The thought of testing positive for COVID-19 is scary enough, but one Kansas City woman has been in self-quarantine for almost a month thanks to three consecutive positive tests.
Courtney Klema is a 25-year-old dietitian at Truman Medical Centers. She's been stuck in her apartment since early April. She's waiting to take her fourth test for coronavirus.
"I think the third positive was when I was the most shocked," Klema said. "Just because I think 14 days is a general estimate for most people for how long their symptoms will carry with them and how long they'll test positive for it."
She's well past that mark now. It's been a long month for Courtney, and her family.
"I thought for sure we were going to get it," Courtney's mother, Kathy Klema, said.
Kathy Klema told 41 Action News that she was taking precautions, including wiping down groceries and disinfecting her shoes, prior to her daughter's diagnosis. Courtney's dad went to her apartment to fix a leaky faucet after she had her first symptoms, but before her first positive test.
"He chatted with her for about 30 minutes and then left and came home," Kathy Klema said. "And he was angry and I think he was mad at himself then, and he went and showered."
After finding out that his daughter tested positive for COVID-19, Courtney's dad left his home in Johnson County and went a mile down the road to another family member's vacant house, where he stayed in self-quarantine for 14 days.
Thankfully, the family never showed symptoms.
As for Courtney, the traditional symptoms — a mild cough and headache — are what sent her to be tested in the first place. But those more unique symptoms were worse.
"My worst symptom was probably loss of taste and smell," Courtney said. "There was complete loss for about five days and then, or some days afterwards, and before is probably like three or four days where it was returning back."
Courtney Klema has been consulting patients with telehealth and has used Truman's drive-up option to be tested. She had to wait two weeks after the first positive, then a week after the following positives, to retest. She's also required to have two negative tests before she can go back to work.
Still, doctors at the University of Kansas Health System say that studies have shown a positive test doesn't automatically make a person contagious.
"Between eight to 10 days, it doesn't seem as if you can really culture any live virus from the upper respiratory issue," Dr. Dana Hawkinson said.
That's key, according to another University of Kansas doctor.
"The important part of that is if it's not live and it doesn't reproduce, it's not going to cause infection," Dr. Steven Stites said. "It's just the little pieces of the viral particle, which the PCR does detect then, that doesn't cause infection."
Courtney says she thinks she got the virus from a public place, maybe a grocery store, because she didn't wear a mask every time she went out. Once she gets two negative tests, that will change.
For now, she's just thankful her family is more than willing to get her the things she needs.
Courtney says the infections disease doctors at Truman Medical Centers have been monitoring her case, and she's hopeful it can teach them more about the virus.