Coronavirus Survivor: Award-winning music producer lives through COVID-19

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SOUTH SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Dave Evanoff, an award-winning local music producer, musician, composer, and performer, survived COVID-19. He and his wife took coronavirus seriously before most people, they were both early adopters of face coverings, washing your hands, and social distancing. 

But, an innocuous thing during the course of work, let the disease slip through.

Dave spoke with ABC4 News from his studio:

“At first my lungs felt like there was simply a cough caught in them, that I couldn’t get up. It was a slight irritation, not unlike maybe hay fever or you know just this little annoyance, and then it became full-on crackly pain.

Dave owns David Evanoff Sound Designs a successful recording studio in Salt Lake City for 30 years. His company produces music for film television and special events.

He is considered to be one of the best audio engineers, musicians, and performers in the region. Many of the commercials and productions worked on in Salt Lake have his creative work in the music and sound.

It was his proficiency, known across the nation that brought him face to face with the virus.

Dave told us, “I was working on a record with a producer from Interscope records out of New York, and we had set up a schedule for him to come in with some local talent, and a singer that he was bringing in, and ironically part of the idea was to work in Utah because New York was such a hotbed for COVID.”

The main artist for the project was from Utah,  so the decision was made to work in South Salt Lake. The team worked for four days in the studio,  they were masked most of the time. Dave pointed out that “most of the time” is an important part of the story.

The artists had masks on unless they were in a sound-booth Unbeknown to any of them the producer had COVID-19 at the time he was asymptomatic. He said he felt fine. They worked Wednesday, Thursday Friday, Saturday on Monday everything changed for Dave.

“Monday I got up it was a normal day, I felt pretty good, I felt fine, I went for a jog and went to a cross-fit class online in my basement. But by about two o’clock I started to feel strange,  I really can’t describe it other than to say it was strange. I was exhausted I was so tired, and I felt weird. I called my wife and she said I am scheduling you a COVID test.”

Dave went to get his test at about 5 p.m. that night. By the time he got home is wife had isolated him in the basement. The next day, Evanoff received a phone call from the producer in New York City and he was in the hospital positive with COVID-19. 

Dave said, “I knew it was coming.”  But acknowledged that is how the virus came his way. He added, “I was the only one who ever took their mask off, it was to eat a slice of pizza or maybe it was to communicate a little better, and I would slide the mask down, and the producer did the same.”

Both would pull down their masks to talk to the talent. The singer, the people with the singer all our musicians, always had their masks on except when the singer was singing and was isolated in the booth.

“I was the only one that got it and that was because unfortunately, I took my mask off from time to time!” 

Between Wednesday and Monday Evanoff was sick, it hit him, hard. Dave said by Monday he was so tired he rarely got off the couch or the bed they had put together in the basement to quarantine him. Oppressed exhaustion is how he described it.

“Like an elephant was sitting on my chest, it was hard to breathe it hurt to breathe, but my oxygen levels never got low enough I had to go to the hospital.” Dave said, “It hurt to breathe, a deep breath was just all across my chest, and then it got deeper,  and it was an oppressive weight, I would lie on the couch and just to breathing exercises, yoga breaths to try and breathe as deep as I could, I wanted to work through it but, but, for that first week it was just pressing.”

Dave seems to relieve the pain when he talks about what it was like, he continues:

“…right here in the middle of my chest, and every breath hurt, just…not pins and needles but, it was like…it felt to me like there was cellophane in my lungs and I had to break it away to get the breath in.” 

Evanoff shook his head telling the story…”it was weird.”

After catching COVID-19 he was 2 weeks down where he was just sick, sometimes he had enough energy to get up and walk around the house or walk down to the third level in their house, walk to a different television. Dave says he would do these things and the exhaustion would overwhelm him and he would have to lay down.

In the third week Dave said he felt pretty good, and he was able to spend a few minutes working

“I can equate it to like if you have a cold sore, which is a virus and at times of stress or sickness that cold sore might come back. That’s how I feel now,  a couple of months later. If I find myself  stressed or tired, my lungs start to hurt again and the exhaustion comes back and I have to lay down.”

While working Dave has had to ask for a 15-minute break, he says he has been told the exhaustion will pass but he thinks it is really annoying because in production “stress kind of comes along with the gig.” 

Now Dave is taking no chances, everyone that comes to his studio wears a mask all the time. 

Reflecting on the two weeks he had it, he lost friends across the country, He said it was terrifying to know a guitar player who was 15 years younger than he was passed away.  He mentioned an even younger fitness instructor who is in her 30’s and she was admitted to go on a ventilator.

“It was terrifying and I just kept my fingers crossed, it was going to feel better the next day. Because I did not want to end up in the hospital being assisted with my breathing.”

Dave has a message for those who deny COVID-19 is real.

“The deniers and folks like that, I get it, it’s scary and you don’t want to think about it,  and you hope it’s not going to affect you, I certainly did, but I made a mistake,  and caught it, but please the only thing we have to protect us right now is the mask, and I know that there are treatments in the works and that there’s potential vaccine, hopefully, next year, but right now, it’s that mask that is going to save us all from contracting it from somebody else.”

“In my case the gentleman he’s awesome! He’s a great friend of mine,  he didn’t know,  didn’t know he was bringing it right here into the office, and I was so lucky, now I feel, that I could have taken it out of here and given it to other people but I didn’t, because I wear mask!”

Everyone else who worked with Dave and the Producer were fine, they did not catch COVID-19,    Dave says he is very glad none of the rest of them had to go through it.

Now the two of them are healed and the others out of danger, work has resumed on the music project.  Dave points out they are all wearing their masks.  

Evanoff shared a final thought for everyone, 

My friends who say I think I’ve had it already, I’m telling you man…you haven’t had it, it’s no flu.”

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Tracy Smith
Tracy T. Smith is an award winning content producer/storyteller. He has a passionate interest in all things narrative and loves writing, photography, cinematography and visual storytelling.

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