Last month, Milano revealed that she tested positive for antibodies after taking three other tests that indicated she was negative for the coronavirus. Milano tells ET that she was extremely sick in March and April for six weeks, and called it the most difficult illness she's ever had.
"It comes in stages and it affects different parts of the body at different times," she explains. "Like, first it was my stomach and then I started to feel better a little bit. And then it was my chest. And then I started to feel better a little bit. And you know, just the roller coaster, and now I'm six months out and, you know, I'm what they call a long hauler, I still have a lot of the symptoms. I have heart palpitations and shortness of breath and my hair is falling out. The worst part of all of it is that I have horrible ringing in my ears that is really, really annoying to say the least."
"But I'm doing OK," she continues. "I'm very, very grateful and thankful that I'm here. I would also add that I have a lot of friends that were sick and none of them have completely recovered, so I think that's part of the story that they're not really talking about enough, is, you know, the symptoms after the acute illness, and I don't know if I'll ever be completely one hundred percent back to normal. I hope so. I hope that with time, you know, it passes. But you just don't know."
Milano describes one particularly scary incident when she felt like she couldn't breathe.
"It felt like I was wearing a corset and then I had an elephant on my chest," she recalls. "And I just couldn't get breath in. And I remember looking to my husband, I was like, 'Well, this is it, we're gonna either go to the emergency room or fight through this.' And I got it so early, this was around the time when people went to the emergency room, they were ventilated. And so, you know, they were separated from their families. And so I did not want to go to the emergency room. And so I spoke to my doctor and my doctor said -- I will never forget this as long as I live -- he said to me, 'What do you have in the house?' I said, 'What do I have in the house? I have, uh, Mucinex, I have Tylenol, I have Benadryl, I have a nebulizer for my son's sports asthma and pediatric Albuterol,' and he's like, 'I want you to take everything.' He said, 'I want you to take everything because we don't know what's working.' And so I took everything and it was kind of like that for the next four or five days, where every two hours I was doing a breathing treatment. I was, you know, taking all of that medication. And then finally, you know, every day it got a little easier."
"I have, like, a laser helmet that looks like ... it looks like a hockey helmet that I put on," she says of one of the ways she's trying to prevent more hair loss. "All of this, and I always update my Instagram with things that I'm trying, different supplements. But it's still falling out for sure."
Still, Milano stresses that she knows she is fortunate.
"I want people to just be reminded that there are people that are suffering that don't have healthcare insurance, that don't know how to treat, that are suffering by themselves, that maybe have to go to work because they live paycheck to paycheck and they are spreading this because they don't have protections to not spread it," she says. "There's a lot that has to be thought of when we're considering what this horrible illness is doing to our nation."
Milano has always been outspoken when it comes to activism. Her latest project is "Prom at the Polls," a non-partisan, grassroots, student-led event focused on giving students the unique prom that they deserve, while also encouraging them to vote. The event will be hosted by a youth coalition made up of the organizations OneMillionOfUs and Voters of Tomorrow, along with other youth activists, who launched it on Sept. 22. Subsequently, the coalition will attract attention for the event through social media engagement. The pre-election online party will occur on Nov. 1, leading up to Election Day on Nov. 3 when targeted videos will be released through social media inviting teens and young adults to get to the polls.
"So, how fun is this. I mentor a group of young people that blow me away every single day, but two weeks ago they came up with this idea," Milano shares. "It's very hard to get the youth vote out. And I've been doing this for 20 years, you know, where I campaigned for different candidates and it's always an issue. So, these youths came up with this idea of what was taken from kids because of the pandemic. They didn't get to go to their prom, so they decided that they were going to come up with this initiative called Prom at the Polls where we are giving, first of all, an amazing live-streamed prom, but also to give kids incentive to go vote. We're going to tell them to all put on their prom outfit. We're going to make promposals. You know, kids can prompose to each other ... to go vote in their prom attire and really make it a viral moment that gets young people excited about going."
Milano also already has a plan to make the event go viral -- getting celebrities to post their prom pictures with the hashtag #promatthepoles.
"I didn't go to my prom because I was working at the time and nobody asked me, and that's a whole other story, but, you know, for someone like me who didn't get to experience prom or someone who wants to experience it in a better way, you can make a promposal," she adds. "But not only that, you not only don't have to go to the polls in your prom outfit, you can vote from home and take the selfie in your prom outfit and really just make a viral moment of it. We're trying to make it cool to go vote this year 'cause we need our young people to get out there and vote."
Clearly, Milano has been busy while under quarantine. On Oct. 6, the third and penultimate book of her middle-grade book series, Hope: Project Class President, will also be published. Still, Milano tells ET that much like others in the nation, on top of it all, she's having a hard time processing current events, such as the fight for social justice.
"It's really hard to digest everything that's happening, and on the one hand, I feel really hopeful because we are seeing entire communities rise up and fight oppression, you know?" she says. "On the other hand, we are seeing oppressors also rise up and try to silence us, but, you know, in all my years of activism, I am truly inspired by what I'm seeing right now and also hopeful. And I think we have to be hopeful because that's what keeps us motivated to keep going."
Milano admits that people attacking her for her activism is "hurtful," though she continues to be outspoken about what she believes in.
"But I think that the mission is so much more important than my ego right now, and so I'm trying to stay on target," she notes. "I'm trying to put my head down and get into the good trouble like John Lewis said, and trying to really empower other people to use their voice and make a difference within their circles, with their platforms, because I really believe that you don't need millions of people to change the world following you on Twitter. You can do it at your kitchen table, you can do it around your water cooler, you can do it, you know, on your neighborhood corner. We all have to take responsibility for our circles and hopefully, if enough of us do that, the circles will overlap and the world will be a better place because of that."
Meanwhile, for more on Milano's battle with the coronavirus, watch the video below.