39-year-old healthcare worker gave up coronavirus test for others; she later died before getting her own test results

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 9:24 AM CDT
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Josh Anderson says his loved one, Natasha Ott, messaged him saying she felt like she was getting a cold, something like a “tiny fever.”

The next day Ott tried to go to a New Orleans hospital but was told it’d be a week before she could see her doctor.

She settled for taking a flu test at her job, a healthcare clinic that serves the city’s HIV population. She passed on taking one of the clinic’s five available coronavirus tests so someone else could, Anderson said.

That was Wednesday, March 11.

Ott was later tested for coronavirus on Monday, March 16, but found dead in her kitchen by Anderson on Friday. The results from her coronavirus test have not come back, Anderson wrote.

“For those of you not fortunate enough to have known her - know this: it’s an immeasurable loss. And seeing a woman I knew to be so full of life lying on the floor lifeless was devastating,” said Anderson. “I was afraid to touch her. I held her anyway.”

Anderson wrote that he’d spoken with her just hours earlier.

"She wrote: ‘Good morning! I love you.’ To my lasting shame, I replied: ‘Morning, sunshine. How you feeling?’ wrote Anderson. "I very much wish I’d said ‘I love you’ back.

Anderson says though there is no evidence of her death being caused by COVID-19, he still hopes it serves as a wake-up call to the community and the government of the potential human cost of the virus.

He shared concerns that a healthcare facility aimed at HIV patients who are considered “high-risk” would only have 5 kits. He also shared concerns that Ott passed up the test partially because she is considered “low risk.”

Even if she was considered “high risk” for the virus, backups in the healthcare system like the one that delayed Ott from seeing her doctor could be widespread.

Health officials advise that those in similar situations should contact 211.

“The time for joking about COVID-19 is over. Now is the time to keep yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else safe,” wrote Anderson.

Copyright 2020 WAFB. All rights reserved.

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