TESTAMENT singer Chuck Billy, who was one of the first metal musicians to test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, spoke to Canada's The Metal Voice about how the virus has temporarily put his life on hold.
The 57-year-old Billy had been feeling unwell since returning home to the San Francisco Bay Area earlier in the month following the completion of "The Bay Strikes Back 2020" European tour with EXODUS and DEATH ANGEL.
"We just made it out of Europe on [March] 12th," Chuck recalled (hear audio below). "When we got home, of course, we were just chilling at home watching the news. At first, we were, like, 'You know what? Let's be proactive and call Kaiser [Permanente medical facilities] and the doctors and see where we can go get tested,' just to be proactive. When we first talked to medical people, they were, 'Well, if you don't have symptoms, you can't get tested.' We were, like, 'Well, here's what we've done for the last five and a half weeks. I think our exposure's pretty good.' So we were kind of fine at that point, and then as the days went by, we started feeling sick. And then by [that] Sunday, we decided, 'Let's call Kaiser again and tell 'em again what's going on,' and that's when they recommended us going in. And by that point, we had been in communication with other bandmembers and other crew people and people from the other band that traveled with us. And within that first 24 hours, it seemed like a lot of us were sick with a lot of the same symtpoms. So right away, we felt, like, 'Oh, great. We must have something.'"
Asked what symptoms he experienced in the days following his return from Europe, Chuck said: "Well, for me, my body just ached — headaches, achy, wiped out. At first, I thought maybe it was just jet lag and traveling, but then it just came on like you knew you were sick — you just felt sick. And it didn't really let up. It was just a lot of not sleeping. I really didn't get the fever — just the coughing and the headaches and [I] just [felt] tired. And then we got to take our test on Sunday — we did the drive-through test, where you drive in the car, just roll down your window, they swab you and you're on your way. And it takes, like, seven days to get your results. So, from getting tested till getting the results, we started feeling better towards the next weekend — still not sick, but definitely that headache and the tiredness and achy and just feeling really bad was starting to go away."
He continued: "I noticed the first day or two, just walking to the bathroom and back, you were just huffing and puffing, and I was, like, 'Okay, I can feel it.' But it didn't get any worse. It wasn't bad enough. We just kind of chilled — we weren't over-exerting ourselves. And we really just took it easy [and] got a lot of rest."
COVID-19 symptoms vary widely, and undertesting in many countries means that many people may have already had the coronavirus without having received a positive diagnosis.
"It all depends on how your body reacts and your health," Chuck said. "My wife and I feel like we're in pretty good health. Right away, we isolated ourselves, quarantined and just haven't left and [we're] just riding it out. And [we're] feeling better as the days go on. I think today was probably our most active day. We're up and out, trying to get out back and do some things, where before, we were just shut down, stuck kind of on the coach, just kind of riding it out."
EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt, who was also on "The Bay Strikes Back 2020" tour, revealed earlier in the month that he was exhibiting all the symptoms of COVID-19.
Holt said that he and his wife underwent coronavirus testing on March 20 but added that they will have to wait "seven to 10 days" for results.
DEATH ANGEL drummer Will Carroll has been in an intensive care unit at a Northern California hospital since March 18 after being taken "very ill" following the completion of "The Bay Strikes Back 2020" trek.
TESTAMENT, EXODUS and DEATH ANGEL canceled at least two shows on "The Bay Strikes Back 2020" tour due to the fast-spreading outbreak of the new coronavirus: February 25 in Milan, Italy; and March 11 in Hannover, Germany.
More than 487,000 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide and more than 22,000 deaths so far, putting public health systems and emergency services under immense pressure.
U.S. officials have repeatedly urged Americans to heed what federal, state and local officials are asking of them in order to curtail the spread and dampen the impact of the virus on the population.
California recently estimated that more than half of the state — 25.5 million people — will get the new coronavirus over the next eight weeks.
A new CDC report has offered proof that younger adults are just as likely as anyone to contract the virus, with nearly 40 percent of COVID-19 cases found between the ages of 20 and 54.
The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) put its worst-case scenario at 1.7 million COVID-19 deaths in America.
Back in 2001, Billy was diagnosed with germ cell seminoma, a rare type of cancer that was found in his chest. He spent the next two years receiving treatment, and won. That battle helped bring his former bandmates back together, and TESTAMENT was resurrected, releasing three new albums, including 2016's "Brotherhood Of The Snake".