LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As of Friday, 96 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19.
One of them is a doctor at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
“It can happen to any of us.” — That’s what Dr. Ashleah Courtney wants people at home to know.
“It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t have a preference for any particular person that it infects,” she said.
The pediatric resident physician at Arkansas Children’s Hospital said she always had a feeling this day would come.
“I knew it was going to happen eventually, but I didn’t think it was going to happen this soon because I felt like I was doing everything I possibly could to avoid it,” she said.
Courtney followed all the guidelines, from showering when she got home to leaving her shoes at the front door.
“It’s important for me to remind myself that we were, it’s just very contagious and hard to avoid,” she said.
It all changed on March 26.
That’s when Courtney began to self-quarantine after a sore throat and headache, thinking it was just the Arkansas pollen.
“Overnight that night, I started to run a fever and I kind of thought, hmm maybe there’s something more to this,” she said.
Courtney was tested the next morning and two days later, the results were in.
“I think my initial response was a lot of anxiety and guilt,” she said.
The healthy 30-year-old was nervous she could be one of the outliers.
Courtney said the emotions of isolation began to kick in.
“Once I got the results back, it was the feeling of, ‘Do I tell people?’ And then, ‘Are people going to assume that I haven’t been doing everything that I should be doing?'” she said.
With the road to recovery ahead and her sense of taste finally coming back, Dr. Courtney is pleading for Arkansans to listen to the experts.
“Really, the biggest thing people can do is stay at home and stop the spread, so we are at less of a risk of getting it,” she said.
Courtney said the first day was the worst, but she has had mild symptoms; including fatigue, muscle ache, and loss of appetite.
While this diagnosis wasn’t part of the learning plan, Dr. Courtney hopes to study infectious diseases someday as part of her career.