EvCC Alumna Recounts Her COVID-19 Experience

EvCC alumna, Katja Wahl, recounts her experience with contracting COVID-19.

EvCC alumna, Katja Wahl,  photographed with a camera in hand prior to contracting COVID-19.

Chandler Wilson

EvCC alumna, Katja Wahl, photographed with a camera in hand prior to contracting COVID-19.

Disclaimer: Katja Wahl is a former Clipper staff member and daughter of T. Andrew Wahl, who is the head of EvCC’s Journalism and Communications department, as well as the teacher adviser for The Clipper.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported the potential dangers COVID-19 represents to those with preexisting respiratory and pulmonary conditions as well as immune deficiencies. Katja Wahl, 21, is considered high-risk and was faced with living in quarantine in her new, not yet fully stocked apartment by herself. 

Wahl works in digital marketing at an agency and social media management at a small architecture firm. She is also the Engineering Club Head of Communications at Washington State University (WSU), Everett. Wahl was finishing her semester at WSU when she contracted the virus in early March. Her boyfriend, Logan Long, a 23-year-old health care worker in Tukwilla, is suspected of unknowingly passing the virus to her after contracting it at work

Before contracting the virus, one of Wahl’s kidneys only had 50% functionality and she has experienced heart issues that were exacerbated by an infection in October of 2019. Wahl’s doctor is in the process of diagnosing an autoimmune disorder believed to be lupus.

Despite these compounded problems, Wahl still gets her work done with the best of them. But even the toughest of people have a breaking point. For Wahl, it was when she didn’t have the energy to move.

Wahl explained, “I went in to get tested after my boyfriend made me because I refused to get out of bed. That says a lot because I am sick so often that I can normally work through anything.”

A diagram of the COVID-19 nasal swab test. (CDC)

The COVID-19 test raised concerns for Wahl. She suffers from multiple sinus problems, such as concha bullosa, a deviated septum and enlarged adenoids. Wahl describes the process as “the same as a flu swab, just a little bit higher in your nasal cavity.” Her visit concluded with the advice of lots of rest, fluids and quarantine.

Wahl said her symptoms started with a “gross feeling” that evolved into a rollercoaster of being fine to feeling terrible. Two symptoms, fever and nausea, diminished her already poor appetite from her compromised immune system and medications. She explained, “I ended up not eating for [four] days, and anything I did eat, I would throw back up in a matter of minutes.” 

Her weak appetite wasn’t the only issue made worse; Wahl was already suffering from pneumonia and complications from a heart infection. “That made it so I could not get a full breath in.” She continued, “My heart rate was around 130 constantly and my oxygen levels in the high 80’s.” 

Katja Wahl, with her boyfriend Logan Long, from whom she is suspected to have contracted COVID-19 after he was exposed at work. (Courtesy photo from Katja Wahl)

Her new apartment was still missing some of the essential items. But her father, Andrew Wahl, came to the rescue with deliveries, specifically, toilet paper! Katja Wahl recalls, “Like you think you’re running low on toilet paper? I had not been able to find any weeks prior to moving, so I had nothing but tissues.”

Andrew Wahl described his hunt for resources, “The first couple weeks of the quarantine were pretty brutal when it came to basics like toilet paper, eggs, cereal, etc. My wife and I were doing weekly supply runs for our house, Katja and my mom. There were times when it felt like the zombie apocalypse out there, particularly on the TP aisle.

Her father didn’t just bring rolls of precious paper; he brought company. “Every time he would drop stuff off we would chat through my window, which really sucked, but I was so glad to see someone in the outside world.” 

For Wahl, COVID-19 wasn’t fatal but the long-term effects on her health are yet to be determined. “I am about 90% better. My heart rate still has not fully settled, but at this point, I am assuming it won’t,” Wahl explained.

A selfie by Katja Wahl, taken in the hospital where she was tested for COVID-19. (Courtesy photo from Katja Wahl)

She continued“I see an immunologist who is working with me on my immune condition, which in turn will help my kidney. Once the stay at home order is lifted, I will have my first cardiology appointment. They are worried about both of these problems, but we still do not know the overall severity of them.” 

The public’s reaction to the pandemic is as mixed as its severity; something that Wahl experienced firsthand. She said, “Some people acted like I was going to die no matter what; some treated it like I had something that was going to be there forever and would kill them. Some people didn’t care and some people were sympathetic. I found that those who knew my medical history or also have an immune condition were the most understanding.”

Everett continues to be the hardest hit by COVID-19 in Snohomish County. As of May 18, there are 2,807 confirmed infections, 319 probable infections, with 126 deaths. 2,346 have recovered.

For more information on COVID-19, including symptoms and protection, click here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

For more information on Snohomish County’s COVID-19 status, click here: https://www.snohd.org/499/COVID-19-Case-Count-Info