Door County Board Chair Reveals He Had COVID-19

Dave Lienau, Door County Board chair and Sister Bay village president, revealed Tuesday that he found out yesterday he had the COVID-19 virus in late March.

Lienau said he took an antibody test last week after informing his doctor of symptoms he experienced after returning from a vacation in Aspen, Colorado.

“I had a cold that was just different than anything I’d ever experienced before,” Lienau said. 

“I am a very large proponent of social distancing – and a walking advertisement for it,” he said. 

In February he vacationed in Aspen, a skiing and resort community that experienced one of the first notable coronavirus outbreaks in an American resort area. Lienau returned to Door County March 13, but he did not experience symptoms at the time. Upon returning, he called a special meeting of the Sister Bay Village Board to express the gravity of what he had witnessed in Aspen. That board declared a state of emergency, and the Door County Board of Supervisors did the same.

“When I came back from Aspen, I went through a crowded airport with hundreds of people for many hours,” Lienau said. 

On March 19, he began feeling sick, but he didn’t have a cough, fever or sore throat, which were considered the primary symptoms of COVID-19 at the time. 

“It felt like an odd cold,” he said. “I was really exhausted, but I had been skiing for three weeks, so normally I would have aches and pains from that. But I would sleep for 12 to 14 hours per day for three or four days.”

The Village of Sister Bay practices smart social distancing at a special meeting in March. Photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.

He didn’t think his symptoms were serious enough to ask for a test then, a time when tests were being reserved for the most dire cases. Eventually, he said he lost his sense of taste and appetite and lost weight, and he wondered whether he might have had COVID-19. His last symptom occurred around March 31. 

In April, he contacted his doctor at the VA and told her what his symptoms had been. 

“I’m pretty sure you had COVID-19,” she told him. 

Last week he took an antibody test that was sent to Quest Diagnostics in Milwaukee. That lab sampled his blood twice and confirmed that he had the COVID-19 antibodies. Door County Public Health contacted him about 30 minutes later to begin contact tracing, but the department determined that it didn’t need to continue tracking because his illness was more than 30 days old, and there were no other outbreaks in Sister Bay. 

Lienau said he feels fortunate that he was social distancing even before he returned from vacation and that the village was practicing strict social distancing at the meetings he attended. 

“I am a very large proponent of social distancing – and a walking advertisement for it,” he said. 

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