Traveler self-quarantined for 24 days, has been feeling worse lately
(Update: Says test came back negative; clarifying where he's stayed)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A man staying with family east of Bend who returned from Thailand in February on a flight full of coughing passengers, then self-quarantined for over three weeks said he learned Monday from Deschutes County health officials that his test for COVID-19 came back negative.
Grant Knaver, 32, calls himself a "digital nomad." He said he was in Thailand on a date with a woman about three days before he decided to fly out of the country.
According to Knaver, the woman seemed to have a chest infection or a related illness. Shortly after their date, Knaver said he began to have difficulty breathing.
Knaver told NewsChannel 21 in a phone interview Sunday that when he fell ill, he checked into the Chiangmai Ram Hospital and instantly sensed something was wrong.
"It was very obvious when I went there that it was different than what was normal, and I’ve been in Ram before," Knaver said. "I got very weirded out."
He said after the doctor diagnosed him with bronchitis, he tried to catch a flight to South Korea but, due to more difficulty breathing, but spent about three more days in the ICU.
Once Knaver was able to catch a flight to Incheon International Airport in South Korea, he said he and other passengers underwent screening in a glass room. He then boarded a 10 1/2-hour flight to Seattle.
He said the flight was "very unnerving" because most, if not all, of the passengers seemed visibly sick, and he recorded video that had the sound of several passengers coughing. He also felt progressively worse during the flight.
"People coughed hundreds of times, maybe thousands, I don’t know," Knaver said. "I have a hard time believing that these people would all of a sudden have the flu."
Knaver said despite people's conditions, the airline staff was very accommodating and friendly. He said a man who spoke little English stayed by his side, to make sure he was feeling better.
Once Knaver arrived in Seattle, he contacted several agencies, including the King County Health Department and local hospitals. He said they all asked him the same two questions.
"(Someone from the King County Health Department) asked me, 'Were you from China?'" Knaver said. "I said, 'No, I did not come from China.' 'Were you around a confirmed case?' I was like, 'How would I even get that?' And after that, she was like, 'We don’t have any supplies and we can’t help you.'"
Knaver said he self-quarantined for a total of 24 days, most of that at the EconoLodge of Renton-Bellevue, before traveling to Bend and saying with his mother and uncle at a home off the Powell Butte Highway east of Bend.
That's where he got the call Monday about the COVID-19 test taken late last week.
"It feels good to know that -- kind of feel a little shocked," he said.
He's still not feeling well, but is relieved to know it's not the potentially deadly strain of virus gripping the world's attention. He said he stayed in self-quarantine until he received the results, having "burned through thousands of dollars" to self-quarantine and put family and others at the least risk possible.
"I thought I was going to be (feeling) better" by now, he said, still upset that there was no screening when the flight, and no doubt many others, arrived in Seattle.
Knaver said that, in his view, is "outright negligence" by health officials there.