Military policeman. Installation commander. Manufacturing company president.COVID-19 victim.From his earliest days as a military police officer in Panama to stints in Afghanistan and Iraq, Col. John Cavedo, who commanded U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center from 2009 to 2012, experienced his share of physical discomfort during more than three decades in the Army.When he retired from uniform in 2018, he took a job as president of a defense manufacturing company in Michigan with 150 employees. He had gained weight without daily PT, but otherwise he was healthy and life was good.“I took no medications. I’m slightly overweight and middle-aged: those were my only underlying conditions.”When the COVID-19 crisis hit in mid-March, he instituted telework at his company for those whose job functions permitted it to help flatten the curve of new infection in the community and keep his workforce healthy. Of the four subordinates he worked in closest physical proximity to, only one had a slight cough that last day in the office.“Her co-workers were making fun of her like, ‘that’s a COVID cough!’” he recalled. “Well, it turns out it probably was.”Much later all four of the employees took antibody tests that indicated they had been exposed to the virus that has upended the world in 2020, even though none ever displayed the more distressing and frightening effects that COVID can bring: pneumonia, blood clots, respiratory failure. Cavedo, on the other hand, was about to face a rougher fight.It took nearly two weeks before he showed any symptoms. During this incubation period, life went on in the new normal. Mindful of the 65 employees whose job on the factory floor didn’t allow for telework, he continued going to the office every day, but otherwise stayed at home except for two trips to the grocery store. He wore a face mask and practiced social distancing at all times. As March became April he made good on a promise to fight the weight gain he had experienced after retiring from the Army.“The first week of April I started a new workout regimen. That weekend I thought, ‘I really pushed myself this week’—my body was sore, my back hurt, my triceps were sore.”The aches intensified at work that Monday. Fatigue began to set in.“When I came home from work, I was absolutely exhausted.”It was unlike him, but he went to bed at 6:00 that evening. More than 11 hours later, his body still ached and he had a slight fever. He stayed home from work the next two days. When he woke up Thursday morning, the nagging body aches persisted, but his temperature was normal. He brushed off his wife Stephanie’s skepticism and went to the office.“I thought maybe it was allergies, maybe it was a slight cold. I’m the president of my company-- I didn’t want my team to think I was missing in action. Leaders sometimes push themselves too far to not abandon their team.”He socially-distanced from the employees and wore a mask as he walked around the shop floor, but retreated to his office as his body aches and fatigue intensified. When he began to have a slight, but persistent dry cough he went to the county health department to be swabbed for COVID-19.“That evening I felt really bad. The next morning I was coughing constantly.”The body aches got even worse and the fever returned, then broke over the weekend. But the coughing intensified and his breathing became labored. On Sunday evening, he got the call from the health department: he was COVID positive.“I asked them if hospitalization was going to be necessary. They said it wouldn’t unless I got significantly worse.”He did. The next morning he was stricken in his home office as he tried to coordinate things at work. He tried to walk upstairs to bed, but was floored before he could make it.“I had a scary feeling like someone was sitting on my chest and holding a bag over my head,” he recalled.His wife rushed him to the emergency room. Worried that he had suffered a heart attack, the staff monitored him until night had fallen. His blood oxygen levels were abnormal, but not low enough to justify being administered oxygen: When he seemed to stabilize, he was discharged.“They had a good many COVID patients that were in much worse condition than I was and said that unless something else happened they wanted to send me home.”Over the next few days he seemed to improve. He was able to work from home a few hours per day and felt optimistic that he had turned the corner. By Friday night, though, the intense coughing returned with a vengeance. In the wee hours of Saturday morning he was feeling intense pain in his back, under his scapula, and around his right rib cage. He thought he had pulled a rib from coughing. When his breathing became labored as it had on Monday, his wife took him back to the ER, where a CT scan showed he had a pulmonary embolism and pulmonary infarction of his right lung.“I was very lucky that my complications weren’t worse. If I had never gone in and just pushed through the pain, another clot could have killed me.”Blood thinners eventually treated the clots, though not without days and days of purple-hued legs. By the following Tuesday he began to feel progressively better. His wife had felt ill, but tested negative for COVID, and their daughters remained healthy. After two weeks, he returned to work as normal, though his right lung is scarred from the infarction.Cavedo hopes that his story will encourage others to closely monitor their own health during the pandemic.“Don’t ignore symptoms for days like I did. Body aches, low-grade fever, and fatigue are tell-tale signs, and I ignored them.”More importantly, though, Cavedo hopes that people will wear a face covering whenever social distancing isn’t possible for the duration of the pandemic.“You wouldn’t want to be one of those people who gave it to your friend or co-worker who turns out to be the one who dies from it. If keeping your distance and wearing an annoying mask in a hot environment can save your co-worker’s life or keep the mission from failing, it is a small price to pay. I look at a face mask as part of PPE—it’s no different from wearing steel-toed shoes or safety glasses on a shop floor.”