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Owatonna Woman Tells Her COVID-19 Story

Todd Walkingstick and Simone Breyer Steiskal
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She was one of the first cases of a positive test for COVID-19 in Steele County. And is only in her mid-20’s. A month after first exhibiting symptoms of the novel coronavirus, Simone Steiskal went public on Facebook with her experience. She has recovered from it and says she and her unborn baby girl, and her husband Ryan, are doing fine. She gave permission to use her story.

Her ordeal started March 17 as “talk was starting to get more serious about COVID-19 spreading around the state. As a pregnant woman, I was getting increasingly worried as I had not yet heard from my workplace if we were going to be working from home.” On the same day she found out she could work from home, she “woke up from a nap with a tickle in my throat and a dry cough.” She dismissed the symptoms at first.

The next day (March 18) her cough had grown worse. She was on the phone with a nurse for a followup to a call the previous day. The nurse “wanted to recite a COVID-19 spiel about what I should do if I ever had symptoms. Some things she read off sounded familiar to the symptoms I was currently experiencing.” The nurse advised her to call the COVID-19 line right away.

Though her symptoms weren’t severe, the moment Steiskal said she was pregnant she advanced through the call system. No action was suggested initially, “Since I didn’t have a fever at the time she suggested I monitor my symptoms and not come in to get tested.”

The next day (March 19) the sore throat and cough was worse and she had developed “headaches, body aches, hot and cold flashes, and congestion.” Steiskal called the nurse line again. And again she ran into a wall until mentioning that she was pregnant. She was told she could get tested. “At this time testing was not available to whoever wanted to get tested. The only reason I was able to get tested was because I’m pregnant.”

Her positive test came back on March 21. “At this time my symptoms were already going away but I continued to have chest congestion and a bad cough.” She got a call from a doctor to discuss the results. Her quarantine period officially began on March 17 with her first symptoms. Steiskal would need to be fever-free for three days to be through the quarantine.

She asked if she should be concerned about her pregnancy and was told, “if I’m feeling the baby kick I should be fine (not a great response to someone that was not feeling kicks at the time).”

Steiskal also received a call from the Minnesota Department of Health as they “will be monitoring my symptoms every day for the next 14 days.” March 26 a letter arrived from the health department that her quarantine was over. “I was a bit wary of it since I still had a bad cough, so I continued to stay home,” she said.

She says April 6 the cough finally was gone, “That was the one symptom that was holding on for so long. The rest of my symptoms disappeared within a week. I’m very thankful that I only had a mild case and everything is looking great with baby girl.”

Read her full account of battling COVID-19

I found out about her story while chatting (over the phone) with her father Todd Walkingstick about the Vikings draft. He said on Facebook, “This is scary to know your child went through this.” I have known Walkingstick for many years in our roles of following and covering local sports.

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