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'It's going to be a test of who we are' | Fairfax County teacher with coronavirus speaks from quarantine

School officials said the Lynbrook Elementary School teacher has tested presumptive positive and is recovering at home.

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — A Fairfax County elementary school teacher has spent the last week-and-a-half in quarantine after school officials said she tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Lynbrook Elementary School teacher Catherine Collett spoke to WUSA 9 via Facebook messenger to share what the testing process and quarantine experience have been like.

"I've actually been quite busy," Collett said laughing.

Collett said she and her husband, Diego, have spent the last 11 days in quarantine after they both tested positive for COVID-19. As they sit at home, she said they have been putting together puzzles, reading books, watching shows, and she even has posted lesson plans online for students.

“I’m running online schooling for my kids, trying to give them opportunities of things they could do while they’re home," she said.

Collett said, physically, she hasn't been feeling that unwell, besides a cough that occasionally keeps her up at night.

“I actually had very few symptoms, which is further confusing people," she said. Her husband, however, could barely walk when they first visited the hospital. She said both of their symptoms are going away on their own.

She shared her journey in a Facebook post, detailing the experience of testing and her self quarantine. She thanked the health care workers who helped her, calling them "heroes."

"As I sit at home on my sixth day of quarantine, I have so much I want to say about our experience with the coronavirus pandemic," the post read. "First of all, the nurses and health department officials who are making phone calls to give test results, ushering you through back doors, suiting up with endless layers of gloves and gear, cheerfully and empathetically answering your thousands of questions when you find out you are positive -- you are truly the heroes."

Collett said getting tested for coronavirus was a challenge.

“This process is not like a one and done day," Collett said in Wednesday's interview. "It took us a week to find out we were exposed, get sick, get tested and then get results.”

"On our first of four ER visits, we were told to go home and go back to work when my husband's fever broke (after flu, blood, and urine tests)," Collett said in the Facebook post. "I had to fight for my husband to get tested. I had to try multiple avenues to get tested. We'd call the ER and be told we qualify for testing, to show up and be told we don’t."

Collette, whose husband is an EMT who primarily transports elderly patients, said because of the reactive and not proactive approach to the tests, both her and her husband could have exposed many people given the vast amount of information they were given had they not self-quarantined.

"This may seem obsolete, but as an EMT and public school teacher we could have exposed so many people if we took that advice," Collett said. "I hope companies, health care providers, and the health department can continue to make better decisions as more cases arise. Please be considerate to your fellow humans, it could very easily be you in this situation as well."

Credit: Catherine Collett
Catherine Collett poses with her husband in a vacation photo.

After spending 11 days in quarantine, Collett said she has come to some realizations.

“Being one of the first cases in our county, it made me think a lot about how this is going to come down to people doing the right thing," she said. "So, it’s going to be a test of who we are as a community, as a country to protect each other.”

The Virginia Department of Health said, so far, there have been multiple coronavirus deaths reported in the commonwealth. 

Virginia has reported scores of positive tests as of March 16.

Fairfax County Public School officials said schools are closed "until further notice". Collett said teachers and staff are working to figure out how they might be able to teach kids from home.

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