By Marlee Ginter

Davis (CBS13) –  Marilyn Stebbins is a wife, an avid runner, a pharmacist, and her latest title is COVID-19 survivor.  Stebbins started getting cold-like symptoms in late February but they were not enough to keep her from hopping several planes for a planned ski trip in Idaho and even a trip to the nail salon when she was back.  Stebbins admits she’s a strong person, but as her breathing, GI symptoms and cough got worse, she ended up in the emergency room and was ultimately admitted at UC Davis Medical Center. There, she was placed in an isolation room.

“I didn’t feel that I could stay at home safely any longer. I couldn’t climb my stairs without falling over… every time I would breathe in, it would burn and then it would spur on a coughing attack,” said Stebbins.

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Two days after she was diagnosed as Yolo County’s first COVID-19 case, the county called her to go over her condition.  Officials then sent out a press release describing Stebbins as an older adult with underlying health conditions, but that’s not how she or loved ones describe the avid runner, especially after just finishing an active ski trip.

“My point was that I really felt like people needed to know that anybody could this. I was a fit and healthy person and I got it,” said Stebbins.

The County contacted Stebbins’ husband who was already in isolation but failed to contact the manicurist she’d visited while symptomatic, asking Stebbins if she would call the nail salon.  Stebbins documented her entire ordeal, from the moment she started getting symptoms.

The County released this statement:

(Woodland, CA) – Yolo County would like to take the opportunity to address an article regarding the experience of the first confirmed COVID-19 case with our local public health system. By providing some additional context we hope to offer more clarity on our public health role during this pandemic.  Prior to addressing these concerns, we want to first express our appreciation for this individual sharing her story to help educate and inform the public about this illness. We sympathize with what must have been a very difficult and frightening situation as this individual navigated through what turned out to be the first confirmed case in Yolo County. We are thankful that this individual has recovered and hope that she continues to feel better.  Since this individual was the County’s very first case, much has changed since she was diagnosed and the County has taken away many lessons learned from those early days when the federal, state, and local entities were trying hard to ramp up response efforts to address the growing COVID-19 pandemic. To provide additional clarity, the County would like to provide some information regarding a few key concerns in the article.

  • Concern regarding information in the initial press release.
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An initial press release from the County announcing the first COVID-19 case described the patient as an “older woman with underlying health conditions” based on initial information received from health care providers. While a correction to this information was requested it unfortunately did not occur in the rush of containment efforts and COVID-19 related events that followed. The press release has now been updated.

  • Concern over the thoroughness of contact investigations following the COVID-19 diagnosis.

Following the diagnosis of the first confirmed case, the County worked closely with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to review contacts and ensure appropriate follow-up. As a result, immediate notifications were made to the entities potentially affected which included the patient’s workplace, the county of a relative; the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to report flights travelled on; and various healthcare facilities that the patient visited.  In the process of contact tracing and in consultation with the CDPH regarding potential local exposures, including a nail salon, no other contacts met the CDPH’s exposure criteria for evaluation and follow-up.

  • Concern over being released from isolation prior to receiving a negative COVID-19 test.

Guidelines from the CDC and the CDPH allow patients to be released from isolation once they are symptom free for 72 hours without first having a negative COVID-19 test. Due to continued shortages on testing, tests continue to be prioritized to confirm high-risk cases and exposures and not to confirm recovery status. Additionally, due to those shortages, household contacts are currently not prioritized for testing; particularly if they are asymptomatic.  We know that many people with COVID-19 are suffering and dying from this terrible infection. Additionally, the isolation and quarantine required to fight the disease are incredibly challenging for individuals and their families. As a county we can always do better and are looking at this account as an opportunity for checking and improving our own response efforts going forward. In this consistently evolving pandemic, agencies such as Yolo County Public Health along with the local healthcare system are continually changing to better coordinate and to ensure that the various needs of patients are met.  For detailed information and guidance about COVID-19, visit the Yolo County webpage at: www.yolocounty.org/coronavirus. Residents can also call Yolo 2-1-1 for resource information. For additional updates follow Yolo County on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/YoloCounty/ or Twitter at: https://twitter.com/YoloCountyCA.

 

Stebbins is grateful for the County’s response calling it “thoughtful” as she wants her story to be learning point for everyone.

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“I know that everybody is working as hard as they can but we are really going to have to come together and make sure that we coordinate care for people and we answer their questions and we settle the fears of the public because this is a scary thing,” said Stebbins.