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Once my COVID diagnosis was made public, people started contacting me from all over the island. It was generally a great thing, so many good wishes, so many kind words, so many trips to the store to bring groceries to our door. That still doesn’t make the stigma of getting COVID go away.
Some of you innocently asked, “do you know how or where you got it?” My initial reaction to that was to feel defensive about it. It made me feel as if people thought I was being irresponsible and cavalier about the pandemic. I wanted to say “well, if I knew I was going to get it, I wouldn’t have put myself in a place where I could get it.” Finally, I realized that the real problem is that COVID is everywhere…the stores, the restaurants, the bars, the pool, and yes, even the beach! Anybody can get it, anywhere.
It’s frightening as a Sanibel resident to hear people saying, “So happy to be in paradise for the holidays, had to get away from COVID.” Well, I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but COVID lives in paradise too, especially during the holidays when people are flocking from all over the country.
Because I have COVID, the Florida Department of Health called to interview me on Friday November 20th. My positive test was taken on Monday the 16th and my results came on Tuesday. She asked me If I had interacted with anyone since the 18th. The 18th? By then I had already been sick for 4 days and had positive test results. I said of course not, but it has to make one wonder. Are people feeling ill, getting positive tests and still interacting with others? Do they still have to be told that they need to quarantine if they are sick?
As I write this the Lee Health positivity rate is almost 25%, which is ridiculously high. That is one fourth of the people being tested by Lee Health. Think about that! When you are in line at the testing site, one in 4 of you will be positive, so I would not be surprised if the rate is much higher by the time you read this.
The fact that so many of us will eventually get the disease will help to lessen the stigma, but that still doesn’t make you feel much better if you are the one with the positive test results today. So, my advice to all of you is to continue the kind words and acts of support for those of us who get COVID and be mindful that we are all vulnerable in a pandemic.
For those of you who do get COVID, remember you are not alone, but you must isolate immediately (seems crazy that I feel compelled to even say this, but apparently people are not doing it)! Do not put others in danger. Monitor your temperature, your oxygen level, stay hydrated and please don’t wait until you are extremely ill before going to the hospital.
Arlene M. Dillon
COVID Case #77