JMU student who tested positive for COVID-19 shares her experience

Kayla Dougherty tested positive for coronavirus after returning from a spring break trip to...
Kayla Dougherty tested positive for coronavirus after returning from a spring break trip to Spain.(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 22, 2020 at 4:59 PM EDT
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There are three confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County area, one of those being a James Madison University student.

20-year-old Kayla Dougherty and 16 of her friends traveled to Spain over JMU's spring break. She said after she and her friends saw more and more travel restrictions, they decided to cut their trip a few days short and returned on March 12.

Dougherty said she flew directly home to New Jersey and just two days later started to experience coronavirus symptoms.

"It felt like everyone had explained it as," Dougherty said. "I was having a lot of trouble breathing, I was definitely having chest pain when I was coughing and the fever wasn't going away with medicine."

Dougherty said she and her friends self-quarantined when they returned to the US and she has no idea where she contracted the virus.

"I don't know if I picked it up in the airport or if I got it like a week prior to showing symptoms," Dougherty said.

Dougherty said it was difficult to speak without losing her breath.

"My mom was doing a lot of the reaching out to doctors because I like could not speak or do anything without losing my breath," Dougherty said. "She did it all and was on the phone with doctors for hours one morning."

And she said she was only cleared to take a coronavirus test after she explained her recent travel to Europe.

"It really kind of shows that unless there is literally every single reason unless you are the walking poster child for this virus, it is very, very hard to get a test," Dougherty said.

Dougherty turned to social media to share her experience and let her peers know how much she underestimated how the virus would affect her.

"I was on the phone with the apartment complex I live in and the manager has seen my post," Dougherty said. "She was thanking me for it because she said there are hundreds of people who are still partying every day in the apartment complex which is terrifying."

And she said many people may not realize they have been infected.

"I walked around for days not knowing that I had it and I'm sure there are many people doing the exact same right now," Dougherty said.

Dougherty said the CDC and the Department of Health have been in contact with her to make sure she is following guidelines and how her health is doing.

She said the Department of Health asks her and her family to report their temperatures every morning and evening.