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'Take it serious': First reported U.S. service member to test positive for COVID-19 shares recovery story

According to the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Spc. De'Ontae Chappel was the first service member to test positive. He fought the virus for 60 days.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

DAEGU, South Korea — Two months after becoming the first U.S. military service member to test positive for the coronavirus one army man is sharing his experience with others.

According to the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Spc. De'Ontae Chappel was its first reported case of the virus, after a 60-day fight they say he finally has a clean bill of health.

For those who may still be wary about the coronavirus and its health implications, Chappel has one message: "Take it serious and take your health serious."

In an interview the DoD released online, Chappel said that at first he never thought he would get the virus-- but then he did. 

Speaking to the DoD, Chappel remembers being in the ambulance on the way to the hospital when his mom called. She had heard on the news that a 23-year-old from Camp Caroll, where he is stationed, had tested positive for COVID-19 and just knew it was him.

Being sick, experiencing testing, and keeping a sound mind was not the hardest part for Chappel, saying his training helped him keep his composure and keep from thinking the worst-case scenario. 

The hardest part according to Chappel, was when his wife and daughter also tested positive for the virus.

"It was scary, for sure, finding out my wife and daughter had it together, I felt like I'm the reason they were the ones to get it," Chappel said. While he still does not know if that is officially the case, he said he still felt he did not do his part to keep them safe.  

Each day was a roller coaster when it came to testing, telling the DoD that one day he would test positive and then would be negative the next. Chappel said it was tough, but he "wouldn't say (he) lost hope."

But, finally, relief came and he finally received double negative testing, Chappel shared with the DoD.

His first thought? He was glad he did not have to get anything else stuck up his nose for testing. Chappel said he lost count of the number of times he was tested.

Once released, Chappel told the DoD he had one thing on his mind-- shrimp tacos. Making them his first meal post-release. 

Speaking to the DoD, Chappel said he could not have done it without his leadership and the support they gave him. 

In an effort to drive the point home, Chappel leaves the interview with one final point: 

 "Never think, like me before this situation, that it can't happen to you. Take it serious and take your health serious, because that's one thing I didn't do before this situation and it was a complete eye-opener to me."

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