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FunTimes Magazine

The Real Deal: Entrepreneur Extraordinare Alleta Paris-Olday on Surviving COVID-19

Aug 08, 2020 08:00AM ● By Oga Africa

Alleta Paris-Olday is the real deal. She operates in almost any sector of entrepreneurship one may think of. She is the CEO of ‘Footprints to Financial Success,’ founder of ‘The Pennsylvania Women’s Empowerment Initiative,’ CEO of ‘A Blissful Beginning’ travel agency, a certified wedding consultant, partner at Agyei Business Services, Co-founder of AMPlifiers, an asset building and wealth management company, and more. In addition to these roles, this strong, multifaceted, resilient woman is a COVID-19 survivor. She shares her story of overcoming this virus with FunTimes.

People like Paris-Olday, with underlying health conditions, are at a high vulnerability of contracting the virus. She describes the moments leading up to her diagnosis: “I have a pre-condition called Lower extremity lymphedema, which causes swelling is in my legs. Because of this condition, I had an open wound that I have been treating for the last 3 years. One morning, shortly after learning about COVID and the lockdown, my nurse came to change my wound. When she checked my vitals, I had a temperature of 102. I did not feel sick or hot. I said that she had to be mistaken. We laughed and she took my temperature again. Needless to say it was the same. So, following medical protocol, I called my doctor and went directly to the ER.”

When Paris-Olday got to the ER, the staff ran a test on her leg and found it was infected. Due to a shortage of hospital beds, Paris-Olday was forced to wait, with a painful leg, in the ER for about 12 hours before she could be admitted. When she finally was able to take the COVID test, the results were positive. 

After receiving her diagnosis, Paris-Olday self-isolated for the recommended 14 days and experienced a low-grade fever that broke after the third week. Post-quarantine, she was supposed to have surgery on her leg but had to reschedule twice because surgery could have made her COVID-19 symptoms worse. When you are diagnosed with COVID, she says, you need to have two negative test results before you are cleared. In addition, it was difficult to find a bed for recovery and rehabilitation rehab, which she would need for four weeks, because the hospitals were under resourced.

Paris-Olday speaks on the lack of accessibility for COVID-related resources and community foils when it comes to people like her: “As an African American and committee person in my neighborhood, I am sad to say that testing site locations have not been very communicative about testing times for the community. I live in West Philadelphia but had to go to Wissahickon Avenue for my first testing site. Also, I think our young Black people do not think about the safety of those around them. Most young people think that nothing will happen to them and disregard the welfare of parents, grandparents, or even friends that they are around. We do not have a clue of who has it, how we get it or how it is spread. Seniors do not want to know, and unless they have to go to the hospital or doctor, they will not get tested. This leaves a large amount of people in our community unprotected.”

Reflecting on the effects COVID has had on her physical, spiritual and financial being, Paris-Olday says: “Since I have a deep spiritual commitment to my higher power, and because I never had any symptoms other than the fever, I feel truly blessed to be alive and well. As an entrepreneur, my business suffered a financial loss, but I was cushioned by the extended tax season. I help secure other start-ups and small businesses sustain themselves through foundational development. During this pandemic, I informed as many businesses as possible about the finances available to them and where they needed to acquire financial assistance. As businesses continue to evolve, it is good to reflect on the things we did not seem to have time to do for our businesses but are doing now. Increasing sales representatives, marketers and even the unemployed will become entrepreneurs as they properly assess the needs of our communities.

Many communities in the United States are lounging on beaches, traversing on the boardwalks and vacationing in Miami, which has now become a COVID-19 hotspot. Paris-Olday strongly emphasizes a collective shift of consciousness: “COVID-19 is real. I have friends that have passed. I was in the hospital with people who had it and did not make it. I also believe that you have a choice in this pandemic. Being careful simply means paying attention to what is going on in the news and around our city. If you do not want to pay attention to the rules and regulations for the wellbeing of the majority, please stay home or go out when the least amount of people are out. Let us not wait until it is one of our family members or close friends to realize this is not made up by the government or a ‘hoax’ as it was said in the beginning.”

The 2020 Presidential elections are among us. In light of COVID-19, Paris-Olday encourages everyone to engage in their civic duties for a collective betterment: “I am asking all community leaders and anyone who cares about where they live to first register to vote. We cannot do another four years of despair and destruction of minority lives. We need to make sure the insurance companies will pay for these tests. We should not have to pay an out of pocket expense that a lot of us cannot afford. Also, support the Black doctors who are conducting free testing in our communities. We have to become more politically aware of what is happening in our communities or we will not have a community. Stay woke.”

As a COVID-19 survivor, Parris-Olday cautions the general public to consider the consequences and risks of traveling: “We have to remember that if we travel out of state to where cases are high, we will need to quarantine when we return. If you fly or take the bus or train, they have a system in place for tracking and reporting.”

Paris-Olday reminds us of the overarching blessing of life: “Everyday above ground is a good day. We get a do over. We do not have to make the same mistakes from the day before. However, we should learn from them so we do not make the same ones again.” 

Are you a COVID-19 survivor? Email us at [email protected].

This story is made possible by collaboration with Resolve Philly.