Dr. Principe, a board-certified internal medicine physician and Tidelands Health’s associate chief medical officer, developed a low-grade fever on the evening of July 3 – a telltale sign something was wrong. And he was “worn out,” a fatigue he couldn’t explain.
A COVID-19 test confirmed what he had begun to suspect. The doctor who had cared for dozens of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since March was now fighting for his own health.
For the better part of a week, he rested at his Murrells Inlet home. His wife, Beth, nursed the 61-year-old through a relentless cycle of fever, body aches and sweats. He had no appetite, and “everything hurt.”
On Thursday, July 9, Dr. Principe used a home pulse oximeter to check his oxygen saturation level. A 95 percent reading is considered normal for most healthy individuals. Dr. Principe’s reading? 89 percent. He was mildly hypoxic – a dangerous condition in which the body becomes starved of oxygen.