Neighbors share personal COVID-19 experiences

Working in a senior living facility

Beatrice Kahn, one of our student editors, wrote about a former classmate working in a local senior living facility. His name and the name of the facility have been removed, but it gives an interesting insight into practices.

He has always been a people person. His energetic laugh and contagious smile lit up the leadership room at Beaverton High, and now help him to thrive working in assisted living. He is now on the front line of workers in retirement homes during the coronavirus outbreak. While the virus has hit several senior facilities in Washington County, his workplace has yet to have a COVID-19 case.

Despite the outbreak, parts of his routine remain unchanged. “I lead caregivers in giving residents their supplements and vitamins and I check in on the residents every day,” he said. But even though his job description remains the same, much has changed over the past few weeks. Worker and resident safety is the top priority. “Everyone gets asked by a worker at the front desk to see if they have a fever or any coronavirus symptoms,” he said. “We wipe down and disinfect the medical office multiple times per hour.” Hand sanitizing stations are also becoming commonplace around the building and are open to everyone.

Though wearing a face mask wasn’t a requirement in the past, he now must wear one for the duration of his graveyard shift, from 7 pm to 7 am. Though these restrictions pose barriers to his connection with his residents, he has his own family to think of. “When I come home, the first thing I do is take a shower. My grandpa lives with us, and I don’t want anything to happen to him,” he explained.

Throughout the nation, workers on the front lines have quit their jobs because of a lack of sanitary supplies and the threat posed to their families. But this young man, who is earning his CNA (certified nursing assistant), recognizes that working in the medical field will always be in demand.

Family of six

My family and I live near Butner. We were exposed at our small church in Raleigh Hills on March 15. About 25% of the people at the church ended up seemingly contracting COVID-19 in the two weeks that followed, either directly or secondarily from the congregant who tested positive on the 18th. The incubation seemed to be four to five days. Precautionary measures were in place at the church that day, and my wife and I came nowhere near the lady who first tested positive, so I’m convinced the majority of the transmission was airborne. Only four of the 20+ people with symptoms were able to get tested, and all tested positive.

My wife and I ran low-grade fevers and had worse-than-expected chills and aches based on how low the temps were. We ran fevers for ten days. Exhaustion was major; we slept as much as our parenting of four children would allow, and still were extremely tired! Our sons showed symptoms for a day or so each, then bounced back. The littlest child (three-year-old girl) never had symptoms. I developed a pretty mean cough that hung around for about ten days after the fever; but no one else got the cough. One of my sons and I lost our sense of smell for a few days, which was weird.

After about fourteen days total, we were feeling pretty good again. We remained fairly sequestered though for another couple of weeks. My wife finally got the antibody test from Quest up at Safeway a couple of days ago, with a positive result. We now both feel 100%!

None of the people who contracted the illness through our church were hospitalized. Three or four of them were in their seventies or even eighties, while others were empty nesters or families like us with small children. All are now recovered!

Our story isn’t full of harrowing adventures. No hospitalization was involved thankfully! But I think our experience does relate to some of the underlying questions about the disease, its contagion level, the six or so common symptoms the CDC recently added to their list, the statistics being gathered, and maybe the path forward from here.

As for things that helped us feel better? Not much. It was sort of like a long and weird flu that just had to run its course. Rest seemed to be the best form of treatment. Local family and friends dropped off meals, which was wonderful.

The writer’s wife adds, “I had really severe aches with the virus, but I didn’t want to take ibuprofen (since the fever is part of letting the body fight the illness). Using hot rice packs and soaking in hot epsom salt baths were very helpful for the aching.