Autiello after COVID-19 hits him: This is no joke

Autiello after COVID-19 hits him: This is no joke

NORTH PROVIDENCE – It should go without saying at this point, says Dino Autiello, but COVID-19 is no joke.

Autiello would know. The North Providence Town Council president said he was taking just about every precaution he could think of prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 14. He tested positive for a second time last Saturday, July 25, meaning at least another week of quarantine.

The best he can tell, said Autiello, is that he contracted the dangerous virus during an event following a July 13 North Providence High School charity golf tournament. He hadn’t golfed, he said, but said a couple of people who were there at the event afterward have since tested positive for the virus.

Autiello posted a video of how COVID-19 is “affecting me tremendously” last Wednesday, July 22, and it had more than 15,000 views as of Monday morning, many commenting that his experience battling the virus proves that this isn’t just an older person’s problem.

In that video, Autiello described COVID-19 as a “very, very serious virus,” urging everyone to take it seriously.

The average age of those getting COVID-19 is 38, said Autiello, and he’ll turn 38 at the end of the summer. What he initially thought was a sinus infection quickly intensified into far worse, with a high temperature, deep tiredness, body aches, cough, congestion, and loss of smell and taste, among other symptoms.

After quarantining for seven days, he said, he was finally starting to get back on his feet, but was still struggling with symptoms. He said he remains very tired, falling asleep at odd times. Where symptoms of a regular flu typically hit someone for a couple of days and then wane, he said, the strong effects of COVID-19 are lasting. He described an odd feeling of congestion-induced nausea and a “consistent flu-like feeling combined with a sinus infection for two weeks.”

Last Thursday, Autiello said he couldn’t sleep at all, but the next night slept from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. He’s also been taking four or more hour-long naps throughout the day.

None of this experience has been any fun, said Autiello, and he can’t imagine someone with an underlying health condition having to deal with it.

Autiello, the deputy director of constituent services for the Rhode Island Senate and manager of pre-construction services for A. Autiello Construction Co., says he’s always maintained a healthy lifestyle, following a nutritious diet, exercising, and not being a smoker or heavy drinker, yet COVID-19 still had strong impacts on him.

“If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone,” he said.

Autiello said he has family and friends to thank for shopping for him and taking care of him over these last days, but it made him think of all those people who don’t have that luxury. He said he’s particularly appreciative for front-line workers who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day, saying they deserve every penny of hazardous duty pay that they receive.

Once someone tests positive, they don’t need to get another test, said Autiello, but he said he wanted to get another one before going back to work and being around friends and family again.

Many people are still treating COVID-19 far too lightly, said Autiello. He said he’s consistently worn a mask to try to avoid passing anything to his parents, who are in their 60s, as well as his elderly grandparents, some of who have underlying health conditions.

He said he had a mask with him at the golf event, but of course removed it for eating. He said he could have contracted the virus then or at any point he was near other people.

Autiello said he understands that this is summer and he, like many, would be at the beach seven days a week if they could, but he’s urging everyone to make smart choices to keep Rhode Island’s COVID counts where they are. He said elected officials are doing their best, despite having to make unpopular decisions, and Rhode Islanders should do their part to take it seriously.