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Army veteran taking part in malaria drug trial to treat COVID-19

Yvette Paz tested positive for COVID-19 March 16. She's been documenting her journey in a video diary on Facebook.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — An army veteran battling coronavirus has been keeping a Facebook diary of her illness.

"I feel like there's a war going on inside my body right now," said Yvette Paz of Huntington Beach. 

She started experiencing symptoms March 9, when she woke up with a terrible headache and body aches. 

"You'll start coughing, and when you regain your breath you feel like it's difficult to take in air," she said.

She went to the VA hospital and was tested for COVID-19. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 March 16. 

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"I was completely dumbfounded," she said. "I said 'How on earth, I'm someone who works out daily. I live a very healthy lifestyle."

She began documenting her journey on Facebook. Her videos have been viewed thousands of times.

"The amount of support I've been getting from people has been unbelievable. It's been incredible," she said.

At one point, she ended up in the hospital with severe pneumonia. There were moments she wasn't sure she would survive.

"This is not something where you're surrounded by loved ones. You're completely alone going through this. So if you can imagine the mental wear that does," said Paz.

Five days ago, under the supervision of her doctor, she's among the patients testing whether hydroxychloroquine, a drug to treat malaria, works on coronavirus.

"You do have to fit a certain description to even get it approved for use," she said. "I happened to fit that mold."

"It's a very simple medication to take," she added. "It's a small pill you take with water twice a day."

She admits she was worried about taking part in the clinical trial, but stressed she felt compelled to be a part of something that could potentially help millions of people.

She said doctors noticed her white blood cell count started going up slightly after she started taking the drug. 

"I have been having spurts of energy," she said. "But then all of a sudden I will have a really hard crash. I would say, since I started it I'm feeling so much better, but I'm definitely still fighting it."

Paz said she'll never know where or when she contracted the virus, but points to two large events she attended recently: the Kobe Bryant memorial at Staples Center February 24, and a red carpet movie premiere a short time after.

She's doing her best to remain positive.

"I am coronavirus positive, I have pneumonia I have lung damage and I am not afraid. I'm going to beat this, we're going to be okay," she said.

Her relatives were tested for coronavirus. Their test results came back negative.

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