Carolyn Vigil was lying in bed next to her husband when she first saw the meme. It noted West Virginia had no reported cases of coronavirus, and jokingly pleaded for its people to hang on. She remembers it so well because it's the day her husband James began to feel sick in their Shepherdstown home in the West Virginia panhandle. Her husband was sick from Covid-19. But her "coronavirus-free" state wasn't set up to test him. He would become the state's Patient #1. They didn't know it then, of course, nor did anyone else. But in the following days they felt like that they were the only people in the state who wanted to find out. From medical professionals who simply had no information to health administrators in the same boat, all the way up to the President saying the state was doing a good job for having no cases. And all the while, Patient #1 -- James Vigil -- was there for the testing.
That evening, James had gone straight to bed when he'd gotten home from work. He'd had a bad headache, his sinuses bothering him and achy.
Carolyn heard him wheeze, and while she knew he had asthma, it hadn't been an issue in a long time. "I reached over and he was hot, I mean hot to the touch," Carolyn tells CNN. "I took his temperature and it was 104."
That's when she knew something wasn't right, and likely the memes about West Virginia not having coronavirus -- as all the other states began to record cases -- weren't either. "I'm pretty sure the guy I'm lying next to has it," she remembers thinking. That night would begin a wife's quest to find out if her husband James, 53, had coronavirus. CNN could not verify the full account due to privacy laws that prevent health officials from disclosing details about patients. Carolyn's journey is one story behind how and why West Virginia had no reported cases for so long.