COVID-19 Beyond the Numbers: Sioux Falls woman tests positive twice, 6 months apart


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Just last week, a 25-year-old Nevada man was the first American confirmed to have caught COVID-19 twice. But a Sioux Falls mother says she has also had coronavirus more than once, but the State of South Dakota doesn’t count her case.

Nicole Worthley is a busy mom of three who works part-time at a day care. In late March she started having chest pains.

“I thought I was dying and having a heart attack. I didn’t know what else to suspect,” Worthley said.

It wasn’t a heart attack, Worthley tested positive for COVID-19 on March 31 and it hit her hard.

Worthley’s positive COVID-19 test result from March 31, 2020

“It progressed the point where I couldn’t walk across the apartment. I had to take breaks and lay on the middle of the floor,” she said.

Worthley continued to have nerve pain and heart palpitations, but was cleared for the virus and even donated convalescent plasma to help others.

Nicole Worthley donated convalescent plasma after being infected with COVID-19

Then in September she got a sore throat and a fever. “I lost my sense of smell that Sunday and tested positive for COVID,” Worthley said.

That was on September 27th.

“180 days exactly,” Worthley said.

Worthley’s positive COVID-19 test result from September 27, 2020

Testing positive for the virus after 90 days meets CDC criteria for being re-infected with COVID-19. However, it doesn’t meet all standards.

“For CDC to consider a person re-infected, they do have to meet certain criteria, including having capability of looking at level of virus a person has that is somewhat detected at time of testing; as well as the ability to differentiate the first test from any potential new virus or any sort of genomic changes in the virus,” Dr. Clayton said.

Worthley reported her two separate tests to the state, but the Department of Health says the CDC criteria is difficult to meet.

“At this point, we have not confirmed in the state of South Dakota that an individual has been infected twice,” Dr. Clayton said.

“I don’t know, maybe I’ve had it twice, or maybe I’ve had it for 6 months straight. Either way, the public just deserves to know the possibility and that it’s happening right here,” Worthley said.

We asked the South Dakota Department of Heath if its test for COVID-19 differentiate various strains of COVID-19 viruses and we did not get an answer to that question by the time this story aired on Friday at 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, Worthley continues to have lasting health issues from the virus.

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KELOLAND News is covering the Coronavirus outbreak. We have created a guide to everything you need to know to prepare. We also have the latest stories from across the globe feeding into this page.