#342–Covid strikes close to home . . .

I don’t have Covid and I haven’t tested positive, but I’ve been exposed. This is a first for me, since the pandemic began. And some of my friends now have it, and one recently died. His obit was in the Siuslaw News yesterday, June 22. So, Covid is definitely still with us. Up until now, it’s been “out there,” not “right here––up close and personal.” Suddenly, Covid is much too close.

I still wear a mask when I go grocery shopping, but I now wear a KN95 mask instead of this cloth one.

Masks have not been mandated by the state of Oregon for several months, but I continued to wear mine in indoor public settings until recently. I wore it when I was on duty as a clerk at Backstreet Gallery and on duty as a docent at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum. But the past few weeks, I started removing my mask because I was about the only one left wearing one. I was just beginning to feel safe without it. Then everything changed. . . .

My friend and her husband both got Covid several weeks ago, even though they were vaccinated, boosted, and took precautions. She is my age, 80, and her husband a few years older. Both became very sick, and both ended up in the hospital. She survived; he didn’t. I was stunned when I found out. I’ve only known a few people who’ve had Covid and no one who has died because of it. Not only has it become too close, but it’s back to being scary.

I learned about my friend’s husband’s death just about the same time as we had the June 11 reception at Backstreet Gallery. It was held to honor the Featured Artists––Teresa Zook and myself. It was held in the afternoon during a sun break on an otherwise rainy day. Our live music was held outside, but many people were inside, including me. Only a few people were wearing masks. I planned to wear mine, but I also wanted to eat some of the treats and drink some wine. And, mostly, I wanted to talk with friends that had come to honor me without my mask on. So, I didn’t wear it.

Weaver Teresa Zook and I were the Featured Artists honored at the reception.

At our June 11 reception, hardly anyone was wearing a mask, including Debbie Boyle, Karen Gassawy, and me.

It was a successful reception with lots of members attending, lots of other folks attending, and lots of sales. I said in my blog post two weeks ago that it had gone off without a hitch. Well, that was not quite true, because it became a spreader of Covid. And none of us realized it until five days later.

All of us who are members of Backstreet learned of this late Wednesday afternoon, June 15. We only learned about it after the chairperson of the reception developed symptoms, tested positive, and learned she had Covid. That same day we found out another member also had symptoms and also tested positive. Later, both husbands also developed symptoms and tested positive. (One was at the reception and one was not.)

As of Friday, almost a week after the reception, of the 17 Backstreet members that attended, three developed Covid with mild symptoms and tested positive, two of their spouses also became sick with symptoms and tested positive, and one more member tested positive with no symptoms yet. Most of the rest of us have tested with home tests and tested negative

Here i am with my KN95 mask It is stiffer than a cloth mask and has space around the nose, which makes breathing easier. It is more effective against Covid than cloth.

My friend’s husband’s death and this whole reception experience shows that Covid is definitely still with us. From now on, I’ll be wearing my KN95 mask in all indoor public places.

I had both of my eye surgeries completed before I knew I had been exposed. Each time I was in the eye surgery center, I had my mask on. They required it of everyone. So, I’m sure I didn’t spread anything. And I tested negative on June 15 and June 17.  

 A few days after our reception on June 14, the CDC recommended everyone in Lane (that’s us), Douglas, and Jackson counties wear masks in indoor public settings and on public transportation. Then on June 17 the same recommendation was made for Coos, Curry, and Hood River counties.

Bottom line: Once again, it’s time to do everything we can to prevent becoming exposed. Mask up, keep your distance, and wash hands often. You know the drill! Stay safe, everyone!

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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