County Commissioner Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) was cooking butter basil shrimp Thursday night when he realized he couldn’t taste his own dinner.

“I was like, ‘I know I haven’t made this recipe in a long time, but I don’t think my cooking is this bland,'” he said.

Calvert tested positive for the novel coronavirus Friday with a rapid test from an urgent care center. He had felt sick before then but chalked the symptoms up to cedar allergies. It wasn’t until he lost his sense of taste that he realized it might be something else.

“I’ve got one of those big popcorn things, and I couldn’t taste the caramel [popcorn] but I could taste it [Wednesday night],” Calvert said. “And then I tried the cheddar and I couldn’t taste the cheddar. I said, ‘Oh God, let me try one more thing.’ So I went to the pecans that were chocolate covered. And then I was like, ‘Lord, don’t say I can’t taste the chocolate-covered pecans.’ So Friday morning I woke up at about a quarter to 6 and got a test and that came back positive.”

Calvert notified his staff, County staff members he had met with earlier last week, and the rest of the commissioners of his diagnosis. County Judge Nelson Wolff and Commissioners Justin Rodriguez (Pct. 2) and Trish DeBerry (Pct. 3) told the San Antonio Report that they took coronavirus tests and received negative results. Commissioner Rebeca Clay-Flores (Pct. 1) did not return a request for comment. 

Calvert attended Commissioners Court on Jan. 12, but the desks of each commissioner are spaced 6 feet away from each other, which made transmission of the virus less likely, he said. Calvert has chosen to use videoconference technology for his other meetings, he said.

Because most of his work has been done remotely, his schedule hasn’t changed much since he started feeling poorly, Calvert said. He also began feeling better on Sunday. Calvert believes that he was exposed to the virus on Jan. 3 by a friend who received a positive result on Jan. 6. Since then, he’s been monitoring himself for any potential symptoms, Calvert said.

Calvert has been self-isolating at home since Friday. He has refrained from venturing outside his home even before his positive test result, he said, turning down invitations for social outings as recently as last week. Friends have delivered fruit baskets and other goodies to him as he slowly regains his sense of taste.

“I just had some Korean barbecue,” he said cheerfully.

Calvert plans to get another coronavirus test on Friday, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be back in Commissioners Court next Tuesday. 

“I will take it under advisement of my doctor,” he said.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.