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, says that he is concerned some people are not taking the spread of the virus more seriously.
"It hits so close, because being the ones on the road, watching people talk about it on the Internet with conspiracies and don't take it so seriously," he told Rolling Stone. "Their attitudes are, like, 'What's the big deal?' But we're actually the ones living out there and being part of it. To be sick from it … people need to understand, it is a real thing. It's happening and it's happening really quick.
"We're not prepared for it," he continued. "These numbers that we see that people are testing are totally off, because I'm sure there’s much more people who have been tested and can't get the results fast enough. It's bigger than they make it out to be, but it's real."
The 57-year-old Billy, who 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, said that it was "tough" for him and his wife to get tested.
"Tiffany started feeling bad the first day we got home," he said. "She hasn't left the house since then. So we decided we should be proactive: Let's call the doctor. How can we just go test? Our doctors were, like, 'If you don't have any symptoms, we don't want you to test.' We were, like, 'We've been in Europe for five weeks, traveling everywhere. We just made it out of there, and now we're not feeling well.' But they wouldn't give us one. Then two days later, when we really started feeling bad and called again, that's when they finally said, 'Come on in. Go to Kaiser [Permanente hospital] and do the drive-through and get tested.' So we jumped in the car and didn't even have to leave the car. We just rolled down the window. They swabbed your throat and your nose and you're on your way."
Billy described the test as "painful." He explained: "It's, like, gagging in the throat, and then they stick that swab to touch the top of your skull. That's what it feels like as they scrape the inner nostril. I swear, me and my wife both said, 'After that scrape, my nose just feels itchy and irritated.' I just felt I was sneezing more at that point. It was awful. [Laughs] It's not fun."
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.
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 later 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 685,000 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide and more than 32,000 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.