Local man recovering from COVID-19 says ‘listen to everything they’re telling you’


"I was packed in ice to get my fever down," said 41-year-old Donny Riccitelli

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Putting a name and face to a statistic. On Friday, we caught up with one of the 68 people who have COVID-19 in Mahoning County.

Donny Riccitelli, of Boardman, spent five days in the hospital fighting the disease.

“You gotta fight, you gotta fight hard and you have to listen, listen to everything they’re telling you and just get better,” he said.

Riccitelli, 41 years old, graduated from McDonald High School and is an assistant girls basketball coach at Boardman High School.

He is now back home, quarantined in his basement while his wife and three kids are quarantined upstairs.

“Went to Urgent Care last Wednesday and ultimately ended up in the hospital Wednesday night last week,” he said.

His first symptoms — a dry cough — came Saturday, March 14 after being in a crowded place.

When his cough worsened and his temperature hit 104 degrees, he ended up at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Boardman. He was immediately put on oxygen, but was never on a ventilator.

“They ended up switching my medication to the Plaquenil, which is that malaria drug that everybody’s been talking about. They switched that on Thursday night and I slowly started making improvements. Thursday night and Friday night I was packed in ice to get my fever down,” Riccitelli said.

There was a time when he was concerned about his life.

“I was concerned after the doctor, after the first doctor asked me if something were to go awry, if I were to lose my breath or something that would happen to my heart, if they wanted me to be saved. I said absolutely. I have a wife and three kids at home, and that started to get serious then,” he said.

Riccitelli said his cough was not a normal common cold cough.

“Yeah, it’s well beyond that. Like right now, I would not even be able to have a conversation with you. I would be in a total coughing spell right now,” he said.

He was also extremely complimentary of the nurses and doctors at the hospital.

“I gotta tell you that the nurses at St. Elizabeth’s, they did such a phenomenal job. They were so scared and I fell for them because they did such an amazing job coming in, knowing exactly what I needed to control certain things and I can’t thank them enough for that. Were they fully equipped and masked and everything when they were in there? Yes. Not only were they fully equipped, but before they left my room they had to have all of that stripped down, so they could not carry anything out into the other rooms or onto the floor,” Riccitelli said.

He was in the hospital for five days, having dealt with COVID-19 for nine.

But, Riccitelli is feeling much better now. His temperature is back to normal and the doctors expect a full recovery. He has to stay quarantined until March 30 but said he’s going a little longer.

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