Local woman speaks out after contracting COVID-19

Sunday, March 22, 2020
Donna Buss



On Thursday the announcement was made confirming two individuals from Dyer County tested positive for the coronavirus, or COVID-19. The first confirmed case reportedly involved a juvenile, while second case was contracted by local pharmacist Donna Buss.

Buss, in an interview with the State Gazette, said she first began to have symptoms while in Florida attending a national dance competition, and initially believed she was simply suffering through something millions of Americans experience every year, which was allergies, while in Orlando.

“I had a little bit of a runny nose but other than that I felt great,” explained Buss. “Toward the end of my trip I began coughing some and had some drainage, but again, I wasn’t feeling bad at all.”

By the time Buss returned to Dyersburg on Tuesday, March 10 she began to cough a bit more and also began to experience a sore throat.

“I still didn’t feel bad, but because I was coughing more on Tuesday and then on Wednesday morning I had a sore throat,” said Buss. “That’s when I called Dr. (Jim) Naifeh to get tested for the flu, as well as strep, because it was going around.”

Buss donned a mask and was tested for the flu/strep on Wednesday, March 11 at Naifeh’s office just to make sure everything was fine. Another reason for the test was Buss began experiencing an increased heart rate, which was abnormal for her.

“I tested negative for flu/strep, but he (Naifeh) said I did have a mild virus with a low-grade temp but that I should be good in a couple of days, so I came home. Because we had been in Orlando, I bleached everything down and pretty much wore a mask.”

Over the next days, Buss continued to experience a sore throat that came and went, but on Friday, March 13 she began to experience a very mild, continuous mild headache. The symptoms prompted Buss, who stayed in touch with Naifeh over the weekend, to ask if tests for the coronavirus were available.

“I talked to Dr. Naifeh over the weekend and told him I really thought I needed to be tested just to rule out anything because I had been in Orlando,” added Buss. “He (Naifeh)was told by the health department that I didn’t meet the criteria for testing, but I argued that I did meet the criteria and insisted to be tested because there had been some positive tests at the airport in Orlando since I got back.”

While Buss felt she needed to be tested, she also understood the position the health department was in by saying she didn’t meet the criteria.

“It’s really not their fault at the health department because they are following the guidelines of the state, the CDC, and I understand it and don’t blame them at all,” said Buss.

On Tuesday, March 17, Buss called Naifeh and stated she felt she needed to be tested before she returned to work at West Tennessee Healthcare as a pharmacist, where she has been employed for 19 years.

“Dr. Naifeh said he would test me so I told him I was not going to come in to the office just in case, and I drove to his office wearing a mask and he sent someone out, fully protected with a mask and gloves. I leaned out the window and they swabbed my nose and that was it.”

Buss said she then heard from Naifeh on Thursday, March 19 and he conveyed to her the test was positive for COVID-19.

Currently under a 7-day quarantine at home, Buss’ advice to those out there that may have the same symptoms is to simply ask if they need to be tested.

“They should call their doctor or practitioner to see if they need to be tested. If we rush into clinics or the ER, it could put staff in a bind trying to care for other patients and also expose others if they do have it,” added Buss. “Their practitioner can guide them on how to be tested, if needed. Be smart. Follow CDC guidelines on protecting yourself and others. While most patients will experience mild cases, elderly and high risk can have severe implications if exposed. Social distancing will help flatten the curve and slow the spread. Just be smart!

West Tennessee Healthcare CEO Reba Celsor released the following statement regarding Buss, stating “We wish Donna a speedy recovery. Her swift actions such as wearing a mask and following instructions from her provider likely prevented unnecessary exposures of this illness to others in the community,” said Celsor, “West Tennessee Healthcare hospitals are monitoring this rapidly changing situation closely and are prepared to take care of patients who need hospital care. We are also screening our employees to ensure that they are well and following all CDC and Tennessee Department of Health guidelines.”

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  • I'm happy you came forward. Because I had this virus in February and it took 3 weeks to get over. A preschool in Dyer County had every child but 3 get it and again it took him 3 weeks. I'm a disabled nurse and I knew this wasn't normal. I talked to my doctor 5 times and was negative for the flu or strep. My symptoms were the same as your symptoms.

    -- Posted by t_n4321 on Mon, Mar 23, 2020, at 10:32 PM
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