Blog: WINK News reporter documents COVID-19 illness, faces testing woes

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia
Published: Updated:

It’s what everyone’s talking about and what I’ve reported on for the past five months: COVID-19. And now, I, like thousands of other people in the state, am confirmed positive. Everyone’s body reacts differently. Here’s my story.

It all started Wednesday. Apart from the physical symptoms including the hot flashes, the fever, and the body aches that make you cry all day, the mental exhaustion and anxiety is almost just as crippling.

You’re in complete isolation from everything, stuck in your own thoughts about how you now have the virus that’s taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, people who were taken too soon from their loved ones.

Fortunately, I was a lucky one. I had what most would call a more mild case, with three days of not being able to get out of bed, five days with a piercing headache, and a week and a half with no taste—not bad, all things considering.

Thankfully, the few people that were around me in the days leading up to this, all tested negative. I made sure to tell them as soon as I started feeling symptomatic.

I had “telehealth” visits every day via FaceTime with my godfather who is an ER doctor and his wife who is a registered nurse. They really helped ease my mind and guide me through this scary journey. I probably would’ve checked myself into a hospital after having a panic attack if I didn’t have them.

When it came to testing, I had a not-so-lucky situation. I got tested immediately on Wednesday at a private lab in Fort Myers.

“I’ll pay $150 for convenience and quicker results,” I thought. But just like many other things with this pandemic—that was later proven wrong.

Most labs have the ability to administer a test for COVID-19, but they can’t get results in-house because it is considered “complex” and a certain license is required (as told to me by the owner and lead scientist of the lab).

In this case, the Fort Myers lab actually uses a lab in Washington to provide results. At no fault of the labs, my swab was damaged in transit by the courier. That’s right, after six days of waiting for my results, I had to go back to get re-tested. The lab owner was very apologetic and explained this was the first time it’s happened to them.

To date, I still have not been contacted by contact tracers, six days after I tested positive and 15 days after I started feeling symptoms.

So I want to take the time to say thank you to our front line workers for sacrificing your own health to take care of others. To those who have lost family or friends to this virus, my heart goes out to you. I am so sorry. To those who are doing what they can to protect themselves, keep at it.

I wear my mask. I interact with a limited amount of people. But I could’ve been more careful. And you can too.

We can all get through this together. And together we are #GulfshoreStrong.

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