Florida tennis pro recovering after testing positive for coronavirus

Max Chesnes
Treasure Coast Newspapers
Walton Sun

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Fabio Vasconcellos, a St. Lucie County tennis professional who has taught the sport internationally for 35 years, is at home recovering after testing positive for the novel coronavirus Friday.

Vasconcellos, 56, told TCPalm Monday his symptoms emerged March 16 and only lasted one day. What started as a runny nose and an inconsistent cough slowly dissipated as the days passed.

"Many of us are carrying the virus and we don't even know," Vasconcellos said. "We need to stay away from other people and be patient; don't take this lightly."

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Vasconcellos said he called Cleveland Clinic Martin Health Wednesday and asked if he could be tested for COVID-19. After an initial phone screening, Vasconcellos said he was told his symptoms did not meet testing criteria and was denied a test.

A day later Vasconcellos said he got a call and was going to get tested "through a favor" from a mutual connection, though he would not specify the details of how the test was arranged.

In the parking lot of a local doctor's office, Vasconcellos connected with a medical professional who remained 15 feet away from his car, he said.

"I did it in my car; I followed the instructions over the phone," Vasconcellos said. "It was all done very safely."

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While the average return time for COVID-19 test results has averaged three to five days, and some longer, Vasconcellos said he received the diagnosis Friday — one day after taking the test.

Vasconcellos said he was then contacted by the Florida Department of Health who asked him a list of questions including if he was displaying symptoms and if he still felt sick.

"All of my answers were 'no' to everything," Vasconcellos said. "It's just the way it is."

As a tennis instructor, Vasconcellos said he is constantly exercising and has no major health issues. He said he works out almost every day and does not smoke or drink.

"I would say just be careful, because you could be carrying and not even know," Vasconcellos said. "Limit how many people you talk to and minimize how often you go out."

Vasconcellos said he has remained at home since he felt the minor symptoms March 16. Since his positive diagnosis, "the phone hasn't stopped" receiving calls from friends who are wishing him a speedy recovery and offering to deliver food to his house, he said.

He has told everyone that, while he appreciates their kindness, he wants them to stay away from his house so he does not spread the virus. Most of his food is coming directly from Publix's delivery service.

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Vasconcellos estimates that he had contact with approximately 10 of his clients before self-quarantining. All of them have been contacted about his diagnosis and are now staying home as well, he said.

"Act as if you have the virus and you'll make everyone safer around you," Vasconcellos said.

Max Chesnes is a TCPalm breaking news reporter for Indian River County. You can keep up with Max on Twitter @MaxChesnes, email him at max.chesnes@tcpalm.com and give him a call at 772-978-2224.

This story originally published to tcpalm.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.