Aurora mayor, police leaders tell their COVID-19 tales, so people take it seriously

  • Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman, left, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, center, and Deputy Police Chief Keith Cross held a Facebook Live Zoom meeting Wednesday to share their experiences recovering from COVID-19.

    Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman, left, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, center, and Deputy Police Chief Keith Cross held a Facebook Live Zoom meeting Wednesday to share their experiences recovering from COVID-19. COURTESY OF THE AURORA POLICE DEPARTMENT

 
 
Updated 4/8/2020 6:23 PM

Now that they are on the mend, three top Aurora city leaders took to social media Wednesday to detail their experiences being sick with COVID-19.

The point, according to Mayor Richard Irvin, was to put a local face on the crisis, in the hope that residents will take the disease seriously and obey orders to take precautions to prevent its spread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"This is no joke," Irvin said in a Zoom meeting with Chief Kristen Ziman and Deputy Chief Keith Cross that was broadcast on Facebook Live. "At one point I felt like I had gone to the edge and I was hanging off, and kind of clawed my way back from the edge."

Cross, who started feeling ill March 17, said he may have picked up the virus when he drove to New York to pick up his son from college. Ziman said she thinks it may have spread at a meeting she, Cross and Irvin attended to plan safety measures to keep city workers from falling ill. Irvin and Ziman were tested March 21.

"What did we all do? We all convened together in a room to come up with a plan to keep our staff safe," Ziman said.

"In doing that we all most likely infected one another."

Cross seems to have had it the worst, with two trips to a hospital emergency room.

All three said that at first, they assumed they were getting a head cold.

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The first two days, Cross tried to "power through." But by 9:30 p.m. the second day," I felt like a truck had hit me," he said.

Cross suffered from a fever, a "fierce" headache and vomiting. He was tested at an ER for influenza but was denied a COVID-19 tests because he did not have respiratory symptoms. He received one a few days later.

He didn't eat for four days, couldn't sleep for three, was sensitive to noise, and nauseated the whole time despite taking anti-nausea medication. He became dehydrated and had to go back to emergency care to receive fluids intravenously.

"I had incoherent thoughts that I knew weren't reality. That was somewhat scary," Cross said.

Irvin said he got a COVID-19 test after he learned Cross was sick. Besides the fever and headache, the mayor said he had dizziness, tremors at night, slept up to 18 hours a day, sweated through his nightclothes, and had no appetite for a week. Everything ached, including his teeth, gums and eyeballs. He could not smell or really taste anything.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Water even tasted nasty to me. It was one of the most unsettling feelings that I've had," he said, noting a 10-pound weight loss. "Who sits in the house and loses weight?"

Ziman noted she would feel horrible, then better for a day or two, then feel horrible again. Irvin and Cross echoed that.

Irvin joked about how he and Ziman went to the same drive-through testing site, and how she probably thought he cut her off in line. He urged the public to look for positive things during the situation, which for Ziman was getting to spend time with her children at her home and for Cross was the outpouring of cards and text messages encouraging him.

Ziman has returned to work full time, including going out in a squad car Tuesday to pick up donations of personal protective equipment. Irvin is working from home, in isolation for two more days.

Cross, who is still coughing and sneezing, is doing some work at home. "I was told specifically by my co-workers, 'Don't bring your butt back in here,'" he said.

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