One Alaska man’s battle with COVID-19 and his message to people of the Mat-Su Valley


Steven Johnson is a healthy 60-year-old who works out three times a week, takes his vitamins, keeps his weight down and eats a healthy diet. He’s retired, so his stress level is generally low.

If we’re to be honest here, Johnson is kind of an “Alaska man” who grew up in the Mat-Su. He’s tough. He takes care of himself.

He thought he would be the guy who, should someone breathe the COVID-19 virus onto him, would have mild symptoms and a quick recovery.

It didn’t turn out that way for the Palmer resident.

Four weeks after his first COVID-19 headache, he’s barely out of the woods, he said. At least he’s sitting in a chair. But he is weak.

“There were a couple of times I thought I’d need to get to the hospital,” Johnson said. “I’ve had just about every symptom in the book for COVID.”

Headache, muscle aches, joint pain, leg pain, lung fluid, shortness of breath, brain fog — these were some of the coronavirus symptoms he has had over more than month. Tylenol had no effect on his pain. Johnson lost his sense of taste and smell. And he spent days and days in bed with a fever.

Johnson is still suffering the effects, with bouts of inexplicable leg pain that come and go, and he has trouble focusing his brain long enough to even perform short administrative tasks.

Johnson is now wondering if this is the new norm for his life.

A lot of people in the Mat-Su Valley seem to take a cavalier attitude toward the coronavirus, and Johnson wants to get the message out that how your body reacts to COVID is nothing you can predict. You can be completely fit, like he was, and find yourself an invalid.

Congressman Don Young had a short bout with the virus, and he’s 87 years old. Sen. Josh Revak also picked up the virus and had a mild case. But a young man that Johnson knows nearly ended up in the hospital, and he was only 25.

“It kicked his butt,” Johnson said of the young man. As for Johnson, the virus has been even worse, however.

Johnson says that he believes he picked it up on Election Night, at a crowded party where people were in each other’s six-foot zone, and there was a lot of social interaction. OK, let’s call it like it was — there was hooping and hollering.

He believes a lot of others probably came down with the virus at that party, and he knows several who did.

Some people may have had mild cases, but that’s a crapshoot, Johnson said. You don’t want to take the risk, in case you are the one who ends up with excruciating leg pain, overall weakness, or even worse, in a hospital on a ventilator.

It’s a message Johnson says needs to be heard especially around the Mat-Su, where he has heard that some do not believe the virus is real, or believe only the weak get it. He realizes there’s a stigma and some people don’t want to talk about it, but he decided to, because nobody should have to feel like he does.

People are still gathering, not practicing physical distancing, not wearing mouth or nose coverings, and they don’t seem to consider whether they’ll be the next super-spreader who delivers the fatal toxic dose to someone.

“Just take some precautions,” is his message for fellow conservatives. The virus is not a political animal, and whether you get it or don’t get it is not a badge of political honor. But it could be the end of your life as you know it, as you may never recover the health you once had. Or, like Johnson, not recover your sense of smell or taste.

That’s what Johnson is wondering about now — whether he has been through something that will seriously diminish his health for the rest of his life, and whether the Election Night party was worth the risk.

Warning signs and symptoms of COVID-19:

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face


    • No wonder Felix Rivera is so in love with his face diaper.
      Given the bullhocky that he regularly regurgitates, though, wearing a diaper over his mouth is very appropriate.

  1. Healthy on the outside does not take into account possible underlying issues that have gone unnoticed. Not saying thats the case but a distinct possibility.

  2. Did he wear a face covering? We don’t and we don’t social distance very often. We do have some medical issues but with positive thinking and taking care of yourself, taking vitamins, washing your hands a lot and in general live your life. I know this virus can be deadly for some people both young and old, so can the flu and a cold that can turn into pneumonia but how long are we going to worry about what might happen? We need to think more about what is going on today with businesses closing down and others not being able to go to work. It is really bad in the winter since some folks don’t go out as much anyway and then to have to worry about if they do go to a Christmas party will they get the virus. I’m so sick of hearing every day about how many tested positive, there is no context associated with it. Oh well I’m glad this article was written and I hope he gets better soon. Take it from a 70 yr old live your life like there is no tomorrow cuz tomorrow may never come. Bless you all.

    • I’m 72 and have no interest in checking out early. This article is a cautionary tale. Each of us will do as he/she feels we (sic) should. I go to the grocery at 7am. Even though I don’t believe a mask is of much use, I wear one when I go into a place of business that requests I do so. Do I worry about local businesses going broke? Of course. Do I wish to risk my health because of that worry? Heck no. I want to be around so that I can patronize that business in six months or a year when the virus has been brought under control, and I don’t feel like I am taking a life threatening chance when I step through that shop’s door.
      Can I forego my usual Christmas party? Yeah. Is it truly worth the risk that I, or someone close to me, or someone not close to me, might get the bug and end up dying or with a chronic, life-threatening condition, or non-life threatening but serious condition just so I can revel for a night or a week? Not in my opinion.
      We are all in this together. That is the nature of an epidemic. Whether you choose to believe or not, the virus will plod along, gleaning those along the way who fall into its path. If it chooses you, your path will be yours and yours alone. It has become the great equalizer, but you are not helpless against it.

      • Greg,
        If you are fearful of “checking out early” then stay home and have your food brought to you. Since when does the rest of the living have to be responsible for the very remote possibility that you could die from this virus? Keep your fear in control. You are being propagandized by the media. And I am not afraid to give you my last name.

        • Well said Larry.
          People who are more susceptible or afraid can take precautions; such as isolation and masks. If those precaution work then they will be fine.
          Same argument goes for vaccines; if you have taken it and it works then why is it necessary for others to take it as well to ensure your safety?
          Anything argued past that either reveals the lack of efficacy from precautions/vaccines, or an ulterior motive.

          • The ulterior motive, which is not even that ulterior, is that statists of all stripes always and invariably demand TOTAL conformity to their choices and their dictates. No exceptions, no dissent, and certainly no deviance from ‘the one true way’ allowed.

      • “…the rank and file are usually much more primitive than we imagine. Propaganda must therefore always be essentially simple and repetitious.”

        -Joseph Goebbels

  3. While I certainly sympathize with Mr. Johnson, his situation appears to be the exception, not the rule.
    The seasonal influenza can and does affect different people differently. So do most common diseases. One person gets the common cold, and is fine in a few days. It leads to pneumonia in the person sitting next to them.
    What is relevant is not a single individual’s story. That is a curiosity. What is important to know is what percentage of infected people will get what symptoms and to what level. A story like Mr. Johnson’s is good as a warning, but his experience represents such a small percentage of infected individuals that the story serves to scare, not inform.

      • If this was any other year, any other situation, I would agree totally.
        This isn’t.
        There is nothing about this virus that is not exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. The constant fearmongering about this pandemic has reached the point of satire. And, this is just another example of that fearmongering.
        People are exposed to potentially harmful bacteria and viruses daily, and any of them can “kick butt” if you are susceptible to them. Most of them are handled by the human immune system without a problem, but sometimes… that protection system fails to protect us. Even bacteria that live within our bodies can be extremely harmful if they get into an area not used to them. That is why a burst appendix is so potentially deadly.
        One thing I do not need is constant reminders the COVID is out there. I cannot turn on the radio or TV without hearing about it, I cannot use the internet without seeing stuff about it. I almost long for the days before the election when every ad was from one campaign or the other.

    • As usual, very well said (well, written), CBMTTEK.
      Indeed, not to diminish Mr. Johnson’s anecdotal story, but there are such anomalous severe cases to be found as a result of almost EVERY disease. Yes, this virus appears to be worse than the seasonal flu — but not so much very worse that it mandates the reshaping of society and the overturning of our way of life, not to mention our freedoms.

    • I agree and would add, Johnson, like the 25 year old he mentioned, both nearly went to the hospital. They were not hospitalized, which means they recovered at home, which means they’re both among the 98.5%…just like the Surgeon General told us nearly one year ago.

  4. I don’t know how many out there of the readers has ever gotten a covid test but I got mine today for the first time because I have a procedure done in a hospital and they require it. I don’t recommend it for anyone. It’s like they were shoving battery acid up my nose. In the right hands, the test can prove one thing, that you aren’t sick at that moment in time. nothing else

    • I’ve been tested three times, travel twice and exposure once, and it was not like that. Albeit I have heard same from a number of people.

  5. Come on Greg the test is not that bad. 10 to 15 seconds of swab inside of your nose. I don’t know anybody that said the test was like battery acid. Wow

    • Oh it was bad. Felt like a bottle brush scrubbing my brain with harsh acid . I sneezed and had cold symptoms for 12 hours afterwards. No fun at all.

    • I can assure you there was a burning sensation, my eyes were tearing up, and I’m pretty sure the sticky shoved in there went in at least 4 in. He had me breathe out real heavy while it was in there I’m not sure what that was doing. I like to consider myself a tough guy but this test just about made me wet in my pants.

  6. Thank you for publishing this, Suzanne. It’s a great reminder that taking no precautions is a gamble.

    This disease is real, and some simple precautions can prevent much needless pain and suffering.

    • Actually there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that most of the “precautions” being forced on us do anything to prevent catching this virus. Huge majorities of people who contract it wear masks religiously, for instance. And I use the term “religiously” purposely – masks are nigh a superstition to affect respiratory viral transmission. The things your mother should have taught you about basic hygiene are a lot more likely to protect you from this and most other diseases: wash your hands, cover coughs/sneezes, stay home when you’re sick, eat a good diet and get some fresh air and exercise.
      The only way you can be reasonably sure not to catch this deadly (that is, deadly for well under 1% of people) is to stay home and never interact with anyone. Otherwise, you might get sick – just like has always been the case. Of course, completely isolating yourself is an abnormal lifestyle which carries other risks that really do threaten most people both mentally and physically.

  7. I also sympathize with Mr. Johnson and I will pray for his full recovery. The take away of this story for me is that, yes the virus is out there and it’s very real but it was solely his freedom of decision that allowed him to go celebrate in a crowded venue not the government’s decision to allow or not allow him. By election night many statistics was already out there letting individuals know that the virus could be deadly to some and not as bad to others. Everyone have to take precautions and responsibilities for theirs and their families health. Just like getting into a vehicle everyday. It could be or not be the last vehicle ride.

  8. Mr. Johnson’s body is not generating the antibodies that it needs to fight the pathogens. Even though he seems healthy from what he has described of himself, a month long bout of COVID is exceptionally long. He has a weakened immune system and is therefore not able to properly manufacture the antibodies that he needs to ward off the virus and successfully heal. I wish him the best!

  9. I wear only wear a mask when small businesses and schools are fully open. Whatever happens, happens. What’s life here on earth worth while my neighbors lives are collapsing anyway because of rigid (uncompassionate) mandates, reduced, and closed service.

  10. This article is not news to me and I’m a conservative. Most conservatives probably feel the same way. I’ve taken the virus seriously the moment it was obvious it was spreading all over the world. It is a natural disaster (maybe a proof of concept laboratory disaster), not a liberal scam. The liberal scam is how it has been handled. The reason why conservatives want to be nonchalant about the whole thing is to prove it is going to run it’s course and for some it has sounded like a boy who has cried wolf because instead of measuring the risk, liberals have decided to only ratchet up fear and finger pointing as much as the can and label every death as a death that was preventable. I had a sobering moment when I realized this is an additional disease we are going to have to contend with and many people will have to die and/or suffer that didn’t before. Some people just can’t accept that. Protect yourself and take a measured approach but realize life is full of risks and we can never remove all risks. He is an exception. Not a rule. .2% that are exposed need the hospital. And according to a Wall Street journal 54 people have supposedly gotten it twice out of millions and millions of cases, yet left leaning doctors will tell you “you can get it twice.” Why do they do that is the question and the issue. Hysteria is a real thing. Hysteria is a real disease. Fear is not the answer. Measured personal precautions and treatment is the answer, not finger pointing. That stuff is for the flakey hysterical characters in a zombie movie.

    • Well said. Some people only learn from experience, we all knew the risks for months and months before election day apparently Mr. Johnson needed to learn for himself…hopefully it doesn’t cost him his long term health or worse.
      History has shown that global pandemics are a known quantity and they appear on a fairly regular basis. It’s sad that so many have either tried to or were sucked into believing this is a matter of politics. Politicians have no doubt tried and in many cases succeeded in making political hay out of this.

      • Steve-O, history (especially recent history) has also shown that power-hungry politicians and other sociopaths are ALWAYS ready to capitalize on any crisis to advance and tighten their power and control. If anyone by now cannot see that happening today, in this situation, then they are either amazingly ignorant or wildly naive.

    • Well stated, Justin.

      While I sympathise with those who have had serious health events during this pandemic, I am 83 and realize that I will die of something eventually. We know friends who have died in isolation this year from non-covid health problems. I will try to get the best information available, use common sense, try to take reasonable measures to protect my health and my other half, i.e. not putting off regular medical checkups and eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, etc. However, I will not live in fear and being a total fearful recluse which is what most of the media are promoting.

      The impact of shutting down our schools will be felt for a generation especially with the most vulnerable of our society as the high school dropout rate escalates. We have just begun to see the impact of “shut down” policies on our national economy and on other major health issues. The data is starting to show around the world that the virus spreads and recedes pretty much independent of what governments do.

      Life is full of risks. Now-one can predict the future. The signers of the Declaration of Independence knew they were signing a death warrant if they didn’t succeed in their quest for independence from the English Crown. As a nation we need to toughen up!

  11. The effects of COVID vary for many. I know of remarkably fit individuals who were greatly challenged by COVID, whereas others had milder symptoms. On 11/21 I was filling good and had made plans to donate blood that day, but did not, as I ended up with COVID. By the afternoon I had a fever, low energy, and body ache. Hearing that healthcare advice tends to be “go home, drink lots of fluids, and wait it out” that I decided to stay home, drink lots of fluids, rest, and power down Vitamin D, C, zink, aspirin, and Advil / hot shower (every 4 hours). Today, I am much better, yet amazed how it zapped ones strength. COVID is real. Empowering our immune system is real too. There is a lot of talk as to what are the symptoms and hysteria of isolation, but not enough talk as to empowering our amazing God given immune system. The three point attack to this virus is: Protection (distance, mask, mindfulness), Empowerment of Immune System, and Chronic Treatment / Vaccine. The first two are attainable and can overcome on their own. As I leave soon for Juneau in January, I am encouraged to have immunity and will continue to empower it daily.
    Be empowered and informed.

  12. LONDON (Reuters) -Britain’s medicine regulator has advised that people with a history of significant allergies do not get Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine after two people reported adverse reactions on the first day of rollout.

    • How many people received the injection? Without that context that info is not terribly useful.
      Or like the rest of the info concerning this virus, are we just expected to be terrified of the vaccine now because someone we have never met had a bad reaction.

  13. Thank you Steve for sharing your story. Clint and I are keeping you in prayer for complete recovery soon. Even though none of us wants government mandates, we should not need them. We should be mindful and use caution without them. Covid is real and it is random. Despite how it is being used politically, as a scapegoat, etc. it is here and can be bad news for many.

  14. I don’t know anyone who denies there’s a virus going around which affects people differently depending on many different factors. The problem is the disinformation and outright lies being incessantly repeated (as well as censoring all opposing views) by the government, media, and health officials, who’ve caused the people to distrust those who claim they’re here to keep us safe and healthy by removing our individual liberties. More alarmingly, successful, safe, early outpatient treatment has been banned by these same authorities, contrary to all the evidence and medical history treating a virus. While mandating practices which science clearly shows doesn’t work and causes much harm and death (i.e. lockdowns, small business and church closures, and mask mandates), they deny the early treatment which significantly reduces risk of death.

    • Well said Rene!

      You know, at first I pretty much accepted all the mandates, dictates and corporate media-instilled paranoia, but the more and more I observe the situation, and examine the statistics and not just all the anecedotal stories in the corporate media designed to prey on emotion and fear rather than reason, the more I realize that this so-called pandemic is largely (not completely) the product of a carefully coordinated and orchestrated fearmongering campaign, most likely to destabilize our society and inure us to the loss of freedom, all in preparation for and/or as part of “The Great Reset” that globalist sociopaths have been planning and discussing for a number of years now.

  15. I’ll take my chances. I’m not crawling in a hole in fear. Yes a few get sick, so what? I will not wear that stupid, less than worthless mask. The so-called pandemic is over.

  16. And then there are those that spend weeks with multiple people and test negative over and over again. The point is, it’s a crap shoot. You might be the lucky one, or then again you might not be. I’m that lucky person, but I don’t feel smug about it I feel blessed. Science and reality are clear, don’t poo poo CoVid. Thanks for the article.

  17. I’m 56 with asthma, got COVID, and had symptoms for a half day. Why, I’m healthy, exercise daily, take daily vitamin supplements, and get annual blood tests. With a thorough blood test you can find weaknesses in your body and immune system. If this guy got so sick, I fully imagine he had some type of underlying deficiency.

  18. The part that is left out of this story is did he get any treatment for it or did he just sit home and try to get through it?
    There are multiple treatments available for it that would shorten and lessen the effects.

  19. Hi Suzanne,
    I’m wondering why my comment was “disappeared”, and if I broke a rule about commenting on your site.
    It was here briefly, and then vanished.

    • Tim, that same kind of thing appears to happen to my comments here all of the time — they appear, then disappear, then appear again, then disappear again, etc.
      First, you should know that while your comment may appear to be posted immediately upon being submitted, it is in fact in ‘purgatory’ until Suzanne reviews it, which could take up to a day. Secondly, I have had some apparently disappeared comments of mine reappear after I refreshed my screen — you may want to try doing that. But there does seem to be something inherently ‘buggy’ here with comments coming and going into visibility.

    • That’s because Suzanne likes to screen all comments before they’re posted and censor anything that goes to far against her point of view. It’s quite ironic.

  20. A fellow I logged with 50 years ago often said he was too tough to care. He mostly said that when he got hurt, something that happens to one degree or another daily when logging. I always told him that instead he was merely too numb to know. Two years ago he was loading one of his skidders on to his low-boy and somehow it rolled off to crush him against a log shovel. I think he was 68. The line between bravado and being tough is not all that clear.

  21. I worship The LORD Jesus Christ and not Cesar, so for all you out there that want to wear a mask go for it that’s the beauty of this country we are allowed GOD GIVEN RIGHTS by men and women who gave in various sacrifices in times of war and some gave all.

    I was of the last generation to come home at the end of the Vietnam era our dads came home from WWII and Korea and their dads came home from WWI and their dads came home from the fields during the Civil war and their dads from the Revolutionary war. I have a long line of family that served when this nation called.

    Events in my life and medical science have both pondered as to why I am not dead, even I have pondered that thought many times and to have lived long enough to see my children and their children and their children’s children tells me that GOD alone has intervened.
    So in conclusion to the little gal in Carrs in the black tights and long black hair and black mask who saw fit to show your indignation towards myself and my wife whom we ignored know we don’t judge your lack of understanding we haven’t walked in your shoes but know this you haven’t walked in mine or my wifes either and when GOD calls you home you can have all the surgeons in the world around you it wont matter nothing hinders the the LORD.

    • Do we lose in the US the amount of folks who died on 9/11 every day during flu season? Because that is where we are with Covid now.

  22. The Ferrari CEO just stepped down as he has been suffering from Covid for some time. He simultaneously resigned as board chairman of Phillip Morris for the same reason. At least for this fellow the Chinese flu must be severe and have apparent longer term implications.

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