Bay Area nurse shares COVID-19 experience, believes backlog in test results contributes to case surge

HAYWARD, Calif. (KGO) -- It was a tearful reunion for nurse Saima Latif, who hasn't seen her two teenage sons in three weeks.

"I'm happy to see you guys," she says as the three share a big group hug, as she greets them outside their home.

Latif is a nurse at the Hayward Healthcare and Wellness Center, where she thinks she may have contracted COVID-19 from a patient.

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On Sunday afternoon, she got the call from her doctor, clearing her to end her isolation.

"Even though I knew she was going to be okay, there was still, obviously, the chance that it might not have gone through all that well. And I'm glad that it did (go well). Really, really glad," says her eldest son, Kashef Miller, who is 17.

Latif, who lives in Walnut Creek, maintains a very healthy lifestyle. She does jujitsu, stocks up on vitamins and other supplements, and eats organic food. She suffers from asthma and did have a few days where it was tough to breathe, but otherwise, says she had mild symptoms and doesn't fall into any high risk categories. However, she admits, the positive test result still scared her.

"And what was really hard about that was just to be isolated, and knowing this might be my last few days, and I wouldn't even be able to see my family," says Saima, as she fights back tears.

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She says part of the problem is the back-log in getting test results. She waited more than a week. She believes these types of delays likely contributed to the recent surge.

"All that delay, not knowing who has it and who doesn't have it, you can't take the same protocols and safeguards. That's kind of scary. And I feel like that's been a big break down in this last recent surge," explains Latif.

She also urges lawmakers, that if they want to stop the spread, they need to make it easier for people to get tested.

"I think that it's really, really important that regardless of people having insurance or not, that testing is easy and available for people," she says, adding, "I think that definitely slows down the ability to be able to control (the pandemic)."

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Latif says Sunday evening will be dinner with her sons. On Monday, she will visit her parents. And then, it's back to work mid-week.

Just as the pandemic has changed how many people live, Saima says COVID-19 has changed how she thinks.

"Having your morality right there in your face, definitely makes you think about friends and family. Take the time and make the phone call, make the connection. You never know what people are going through or how isolated they are."
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