20-year-old from Onondaga Co. with COVID-19 asks people to ‘stay inside and stop being ignorant’


LYSANDER, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Patrick Penfield’s month started off in the middle of a dream trip to Europe, as part of a study-abroad program through Syracuse University.

Within weeks, the 20-year-old and his classmates visited London, Barcelona, Paris and Dublin.

It’s in one of those cities where one of them likely caught coronavirus, which would make the end to Penfield’s month much different.

Penfield is back home in Lysander, stuck in quarantine with his parents and sister.

Using Skype to do a remote interview with NewsChannel 9’s Andrew Donovan, he says, “I’m feeling better than I have for the past couple of weeks.”

He says how he feels changes hourly.

“I’ll wake up feeling fine, but maybe by evening, the aches and pains start to set in. It’s really hard to tell when I have symptoms. That’s how it’s been the past two weeks,” Penfield explains.

Penfield remembers having a fever and what he calls “strep throat symptoms” like a cough and sore throat before leaving Europe.

Well aware he was coming into Onondaga County from a coronavirus hot-spot, Penfield didn’t leave his home protectively.

When he found out his classmates tested positive, Penfield immediately called Upstate Hospital’s Triage Hotline and was referred to the Syracuse Community Health Center for drive-thru testing.

24 hours later, Penfield’s results were positive. A court order mandates that he stays home for 14 days. His parents and sister feel healthy, but are also not leaving the house to prevent possible spread.

He has now become friendly with the staff of the Onondaga County Health Department.

“They call me twice a day, checking my temperatures, basically ask how I’m feeling and ask if I need anything, whether it’s thermometers, masks or groceries,” Penfield explains. “They’ve gone above and beyond what I thought the government would do.”

Penfield knows he has his youth and health on his side, but that hasn’t stopped his brain from going to a worst-case scenario.

He’s also not happy with the disregard for social distancing he’s seeing on social media and hearing the Onondaga County Executive preach about at his daily news briefings.

My message would be: just stay inside and stop being ignorant. It’s not you should be worried about. I can handle it. I’m not worried about myself. I’m worried about the rest of my family. I’m worried someone elderly I may have come into contact with, whose immune system can’t support it. I think it’s unfair to say ‘if you get coronavirus, you get it.’ You’re not invincible. Young people, especially, need to stop being so ignorant.

Patrick Penfield

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