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00000177-b32b-d5f4-a5ff-bbfb6e660000Here is the information you need to know about COVID-19 in Northwest Florida. We will keep this post updated with the latest information from local, and statewide agencies. For inforamtion from Centers for Disease Control and prevention: cdc.gov/coronavirusFor updates on Florida cases of coronavirus, visit the FDOH dashboard.The COVID-19 call center is available at 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121

She Has COVID-19, And She Feels Fine

Dan Domenzain

Have you or someone you know been infected by the coronavirus? Are you sure?

“I’m not getting any medical care because there’s nothing that they can do for me,” said Cheryl Sackman. She is over 65, has tested positive for the coronavirus, and, well, she feels fine.

In fact, the only reason Sackman even got a test for the virus was to satisfy her mother.

“The reason I got tested is because I rarely, rarely fall ill, and I got very ill late last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It took me that long to get over it. And my dear mother has been insisting ‘Oh, you already had it Cheryl, I’m convinced you had it in November’. And a co-worked has a daughter who has a friend that works in a clinic, and they got rapid-results tests in. And they can even tell you if you already had it, and it’s only $50. And I thought it was worth $50 just to tell my mother ‘no mom, I didn’t have it’ or ‘yeah, you’re right, I did’.”

You have to consider yourself possibly infected even if you don't know it. You also have to consider that everybody else around you could be infected, even if they don't already know it. - Cheryl Sackman

That was on May 5. She went to the clinic in Perdido, got the test and waiting for the results. “They came back in. They debated for a while and came back in and said ‘no, you didn’t already have COVID-19 but you have it right now’. And I was pretty surprised. I said I felt fine and they said that happens sometimes, but I’m currently infected and I can’t go back to work until I have two negative tests.”

Sackman was given a list of instructions and sent home. She called her job and explained the situation to her supervisor and has been getting tested each week since. Since she is still testing positive for the coronavirus the technicians at the testing site speculate that she was infected fairly close to the time of her first test, although there is no way to determine the exact time got it.

"It wasn’t until last week that they first started finding the antibodies, which means I’m in transition, and I’m hoping this week to find out that that’s all I’ve got is antibodies. Then I’ll need two negative tests before I can actually go back to the office.”

Since she’s been quarantined at home Sackman has stayed in touch with her co-workers.

“After I initially tested (positive), my co-worker who first told me about the rapid-results tests went and got tested, and she tested positive for antibodies., which means she had it and recovered, and never knew it. Her husband, the same. There’s a good chance that she’s the one I got it from, even though we were practicing social distancing at work. There were only three of us in the office, we were still together all day, every day during the work week. I think I took her phone and looked at pictures a couple of times even though we pretty much tried to maintain the social distancing thing.”

Cheryl Sackman is a social person. She is the volunteer coordinator for Pensacon. You may remember we spoke to her back in February where we learned about her nickname, the Pensamom.  She’s also a real mom navigating a living space with other family members.

“My two adult sons are living in the same house we me and they are still negative. I’m wearing a mask, and the mask is to protect other people. It’s to keep my infection from spreading too far and infecting other people. I keep my hands clean, I sanitize them, I wash them. Here in the house I spray everything I touch. I pretty much stay back in my part of the house. If I do have to go into a common area like the kitchen I spray everything down. And my sons are pretty good about asking me if I need anything and they’ll bring it to me so I’m not out and about in the rest of the house. Spreading germs.”

So far in Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa Counties there have been over 1,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with almost 50 deaths reported. Cheryl Sackman wants to make sure that, at least for the people around her, those number don’t get any higher.

“You have to consider yourself possibly infected even if you don’t know it. You also have to consider that everybody else around you could be infected, even if they don’t already know it. My mother keeps teasing me. You’ve heard of Typhoid Mary, I’m Covid Cheryl. Only I’m trying not to spread it any more than it already has been.”

And it looks like it will be a while longer before Sackman can return to her office. She was tested again Wednesday morning and she is still positive for the coronavirus and the antibodies. There are several testing sites around the Pensacola region including a drive-in site at the University of West Florida. Those are offered at no charge. The rapid-result blood tests cost between $50 and $60 per test. 

For a list of COVID-19 testing sites in Escambia County, click here

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.