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'I don't recommend getting COVID': Recovering woman urges people to be careful during holidays

"My fear is that what we’re seeing today is going to be much worse 14 days from now, and certainly post Thanksgiving," MedStar spokesman Matt Zavadsky said.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Ashlee Arroyo is on Day 12 of likely having COVID-19.

"By Saturday I lost my sense of smell and it snowballed from there," the 35-year-old said.

She said the "body aches were probably the thing that hurt the most." 

Arroyo has been documenting her journey with what she believes is the illness on Instagram. It's a journey she wants you to avoid.

"Of all the things I recommend in life, I don't recommend getting COVID," she said. 

The Dallas County resident went to Parker County earlier this month to help a family member after surgery. That relative then tested positive for COVID-19, and Arroyo got sick immediately after. 

Fever, body aches, headaches and a cough ensued, and she says she can hold a jar of pickles to her nose and not smell a thing. Loss of smell and taste are hallmarks of the virus.

"It was circulating in the family," she said of the virus, "and it was all from one-on-one interaction. And I think that's the part everybody just kind of discredits, the legitimacy of that one-on-one interaction. They think, 'I'm not at a bar, I'm not at a concert, I'm not at a ballgame.'"

Those intimate interactions are what health officials are most worried about as we head into the holidays.

"My fear is that what we're seeing today is going to be much worse 14 days from now, and certainly post Thanksgiving," said Matt Zavadsky, the spokesman for MedStar, the Tarrant County-based ambulance service.

Zavadsky says what they're seeing today in terms of suspected coronavirus calls isn't good.

"Over the summer, even during the initial peak, we were averaging 50 to 55 cases per day. However, so far in November, we're averaging 65 of those cases per day — and growing," Zavadsky said.

MedStar crews are still taking the same safety precautions they were back in January when the virus still hadn't yet hit Texas. Zavadsky says they're working to keep EMTs safe as they encounter the coronavirus in the community.

Like other medical experts, MedStar is urging people to stay home for the holidays.

Arroyo says she's still battling headaches, a cough and a mental fog. She has to leave herself notes or she forgets parts of the prior day, she says.

"It really is a Russian roulette on who's going to have a sniffle and a runny nose and a small fever, and who's going to end up in the hospital," she said.

It's a gamble she urges people not to take.

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