. 

“You could just come in contact with someone whose immune system is not where it needs to be. You need to think about those people too,” she said.


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