Despite the continued rise of coronavirus cases and deaths, there were still reports of large crowds nationwide over the weekend, whether at the beach or on playgrounds. It’s part of a trend that’s remained constant despite all the government mandates and warnings from scientists; people, particularly those who are younger and less at risk, are not taking the virus seriously.
Kayla Dougherty, 20, of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, was part of that group several weeks ago. Now, after testing positive for COVID-19, she has a warning for her peers.
“I would remind them that we are not invincible,” Dougherty told NBC10. “I thought I was.”
Dougherty, a junior at James Madison University, had gone to Spain with her friends for spring break, ignoring warnings not to travel.
“I went to Spain just when this was still going crazy,” she said. “This had already just begun and I wasn’t listening to anyone. Neither was the group that was with me.”
She arrived back in the United States 10 days ago. Within the first two days of being back, Dougherty began showing symptoms, including shortness of breath and a fever of 102 that lasted for days.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
“The first few days it was still hard to accept it,” Dougherty said. “I really didn’t think it was going to do anything to me. And once the fever went all the way up, the breathing was what really got me. I cried and my mom just stood at the door. And I never cry.”
Dougherty said several of her friends also began showing mild symptoms.
“We thought we could just battle this out,” she said. “We thought using enough hand sanitizer and washing your hands would end this. But it clearly didn’t. I was taken down by it.”
As Dougherty continues to recover, she’s warning other young people who aren’t taking the pandemic seriously.
“There are so many people walking around with this virus that don’t even know they have it,” Dougherty wrote on her Instagram page. “So please, I am literally begging all of you to stop going out. Stop hanging out with large groups of people. Stop exposing yourselves and then your families. It is not worth the risk you are putting yourselves and others at.”