By Anna Giles

EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS 13) — From healthy, active, and thriving to fighting for her life in the ICU — an El Dorado County woman is speaking out after surviving COVID-19. She hopes her story might convince people to take the virus more seriously.

Andrea Latimer said she used to be someone who didn’t care about masks or social distancing. That all changed when she spent seven days alone and afraid in the ICU last week.

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Latimer said she is an adventurer. At 40 years old, she’s having the time of her life living close to Tahoe. She said she doesn’t have pre-existing conditions and is not a smoker.

“I’m healthy, I walk three miles a day. This was the scariest thing I’ve ever went through,” Latimer said.

She believed COVID would never get to her.

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“Basically, I was a person who was not into the mask thing, it’s not a big deal,” Latimer said.

For Latimer, it started with symptoms that some might not immediately connect to coronavirus.

“I had diarrhea, fatigue. I thought it was a stomach bug, to be honest, because there were no other symptoms than that,” she said.

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But soon after, Latimer was coughing. She thought she could take care of this on her own at home. But then she couldn’t breathe or get out of bed. That’s when she called 911.

“If I did not call somebody I don’t think I would be talking to you today,” Latimer said.

She was treated at Marshall Hospital in Placerville. Safety rules meant her family and friends could not visit her.

“A couple of the nurses would hold my hand, tell me everything was going to be ok. I don’t think I would have made it through without these angels,” Latimer said.

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El Dorado County has seen a spike in cases, specifically in South Lake Tahoe. Some restaurants are openly defying mask and social distancing rules and refusing to obey county mandates to close down.

A woman who wasn’t worried now pleads with people to wear a mask and stay six feet apart.

“It just attacked me and I don’t know why I’m different than anybody else,” Latimer said.

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Latimer said she was able to get her coronavirus test results within two hours because she was in the emergency room, but she was shocked to hear some people are waiting up to 10 days. She says it’s unacceptable.