The 39-year-old New Orleans woman found dead while waiting for her COVID-19 test results, did not have the coronavirus.
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate reports that the New Orleans Coroner’s Office confirms Natasha Ott’s second test results for COVID-19 also came back negative.
Ott’s boyfriend, Josh Anderson found her body on the kitchen floor last Friday. Her test results were still pending at the time her body was discovered but came back negative soon after she died. Ott’s sister, Emily Coalson Stamets, demanded commercial testing company LabCorp and a local university, retest Ott. Those results recently came back negative.
The cause of her death is still under investigation.
The time for joking about Covid-19 is over. Now is the time to keep yourself, your loved ones, and everyone else safe. And I’m devastated to say that now is also the time to mourn.Natasha S. Ott passed on today. She was a profoundly kind, passionate, funny and loving 39-year-old woman in good health. She was a Peace Corps alumni who liked to curse… and she loved those who were fortunate enough to be close to her with every ounce of her heart.The absolute least-interesting thing about her was the way that she died, but I’d like to talk about that here now because I’d like everyone to wake-up to the reality of what we are facing.On Tuesday, March 10th she wrote me to tell me she was feeling a bit sick: “Like a respiratory cold. Tiny fever.”She worked for Crescent Care as a social worker for clients who are HIV positive. They sent her home, but didn’t test her – she was told she was low-risk.She wrote me the following on March 11th: “I tried to go to Ochsner today to get a flu test and they told me it would be a week before I could see my PCP. I ended up getting it at work. We only have 5 coronavirus tests at my clinic. I declined to take one so someone else could.” Natasha worked for Crescent Care – an organization dedicated to providing treatment to people who are HIV positive. This organization that provides healthcare to the highest of high-risk populations had 5! coronavirus tests available on March 11th, and she elected not to use one. The flu test she did take ended up coming back negative.On Friday March 13th she wrote: “Hey, they don’t think I need to get tested unless I develop a fever. All looks well.”On Sunday March 15th she wrote: “Hey, I’m not feeling so hot still. I may be testing at work tomorrow. I’m probably fine. I just tried to drink some medicinal whiskey and feel unwell. I’m ok. I love you.”On Monday March 16th I asked her if I could bring her some Pho, and she wrote: “Nothing, thank you. I’m ok. I don’t have an appetite.”She did get tested for Coronavirus that day, and was told it would take up to 5 days to see results.On Tuesday March 17th I asked “How you feelin?” and she replied: “Ok
“On Wednesday March 18th she wrote: “I walked Zola and am worn out.” She also wrote: “I just want to drink whiskey” and sent me an article about a 25-year old man that claimed whiskey cured his Coronavirus. She wrote: “I don’t want to be sick anymore” and “I just don’t understand why I don’t feel much better yet.”On Thursday March 18th she said: “Also, if you’re offering dog walking services today, I’d like to place a request.”She also wrote “This moms soup from WFs is the tits” and “I feel like if I had to go into battle, I’d rather have an ax than a sword” and “I think Zola is worried about me” (Zola’s her dog).I went by that evening to walk Zola. Natasha was feeling a bit better. She had more energy than she’d had in days, and she ended up walking Zola with me. She did complain that she felt like ‘something’ was in her lungs. She also mentioned that her Coronavirus test results were delayed, and likely wouldn’t come back until Monday.We made plans to watch a movie together Friday evening (remotely) round 8.On Friday March 19th she wrote: “Good morning! I love you.”To my lasting shame, I replied: “Morning, sunshine. How you feeling?” I very much wish I’d said “I love you” back.She sent her last message to me at 8:36am in response: “A little better and hopeful. The herbs seems to be helping.”At 6:54pm I texted, with no-reply.I called twice, with no-reply.I wrote: “I’m getting nervous. Just called twice. Text or call me soon. If I don’t hear from you within the hour I’m coming over there to check on you.”I got to her house around 8. No one answered the door. I walked to the back of the house and noticed the rear door that opened into her fenced yard was open (she left it open sometimes so Zola could go in and out).I went in the back, and found her dead in her kitchen. For those of you not fortunate enough to have known her – know this: it’s an immeasurable loss. And seeing a woman I knew to be so full of life lying on the floor lifeless was devastating. I was afraid to touch her. I held her anyway.Her Coronavirus test results have still not come back.Know these things, friends:- Our government is ill-prepared for this pandemic in a way that has and will cost lives.- Cherish your loved ones like you could lose them, and let them know you cherish them.—-Update – what I wish I’d done differently, two days later:I’m not a doctor, but I did talk to my friend who is an ICU doctor before posting this. Still, take my advice with a grain of salt.I’m seeing tons of news stories that say you should stay home if you have ‘minor’ symptoms. But I haven’t seen anyone delineate what a ‘minor’ symptom is.Tasha was a stoic soul, and her tone of voice and joking demeanor made everything sound like not so big a deal.But she told me on Thursday evening that she felt like ‘something’ was in her lungs.- shallow breathing is not a minor symptom- feeling like there’s lung congestion or fluid in your lungs is not a minor symptomIf you or a loved one feel like there’s fluid or congestion in their lungs or is experiencing shallow breathing, seek medical attention immediately.Don’t wait on a test status, don’t wait to see if things will feel better tomorrow.This self-assessment can help you figure out what to do if you have symptoms: https://gehrcovidtriage.akidolabs.com/—Update – Fraud alert:Someone has created fake accounts for me and several of my friends, and is trying to friend people who reacted to this post for the purpose of sharing a fake fundraiser in Natasha’s name.Tasha’s friends and family are humbled and grateful for all of your love and support, but none of us are likely to be sending friends requests to a stranger at this time.Please be wary of any friend requests that look as though they come from ‘me’ or anyone tagged in this post.—Update – testing results, as of 3/25:3 test results from Crescent Care have come back. Two were positive, Natasha’s was negative. Given her presentation (she tested negative for flu, she was in good health, and she was exposed), the Coroner is deeply skeptical of the negative result. Both the original sample and a new samples have been submitted to be tested again. We do not yet have the new test results. I still believe that she died from Coronavirus, and would urge all of you to be as careful as you can. Treat your symptoms, not your test results.I will update this post when I know the results of her second round of tests, hopefully within the next several days.We waited too long to seek care, and part of the reason we waited is that we didn’t know her status.TREAT THE SYMPTOMS, NOT THE TEST.Take a Covid-19 assessment ( https://gehrcovidtriage.akidolabs.com ) to help determine if your symptoms are serious, and if they are seek help immediately.As a friend who works in public health put it:”If you are negative and have mild symptoms, your treatment is supportive care.If you are positive and have mild symptoms, your treatment is supportive care.If you are negative and have severe symptoms, your treatment is hospital level care.If you are positive and have severe symptoms, your treatment is hospital level care.”In other words.. when it comes to figuring out whether to seek care, your test results do not matter.