Resident Shares COVID Story; Asks City To Share More Information

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As I walked my dog on a beautiful Sanibel morning, I could not help but feel a bit depressed. I have the Coronavirus. It’s ironic that I’ve contracted the virus considering I was one of the biggest proponents of a mask proclamation we now have in place on Sanibel, thanks to City Council members Mick Denham, Holly Smith and Richard Johnson.

Being depressed about it was not my first reaction. I started out being very angry! Angry at the politicians who refuse to understand the severity of the pandemic and who rile up people to do the same, angry at the 50 people on our beach partying the other night with no mask in sight, angry at the fact that I now cannot see my daughters for Thanksgiving. Yes, I was very angry.

Then I was ashamed. Ashamed because I felt that once people knew I had the virus, they would start to wonder how I got it. Where was she? Did she not wear her mask? Did she go to a party? Was she irresponsible? Well, I can honestly say that I’ve followed all the CDC guidelines since March.

Eventually, as my temperature rose and I started to feel weaker and generally pretty sick, I was scared. Scared because I did not know where this disease would lead me. I am 65 years old with a history of asthma and although I’m in pretty good shape, I am still at risk. But most of all I was scared about the future, and if I would actually have a future. That’s right, you do think that way when you are 65 and you get Corona virus, because you don’t know what’s in store for you tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. You have no idea what contracting this disease means for your future health, should you be lucky enough to have that future.

Lastly, something actually wonderful has come out of this whole situation. Friends have rallied from all over the island to deliver groceries, food, supplies, flowers, messages, concern and care. I am overwhelmed with the spirit of all of you, and it reminds me of why I love this community so very much.

That is why I need to finally say that Sanibel is at great risk in the coming weeks. The Governor of Illinois called the situation in the mid-west a “Corona Storm,” and we all know that our season is upon us and most of the people coming to Sanibel are from the mid-west and the north. We are also already seeing a very substantial uptick in our Covid numbers.

The City of Sanibel needs to start publishing daily reports on COVID numbers immediately. If the citizens of Sanibel are asked to be responsible in making their own choices about their health, then they must have all the information available to do that.

Until then, my advice to all of you is to be aware of your surroundings, keep socially distancing, and for God’s sake wear your mask!

Arlene M. Dillon
Sanibel Resident

Comments (10)

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. We all need to be more careful. Mask up Sanibel and Captiva!!

  2. It does make one wonder that even following the CDC guidelines does not prevent one from getting this man made virus. We next look to the improved treatments and the vaccine that were put on a fast track to stop this contrived virus.

  3. Thank you to Arlene for sharing her story and to the Chronicle for sharing this article. I am a resident of Sanibel and generally feel very safe here but am older than Arlene and live alone, so I try not to be complacent about following the CDC guidelines and then some. I truly hope that everyone pays attention and stays safe over the next few months, until a vaccine proves viable, please respect one another and yourself, wear a mask.

  4. Bless your heart, Arlene!! What can I do? You have been such a big advocate for our safety and common sense during this virus. If you can get it, any of us could! Folks -please take care. Pay attention and follow the guidelines.

    I work and have to be “out there” every day and I worry about it. I wear my mask and social distance, use hand sanitizer and carry alcohol wipes with me everywhere – but I still feel I am just playing Russian Roulette with my health..and my husband’s. Praying for us all.

  5. Arlene, thanks for sharing this. We are thinking out you and Dan and the girls. This is REAL, folks. And right now things are getting worse. Canterbury school just had an outbreak with four students in two days. School was closed early for Thanksgiving break. We just read that Fort Myers High has had 34 total cases (and probably many more undocumented, asymptomatic cases), making it the tenth worst in the state. Sanibel is spiking at the moment.
    We are having Thanksgiving with just our nuclear family, and everyone should reconsider their plans.
    I am optimistic that all this will soon pass, we just need to be patient. Thanksgiving 2021 will be near-normal, because the vaccines are likely to be successful.
    Scott Crater, M.D.

  6. I am so sorry that you have contracted COVID. You passionately encouraged the three council members to enact the mask mandate which probably has saved many lives. Thank you for your leadership. You, of all people, should not have been stricken! Get well soon!!

  7. Arlene, I’m so sorry you’re ill with COVID, through no fault of your own. Sanibel is fortunate to have a face mask requirement inside public places, thanks to Mick Denham, Richard Johnson and Holly Smith. Former Councilman Maughan and former Mayon Kevin Ruane see no need to require face masks, so Sanibel citizens know who is looking out for their health and well being. With the flood of tourists coming on island & no one policing their activities on our beaches, we’re in trouble. We can only control ourselves, not what others do. Hope you have a speedy recovery.

    • Unfortunately, many do not comply with the mask mandate. Though my husband & I are not eating in restaurants, we have been advised that in the evenings, many Sanibel bars & restaurants are crowded with people not wearing masks, & talking, laughing, etc. Tourism is also an issue, as I notice many tourists do not wear masks. RE. our City Council, we are grateful that Holly Smith, Mick Denham, and Richard Johnson saw the need for a mask mandate, though Maughan and Ruane opposed the mask mandate. I hope all Sanibel voters will remember that Maughan was opposed to protecting Sanibel’s citizens and visitors when he runs for Council again in this next election.

  8. Arlene,
    Thank you for your story. My family has been coming to Sanibel for 35 years. After a small family dinner (5) earlier this month, multiple ones of us contracted the virus inspite of taking precautions. Fortunately, we are all on the mend. I am 80 and live alone so I know what how scary and isolating it is. I wanted to let you know that we have all experienced a day or 2 of crushing depression. It seems to be one of the lesser known symptoms. Please be good to yourself and let your body heal. I am disappointed in America and Americans but that is a conversation for another day.
    Sheila Porter

  9. Jennifer T. Scuteri

    Thank you Arlene for your successful Covid advocacy. Still, so much misinformation remains. When I returned to Sanibel in October, my cab driver assured me that Sanibel was almost covid-free. He did not know that FL reports cases by resident zip code, which means that unless you reside on Sanibel, a positive Covid test will not get reported to Sanibel. So, the waitstaff and other Island employees who have tested positive, are not in our numbers. City Council should explain this as tourists might be more cautious and respectful if they were accurately informed.

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