Health experts continue to warn that it’s small gatherings, those get-togethers with family or friends in our own homes, that are fueling the current surge in cases of COVID-19.
Dallas influencer, Courtney Stensland of @stensinthecity, is publicly sharing her experience, saying that’s how she got sick after nine months of taking every precaution.
"I've always made sure to wear my mask, do hand sanitizer. I've treated every surface like it had a COVID germ on it,” said Courtney Stensland.
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But then last Monday, she gathered with a small group of friends in someone’s home. And for once, she let her guard down and took off her mask.
"I was with close friends, thought I was safe,” said Stensland.
Twenty-four hours later, she said she got a call that someone there, who thought they were suffering from allergies but learned they'd tested positive for COVID-19.
From that moment on, Stensland said she did her best to isolate.
Then on Friday, she got her own positive test. Three other people she was with that night did too.
Though she said the call giving them a heads up about possible exposure was a reality check, she was grateful to get it.
“What I would tell people is that if you have COVID, it’s so important to tell others, because I would’ve been exposed to so many people that week,” said Stensland.
Unlike her friend, Stensland’s symptoms were worse, including fever, body aches and a headache.
She’s shared her experience with her followers each step of the way.
“COVID is scary. COVID is real. I think it isn’t anything I would wish on anyone. I think this holiday season we have to be careful, have to wear our masks because the second you let your guard down, that’s when it sneaks in,” said Stensland.
She hopes her story will serve as a cautionary tale.
"You can be so careful, but once you choose to expose yourself to friends and family, you're not only exposing yourself to them, you're exposing yourself to every single place they've been… and I don't think a lot of people realize that,” said Stensland.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.