One Garland County resident who recently tested positive for COVID-19 wants to share her experience in hopes of spreading awareness.
The resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said her symptoms started on March 9, three days before the first recorded positive case in Arkansas.
"My first symptom was fatigue," she told The Sentinel-Record in a Facebook message, noting she called her husband a few times that day to tell him how exhausted she was "for no apparent reason."
"My next symptom was a slight tickle in my throat that quickly got worse in one night. I woke up and I remember telling my husband that it felt like I had glass in my throat. That was day three."
By day four, she said she began coughing which caused "a little shortness of breath." That same day, she said she called a hotline number for those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
"I told them my symptoms. That I had no (known) contact with an infected individual and I hadn't traveled out of the state lately. They told me I didn't qualify for the COVID-19 test and that was that. Since the first case wasn't confirmed but one day prior, I just assumed it had to be something else (and) hoped for the best," she said.
On March 17, she said she was finally allowed to test for the virus, nine days after her symptoms began and only after testing negative for RSV, influenza and strep throat.
"They called me with my results three days after getting tested," she said. "I was instructed to promptly have my husband and daughter tested that day and to call every person I had come in contact with and let them know I tested positive for COVID-19. They were to get tested if possible or wait out the 14 days since exposure.
"I was given a prescription for hydroxychloroquine and vitamin D. I received another phone call two days later from the (Arkansas Department of Health) to see how I was feeling and making sure my family and I were continuing to isolate ourselves. They informed me that we would be getting calls every other day to see how we are doing. My husband's test came back negative but we were unable to get my daughter tested so we are to monitor her temperature twice a day for fever."
She said she still doesn't have any idea of where she was exposed spending most of her time at home. While she did have numerous errands to run in the Little Rock and Benton area the week before her symptoms began, "to say that's where I got it is a reach," she said.
When her positive test came back, she was instructed to contact anyone she recently had contact with. Those individuals, she said, self-quarantined until the 14-day window of exposure was up "or until they got a negative result."
"The handful of people who actually got to test tested negative," she said. "The CDC said that they believe that people are most contagious when you are most symptomatic. My symptoms didn't begin until March 9th, thankfully."
While she's still feeling some of her symptoms, she said she wants others not to panic, but to take the pandemic seriously.
"I'm 29 and healthy," she said. "I'm currently 15 days past my first symptom date and I'm still having a little difficulty with taking deep breaths. I still can't laugh without coughing. I was never hospitalized so I would say what I experienced on my toughest days was 'mild.' But for me, it didn't feel mild.
"So if you have underlying issues it can get really, really bad. For most of us it probably won't, but we can't be selfish. I can't imagine if I already had health issues, if my lungs were weak, if I had to watch my baby girl struggle to catch her breath, if my grandmother had to endure what I did. We just have to stay in for a little while to give those at high risk a better chance of getting through this. So, don't panic, stay home, wash your hands and try to make the best of it. That's all we can do."
Local on 03/25/2020