If you’re relying solely on a negative test result to safely celebrate the holidays this year, you may want to rethink your plans.

Lesley Shollmier of Oklahoma decided to get tested for coronavirus once she began exhibiting symptoms. Despite the fact that she was indeed carrying the disease, only one of the four tests she took came back positive. Given the inconsistencies with her testing experience, she is encouraging people to stay home and quarantine if they have symptoms.

“Don’t trust a negative COVID test,” she said. “If you have the symptoms, especially that loss of taste and smell, you have to stay home.”

On Nov. 23, Shollmier says she began experiencing symptoms, prompting her to to get a rapid COVID-19 test at the local emergency room; the results came back negative. After Thanksgiving, her symptoms began to worsen — especially when she experienced the telltale loss of taste and smell. 

“I just knew that that was one of the classic symptoms, and regardless of anything, I have to have it,” she said. “As odd as it sounds, I was fortunate to have that symptom, so that I knew for sure that I was doing the right thing.”

She quarantined from her entire family, including her husband, in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Shollmier went on to take two PCR tests, which are considered to be the “gold standard” in COVID detection. Still, she tested negative twice more.

When her symptoms didn’t improve, she continued to advocate for her health. Shollmier says she eventually reached out to her primary care doctor, explaining the situation and requesting a fourth test.

“I said, ‘What would you think about me doing another PCR test through your clinic?’ She was like ‘Well, I don’t know. We could try it, but really, usually, they are pretty effective. I was pretty insistent, though. I knew in my gut I had it,” she said.

Finally, after 12 days of symptoms, Shollmier got a positive result. She took to the Internet to share her experience, and to advise people not to depend exclusively on testing to determine whether they have COVID.

“I am generally a pretty private person, but I thought people really need to know that just because you test negative does not mean that you do not have COVID and that you couldn’t possibly cause someone else to get it as well,” she said.

Shollmier has been encouraging everyone to stay home if they’re experiencing symptoms, and to wear a mask if they must go out in public. She has also used her experience to remind people to trust their instincts when it comes to their health.

“Listen to your gut,” she said. “Know when you’re sick and when you need to stay home, and just because you get that negative test doesn’t mean that you’re negative.”

Did you know you could test negative despite carrying the virus? This news may throw in wrench in some people’s holiday plans!