Preschool teacher survives COVID-19 after waiting nine days to get tested
UAPB Child Development Center preschool teacher, Antoinette Oliver, has always been the type of person who only associated with a few close friends and for the most part stayed to herself. Up to the day Oliver found out she was positive for COVID-19, she was convinced she was just experiencing allergy symptoms.
On March 27, Oliver said she texted her best friend because she wasn’t feeling well.
“My body didn’t feel right but I thought it was just allergies so I left it alone,” said Oliver.
Throughout the day, Oliver said she began to experience really bad migraines.
“My eyeballs started to ache and I had a sore throat,” said Oliver. “I still thought it was allergies.”
As days passed, Oliver’s symptoms began to worsen.
“I started vomiting but thought it was something I ate,” she said.
On March 30th Oliver decided to self-isolate herself, not because she thought she had the virus, but because she didn’t feel good, relating the symptoms to allergies.
That day she had limited activity, only going to work to distribute AMI packets to the parents of her students.
“I wasn’t able to breathe as well. It was really heavy on my chest,” said Oliver. “Even though I hadn’t had a breathing episode since I was a kid I thought because I was getting older my asthma was coming back.”
According to the CDC, people with moderate to severe asthma may be at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. COVID-19 can affect your respiratory tract (nose, throat, lungs), cause an asthma attack, and possibly lead to pneumonia and acute respiratory disease.
According to an allergist, though some of the symptoms may be similar, allergies are generally prolonged, whereas COVID-19 symptoms are contracted and progress more seriously over a shorter period of time.
In a previous interview, Dr. Gene France, an allergist with Little Rock Allergy and Asthma Clinic, said allergy patients could also have coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, which is similar to COVID-19 symptoms, but said a person would have these more severe allergy symptoms every season.
"You can have shortness of breath if you have asthma, but typically, you know you have asthma. It's not an acute onset, like it is with a coronavirus infection," said Dr. France. "The fever and shortness of breath is the major difference. You don't have fever with allergies."
Oliver said as days progressed she began to lose her sense of smell and appetite. In addition, Oliver said it was hard for her to do the dishes and she became so weak she couldn’t even put on her socks.
“I didn’t think I had the virus because I hadn’t been around anyone,” said Oliver. “My last day of school was March 11 and I hadn’t been gathering in large groups of 10 or more.”
On April 3rd, Oliver decided to call her doctor because she felt she had pneumonia, which she stated she had once before.
“I called my doctor and told him my symptoms,” said Oliver. “A prescription was called in for me and I went to Wal-Mart to pick it up.”
By April 3rd, Oliver said she was experiencing fever temperatures of 103, taking Tylenol to try to reduce her fever to no avail.
“I couldn’t get it down, no matter how much Tylenol I was taking,” said Oliver “It wouldn’t go down and I don’t usually get fevers.”
Oliver said she also developed blisters on her neck, diarrhea, cold sweats and chills.
After a few days and consulting with her line sister, Oliver made up her mind to go get tested.
On April 5, Oliver went to a COVID-19 testing tent where she was tested for the flu, strep throat and COVID-19.
“I received my flu and strep test results back the same day,” said Oliver. “My flu test was negative but my strep test was positive so I was like ok, I have strep. So that explains it.”
Oliver mind was made up that she only had strep throat but still kept herself self-isolated until her COVID-19 results came back.
“I didn’t want to be ignorant and go out and kick it,” said Oliver who explained she was feeling better and most of her symptoms were gone during the two days that she waited for her results.
“The only thing I had going on with me was tightening in my chest but that was starting to ease up,” said Oliver.
Between her constant water intake and the medicine prescribed by her doctor, Oliver said with that and her body naturally fighting the virus is how she managed her symptoms.
When Oliver’s results returned positive for COVID-19 she said she immediately began calling those she had been in contact with.
“I called my friends to make sure they were ok and to let them know what was going on with myself,” said Oliver. “I contacted my co-worker because I made contact with her on March 30 and my parents because I was in contact with them on March 30 when I was passing out AMI packets.”
According to Oliver, everyone that she spoke to said they were feeling fine and she was happy that she didn’t infect anyone.
Even though Oliver states she was feeling better when she received her results, she still had to quarantine for 14 days.
“I didn’t like the quarantine process because I had already started the process on the 30th but once I received my test results back I had to start all over,” said Oliver. “They started me on April 5 and it was hard because I am used to going out to go walk and I wasn’t able to walk. I was getting tired of watching TV and my body was tired of laying down because I started to get sore.”
Oliver did however say she was thankful that she could heal at home instead of a hospital.
“Being in the hospital, you are confined to a bed,” said Oliver. “At home I was able to move around. When I found out I had it, I was already feeling better so I was cooking, doing karaoke in my house and dancing.”
When Oliver was called with her positive results, she was informed someone from the Arkansas Department of Health would contact her with further instruction.
“When you are positive, you are assigned a caseworker from the health department,” said Oliver. “My symptoms and fever were monitored during the 14-day process.
Oliver said her friends also helped her through the process, shopping for her and leaving her items at her doorstep.
On day 14, Oliver’s case worker evaluated her and sent a request for her release.
On April 20th, Oliver received her discharged letter from the Arkansas Department of Heath which read:
Dear Ms. Antoinette Oliver,
The Arkansas Department of Health is happy to inform you that you have completed your period of home isolation as of 4/20/2020. Since you have completed this period and your symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are resolving, you now meet the CDC and ADH criteria to be released from home isolation. You are now able to return to normal activities, such as work and school. We strongly recommend that you wear a cloth mask whenever you are in a public setting, especially in settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Information about how to make and wear a cloth mask can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html. If you are a health care worker, your employer may ask you to meet additional requirements. Please contact your supervisor before returning to work. Thank you for your cooperation in assuring the health of the public. We know it was a significant hardship to isolate yourself at home for this much time, and we sincerely appreciate your cooperation. Please feel free to show this letter to your employer or others if they require proof that you have finished your home isolation period and are free to return to normal activities. You may contact the ADH COVID-19 call center at 1-800-803-7847 if you have any questions or concerns pertaining to COVID-19.
“I'm not even going lie, I was ready to check out of here and I wasn't afraid,” said Oliver. “I only told a few people because I didn't want anybody to panic.”
Oliver said getting her clearance forms from The Arkansas Department of Health felt good and as she enters back out into society she will social distance and wear a mask.
“Don't be discouraged about the virus,” said Oliver. “There are people out here that's surviving it…I’m living proof. Good looking out, God.”