Coronavirus outbreak: Social worker takes test, dies while awaiting her results

Updated: 22 March, 2020 16:38 IST | mid-day online correspondent | New Orleans

The activist who has been working as an HIV counselor, had refused to test when she developed the symptoms of the virus while saving kits for more vulnerable patients.

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

A 39-year-old social worker died while waiting for her results after testing for Coronavirus. Natasha Ott, from New Orleans was found dead by her partner Josh Anderson on Friday, he announced in a heartbreaking post on Facebook.

The activist who has been working as an HIV counselor, had refused to test when she developed the symptoms of the virus while saving kits for more vulnerable patients, was quoted by the New Orleans Advertiser.

Anderson announced his partner’s death saying, “Now is the time to keep yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else safe.” Asking people to take the pandemic seriously, Anderson said in the post that Natasha, a former Peace Corps volunteer, was in good health and had first come down with flu-like symptoms on March 10.

He said in the post that Ott described the illness’ symptoms as ‘respiratory cold and she felt that she had a tiny fever. Even as she had a chance to test herself for the deadly virus, she turned it down as she was trying to save the five kits that were remaining for other vulnerable people.

Anderson said that Ott, believing that she was low risk, went to her doctor and got herself tested for flu, which came back negative. She then told Anderson in a text message on March 10 that she did not think, she needed to get tested for coronavirus unless she develops a fever.

But on Sunday, she felt feverish and tired and texted Anderson saying that she not feeling so hot and would test for the virus at work the next day. “I'm probably fine. I just tried to drink some medicinal whiskey and feel unwell. I'm ok. I love you.”

Anderson said in the post that Natasha finally tested for Coronavirus on Monday and on Thursday she was feeling well enough to accompany them and their dog  Zola for a walk. Even though Ott complained that she felt something in her lungs, she told him that she had “more energy than she’d had in days”.

Ott, later on, told Anderson that the test results were delayed that she would get on Monday. On Friday morning Ott updated him on her health saying that she was’ feeling a little better and hopeful’ but stopped replying to his texts for the day.

Worried, Anderson visited Ott to check on her that evening and found her dead on her kitchen floor. “Seeing a woman I knew to be so full of life lying on the floor lifeless was devastating,” he said, adding that even though he was afraid to touch her, he held her.

“Natasha was a profoundly kind, passionate, funny and loving 39-year-old woman in good health...  she loved those who were fortunate enough to be close to her with every ounce of her heart.”

Urging people not underestimate the deadly virus, Anderson said in the post, “The absolute least-interesting thing about her was the way that she died, but I'd like to talk about that here now because I'd like everyone to wake-up to the reality of what we are facing.” Ott was expecting her coronavirus test results to be back by Monday.

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First Published: 22 March, 2020 14:42 IST

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