Half-way vaccinated metro school bus driver says she may have gotten COVID-19 from work

ATLANTA — For 23 years, Cynthia Woods has been a bus driver for Atlanta Public Schools, but she doesn’t know when her battle with COVID-19 will end so she can get back to the children she loves.

“I was terrified as to whether I was going to live or I was going to die,” the mother of three told Channel 2 Action News from her hospital bed in Cobb County.

She’s been at WellStar Kennestone since Sept. 2 after being diagnosed with a bacterial infection along with COVID-19, Woods said.

She said it’s possible she became sick at work while waiting to get her second vaccine dose later this month.

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“On the school bus, you know, there is no social distancing,” Woods said. “You can only hope and pray that children keep the mask on.”

Woods says her family drove her to multiple hospitals in early September, while she was symptomatic, only to be told hospitals were too full, despite her pleas.

“I can hardly breathe,” she says she told them. “And I feel like I’m going to die if i go home.”

Her family found her a bed at WellStar Kennestone two days later and she’s been recovering from treatment.

“I’m grateful that I was at least partially vaccinated, where I had a fighting chance,” she said.

She’s part of a declining number of Georgians hospitalized with COVID-19 but ICU beds across the state are still 96% full.

“It’s encouraging to see the numbers start to slow down, but we certainly don’t necessarily feel it inside the hospital,” said Dr. Andy Jaffal, Chief Medical Officer for Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.

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Cases are down nearly 30% across the state over the past two weeks, but hospitalizations are only down 10%.

Doctors across the metro are optimistic that people will take lessons from what happened after the winter surge and not let their guard down.

“The disease will come back unless a substantial majority of population is immune through an infection or vaccination for the pandemic to come to an end,” said Dr. Jaffal.

The latest surge has been deadly and also costly for the mostly unvaccinated patients.

Hospitalizations have cost an estimated $5 billion since June in the U.S., according to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“Insurers have been phasing waivers out, which means more and more of these avoidable hospitalizations would have significant out of pocket medical costs to people,” said Krutika Amin with KFF.

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For Cynthia Woods, she says it could be months until she may be cleared to go back to work. She is raising money to cover her hospital expenses as she looks forward to be released from the hospital and fully recovering.

“I encourage people to get vaccinated as fast as they can,” she said, “because this thing is not a joke.”

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