By Katherine Hoey
A Center Moriches man who contracted the coronavirus and shared his story with the world on social media said he is doing much better after 14 days in quarantine.
“I’m feeling 100 percent better today and trying to get tested,” said Christopher Yackel, 47, who was one of the first 10 people in Suffolk County to contract the virus, known as COVID-19.
Although Yackel’s symptoms have subsided, he is still waiting to be cleared by his doctor. He is currently waiting for a call-back Monday to make an appointment to get tested again.
Since posting on the Center Moriches Community News Facebook group with over 9,000 members and a Newsday story about the couple, the Yackels have seen an outpouring of help from the tightly knit community.
Neighbors, friends, businesses and even strangers have provided assistance, from pizza to bagels to dog food, toys and even cheesecake.
The Yackels said they are appreciative of what the community has done for them, including on March 19, the 44th birthday of Roseanne Yackel, Christopher’s wife.
Roseanne and Chris set up some extra birthday decorations they had at home and made the best of it.
“It was nice to be home, not rushing out to dinner and getting all dressed up,” Roseanne Yackel said.
Chris reached out to PIX11 and News 12 Long Island, which wished her a happy birthday on live TV. She also received a cake from the office of Suffolk County Legis. Rudy Sunderman’s, who represents their district.
Another family member came by and delivered birthday hats and cards on their front porch.
“They had a little birthday parade with balloons on their car and they sang happy birthday to me from the driveway,” Roseanne said.
Over the two weeks, Roseanne was able to see the positive in the situation. Being home with family was like a reset button that brought her back to the basics, she said.
Christopher, a medical salesman for Aesthetic Management Partners, has lived in Center Moriches since 2006. Roseanne moved to Center Moriches in 2012 and the couple wed in 2013.
Chris began feeling ill shortly after returning from the Empire Medical Training Show at the Westin Times Square in Manhattan earlier this month, where several others also tested positive for coronavirus.
Soon after, Roseanne was showing mild symptoms and got tested but was administered a test for the wrong form of coronavirus, which came back negative. She went back for a second test which came back negative as well. Despite this, she has followed the same protocol as Chris and has self-quarantined with him since March 9.
The couple both experienced low-grade fevers, aches and pains, night sweats and a persistent dry cough. Throughout each day, the couple was taking DayQuil and other over the counter medications to alleviate symptoms.
The couple’s cousin and her 7-year-old son were forced to quarantine with them since they were staying with them while their house was being renovated.
“We were in the middle of renovating the house and had to stop,” Chris said.
While Roseanne’s cousin showed mild symptoms, her son seemed fine throughout the two-week ordeal.
To be considered not contagious, according to the Centers for Disease Control:
- The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
- The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
“If it’s a virus, it’s gonna work its way through and I have to power through. And that’s what I was doing until I took the test and reality set in,” Chris said. “I was home for two or three days and I had to wait for the results and I kept feeling better and better and then I got the results and they were like ‘Oh yeah, you tested positive.’”
Once Chris’ test came back positive, Roseanne took to Facebook to notify her friends and families. The Yackels then spent days and days of tracing their steps and making phone calls to notify people they had come in contact with that they had the coronavirus.
Chris shared the post on the Center Moriches Community News page and it sort of took off from there.
“Immediately people started to reach out,” Roseanne said.
First, Brothers Four Pizza in Center Moriches donated food. “They were so generous it was unbelievable,” Chris said. Then some of the Yackel’s friends at Peter’s Fruit Delivery Co. offered to drop off some healthy fruit. For St. Patrick’s Day, Justin’s Chop Shop butcher in Westhampton Beach insisted on delivering food after Chris called and asked if he could place an order.
The family also received donations from Chubs Meats in Medford, Pete’s Bagels and Brunch in Eastport, Dean’s Pet Palace in Moriches who delivered dog food, Energy Fuel New York in Babylon who saw their story through the Newsday article, a local Cub Scouts chapter who donated crafts and toys for their nephew, anonymous toy donations through the mail and a cheesecake that was sent to their old home address.
The outpouring of donations left the family with too much food; They didn’t want it to go to waste and have been sharing some of the untouched food with neighbors, family and friends.
Chris emphasized the importance of staying home and continuing to follow information from the Center for Disease Control, the New York Department of Health and the Suffolk County Department of Health.
Roseanne recommended documenting any symptoms on a calendar as they develop. She also pointed out that it is allergy season and some of the symptoms may seem similar.
The best course of action is to always contact a medical professional, the couple advised.
“If you feel you have symptoms, you need to call a medical professional, don’t just show up,” Chris said, adding that you should call ahead. “Don’t just run to the doctor because chances are, doctors aren’t gonna let you in, especially if you have symptoms. There’s a specific protocol on how they have to bring the person in so they don’t affect the people that work in the office.”
Chris said he is anxious to get the clearance and get on with his life but wonders when the world will truly settle back into normalcy.
“Me being in sales, this is hard. When the office does open up again, when do handshakes come back? I’m working from home and reaching out to clients and prospects online right now.”
Roseanne, who is a freelance hairdresser, is currently out of work.
She is considering doing Facebook live videos to educate people through their experience and address questions on what their symptoms and recovery looked like.
Chris emphasized that everyone reach out to their friends, family and neighbors, especially the elderly, and see if they need anything.
“Center Moriches, for me, is more community-driven,” said Roseanne, who grew up in the Longwood School District area and lived in Bayside, Queens, as well.
“There’s a lot of families out here and everyone gets together and helps out for a cause. We have a lot of foundations in the town and everyone just seems to help each other.”
Chris emphasized that everyone should reach out to their friends, family and neighbors, especially the elderly, and see if they need anything.
“I can’t say it enough: if everyone could just stay home and stay calm. Do your part and we can get through this,” Chris said. “This will pass.”