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'Be mindful': Cayuga County's second COVID-19 case shares her story
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PUBLIC HEALTH

'Be mindful': Cayuga County's second COVID-19 case shares her story

Virus Outbreak Tennessee

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February shows the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S.

First came a slight fever. Then chills, then aches.

Then, a week after she returned to Auburn on spring break from SUNY New Paltz, Anna Streeter lost her senses of smell and taste.

The 20-year-old didn't think she had coronavirus, or COVID-19. She had never heard of people losing those senses as a symptom.

But two days after she did, Streeter learned she had indeed tested positive for the virus that's become a worldwide pandemic. She was the second of four confirmed cases in Cayuga County so far.

Since then, Streeter has made a full recovery. She was released from mandatory isolation on March 27, her symptoms gone. She feels back to normal today. But as the pandemic continues, she shared her story with The Citizen in hopes of helping the community understand the virus and the measures officials are taking to control it. 

"People who have the virus do not show all the common symptoms," Streeter said. "If you are experiencing no sense of smell and taste, and have no other symptoms at all, I would recommend staying isolated and getting a test if possible."

Streeter said she caught COVID-19 at New Paltz, where she is a sophomore. A few days after her symptoms emerged, she received an email from the Hudson Valley college telling her she had been exposed to a professor who tested positive for the virus. 

Even before the email, Streeter said, her doctor and family encouraged her to get tested for COVID-19 based on her fever, chills and aches. The possibility was in the back of her mind, but she thought it was more likely a cold. She took the test anyway. While many have encountered difficulty taking it, Streeter said it was easy for her, as her doctor happened to have tests available.

A few days after the test, she lost her senses of smell and taste. Then, late in the evening of March 21, Streeter learned she had tested positive. 

"I was pretty shocked," she said. "I didn't let myself believe that I actually had this virus that was affecting and killing so many people."

She was contacted by the Cayuga County Health Department the next day. The department wanted to know Streeter's symptoms, she said, and anyone she had been in direct contact with recently. As a result, her parents have been placed in quarantine in Auburn until April 7, and three of her friends from New Paltz have been quarantined for two weeks as well. Neither her parents nor her friends have shown any symptoms, Streeter said.

Her own quarantine took effect retroactively on March 14, when she first showed symptoms. Through her release on March 27, she was phoned daily by a nurse with the county, who asked Streeter what symptoms she was showing and whether she had the food and cleaning supplies she needed. A county employee also visited her house every day to make sure she and her parents were confining themselves there. 

Cayuga County Public Health Director Kathleen Cuddy said individuals who violate orders of mandatory isolation or quarantine will be brought before a judge for a supplemental court order. Depending on the case, the individual could return home with security paid for by the county. If they violate the court order, they could go to jail. But there has yet to be a violation of the county's isolation or quarantine orders, Cuddy added.

"Fortunately, we have very informed and cooperative citizens who want to do the right thing," she said.

When her quarantine ended, Streeter received a letter from the county saying she's no longer under any travel restrictions. She's read that her recovery could mean she's now immune to COVID-19, but she's not taking any chances. She'll remain home, staying busy with her studies. Like other campuses in the SUNY system, New Paltz has shifted to distance learning for the rest of the spring semester. So Streeter is continuing her coursework in communication disorders online, and hopes to become a speech-language pathologist after graduating.

What Streeter won't do is risk spreading the virus that turned her world upside down for two weeks. Though her symptoms weren't serious, and she never feared for her life, she understands that not everyone will be so lucky with COVID-19.

"Even if you think you feel OK and continue to go out, be mindful of the other people who may be at serious risk because of your actions," she said.

Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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I edit The Citizen's features section, Lake Life, and weekly entertainment guide, Go. I've also been writing for The Citizen and auburnpub.com since 2006, covering arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.

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