HGTV star Erin Napier is wondering if she and her family unknowingly caught the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) when they fell ill earlier this year.
In a lengthy Instagram post on Friday, the Home Town host, 34, opened up about falling ill after traveling to New York City, sharing that she, her 2-year-old daughter Helen and her 64-year-old mother all exhibited coronavirus symptoms last month but couldn’t figure out what they had.
“I’ve been hesitant to share this because I worried it might cause alarm, but the more I’ve considered it, I think it’s something worth discussing so we can hopefully raise the alarm for the importance of IMMEDIATE serological testing for COVID-19,” she began her post.
According to Napier, she began feeling sick in late January when she woke up with some gastrointestinal issues.
“I went in to work because I felt mostly normal. By 5 pm, I noticed I kept getting chills and checked my temperature and it was 100. I took some Aleve and the fever dropped and I went on about my business,” she recalled. “I wrote in my journal a couple days later: ‘I feel like I have a cold, but not really. It’s like a half-cold. No congestion, but I can’t stop coughing. Still have low fever.'”
The mother of one then said she consulted a doctor friend about her symptoms, who recommended that she get tested for the flu.
“I tested negative for the flu that day even though I continued to run low fever off and on, about every other day, for weeks,” she wrote. “No medicine helped control my coughing, and it wasn’t a productive cough.”
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By Feb. 7, Napier said doctors performed some blood work on her as her fatigue “wasn’t improving .”
“They told me ‘Everything looks pretty normal. Just a viral thing, most likely,'” she continued.
“By February 20, my symptoms resolved and I’ve been fine since. Helen and my mother (64 years old) caught it and had similar symptoms. They’re both fine now.”
Napier said that her husband Ben and her father did not get sick during that time.
“A few days ago my doctor friend reviewed that blood work again and says my low lymphocytes, denoting ‘the viral thing,’ could have been a result of COVID-19, though there is no way to know until serological testing is released widespread to see how much of the population has caught it and recovered without ever being tested during the illness,” she shared.
“I pray this test happens soon so we know more about this disease and how it’s spreading. I wonder how many of us already encountered it and beat it unknowingly?” she added. “Regardless, I wish I didn’t see so many cars in the parking lots and entire families going inside stores to buy groceries. Please, please. Keep your families at home. Let one person go in and out as quickly as possible.”
In the comments section, Napier encouraged her followers to practice social distancing and avoid going out to public places to slow the spread of coronavirus, writing, “We aren’t being asked to fight a war like our grandfathers had to do: we’re just being asked to stay home and wait. Please, if at all possible. Stay Home. And Wait.”
Having not realized that she may have had COVID-19, a highly contagious reparatory virus, when she was sick, Napier said in another comment, “I exposed so many people and I worry about that, but there was no way of knowing.”
“COVID wasn’t even a remote consideration here at that time. Tests certainly weren’t here for it and as far as we knew, it was a far away problem that had nothing to do with my ‘cold.'”
The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-2019, a form of coronavirus — began in Wuhan, China in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.
The first U.S. case was found in Everett, Washington, just outside of Seattle, in a man who had recently returned from Wuhan. The number of cases grew slowly from there and the virus began to spread more rapidly in communities across the United States.
As testing becomes more readily available in the U.S., there have been 15,650 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 202 deaths in the nation. Worldwide, there are now 266,082 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 11,153 deaths.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes ,PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.
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