Testament’s Chuck Billy Talks Coronavirus Diagnosis and Recovery
As one of the highest profile metal musicians to contract COVID-19, Testament frontman Chuck Billy has become something of a spokesperson for the coronavirus within the metal community. Chuck first became ill upon returning from his band’s European tour with Exodus and Death Angel, as did several other members of the touring party (including Exodus’s Gary Holt and Death Angel’s Will Carroll), and though he suffered through some pretty brutal days, he’s now mostly recovered and getting back to “regular” life, whatever that means right now.
Chuck was our guest on this week’s episode of The MetalSucks Podcast, so of course we checked in with him on how his recovery is going. He told us about first getting diagnosed, how uncomfortable getting tested was (“the swab feels like it’s scraping your brain”) and finding camaraderie with other infected tour members while very little public information about the disease was available.
On the early days of having the virus and the uncertainty surrounding it, as well as continuing to stay home even after mostly recovering:
“When we got tested and got the results, the CDC called us twice and our personal doctor called us. They come checking on you, you know, ‘How’re you doing, how’re you feeling?’ And they get all of your information.
“But we’ve been quarantined down from when we got home, because we weren’t ill when we were in Europe. It wasn’t until, I think, the day we landed on [March] 12th when my wife started feeling bad that night or maybe the next day, and by Saturday morning I was feeling bad. And we kind of assumed [we had it], and then in our group email chain other people were starting to feel sick and everybody kind of had the same symptoms. That’s when I was like, ‘oh, great,’ let’s be proactive and call the doctors and see about getting tested. There’s nothing they can do until you have symptoms. Two days later, once we felt like shit, that’s when they finally sent us in to get tested at the drive-through.
MetalSucks: “And that’s what I hear is happening in a lot of places, is that they’re just doing a drive-through, a quick swab and then your results come back…”
“Yeah, a swab through your throat and then up the nostrils, the swab feels like it’s scraping your brain, it’s so annoying.”
MetalSucks: “And so that’s the thing, we don’t know right now and we can only learn by listening, I guess, to the proper things to do.”
Chuck Billy: “Yeah, we’re staying in cause I know we’re not 100%. We’re still… something is lingering so we’re still gonna stay quarantined, stay in as much as we can for as long as we can.”
On sharing symptoms and experiences in real time with his tour mates to help one another get through the experience:
“Yeah, I think all of us, the tour that we did, everybody was in communication with each other: how we’re feeling, what symptoms we were experiencing, without even being tested, figuring out that we’re probably all sick. ‘We tested positive, and it was the same stuff that you’re feeling.’ It’s definitely for the support but also for the knowledge, since it’s so new, you don’t know. And if you know somebody that has it and you can inquire about the symptoms or how long it lasts, because there’s no answer for anything. We didn’t get any medication, we just kind of rode it out until we started getting better.
“They said we can probably go out with masks but it’s like, how do you know we’re not still contagious? I guess we don’t, so let’s just stay in.”
MetalSucks: “Absolutely, man. Yeah, and that’s the thing that a lot of people don’t realize: what Chuck’s saying is that from a healthcare professional, they’re not giving people direct protocol, they’re learning as you guys are sick.”
“I mean, our question was, ‘Can we get it again?’ and they’re like, ‘Well, we just don’t know.’ We don’t have any cases or data for that yet.”
You can listen to the full episode here or below. We continue to wish Chuck all the best in his continued recovery.