Due to a health issue, the last class was the only one I could attend. The Friday before class Monday morning the agency hosting the class posted an announcement COVID-19 would necessitate decisions about operations as President Trump declared a National Emergency that same day.
Knowing the instructor, the evening before, I texted a question about the site and if it might be closed and if he would let me know. Hearing nothing, I left my house at 4 a.m. to make the 8 a.m. class on March 16. The class was taught as usual by the state sanctioned instructor. The President had announced social distancing saying groups of no more than 50 should gather.
Our group numbered just more than 20. There was some banter in the room before class started about social distancing. I had previously been to the facility and knew we could have been in the larger classroom so as to allow for space between us, but there we sat with almost every seat full. All sitting ducks. And then the accelerated bantering began with the instructor chimed in with the absurd quips of how it isn't as deadly, not as infectious, can't happen here and such. The instructor then explained the site didn't make the decision to go ahead with the class, he had. He was a scientist and he alone had made the decision... And was proud of it and as such, I believed he had put us all at risk.
With more chitchat, the woman next to me began to ball up and get smaller as her former boisterous, lively spirit seems to deflate. She has lupus and RA. But she was visibly sick. She quietly shared there were new cases in Oklahoma City, having no effect in fact less exchanges. The class review was about to begin when we received word the 2 site inspectors from the Department of Environmental Quality were directed to remain in their office, no outside travel. With that word, the instructor assured us we would be taking our test early and be home earlier than expected. All good, I am saying as the woman next to me seems weaker each minute.
Then, for some unknown and completely dim-witted reason, the instructor let the class go early for lunch before giving us our test. Everyone emptied out of the classroom, scattered all over Edmond and Oklahoma City for lunch BEFORE coming back together for the test.
The woman next to me asked me to go to lunch with her. I did not go. I went out to the car and read a book until the group gathered back. It was bad enough to have that much contact with the people in the room, but then when they came back, it was as if everyone they encountered at all those varied restaurants and cafes came back with them and brought all or any of their exposures to COVID-19.
I was furious. Wouldn't you be? Thinking of Italy, thinking of China, it was wrong to downplay the possibility of exposure as unlikely. It was happening. Fox News agreed that this “isn’t an overreaction. On the contrary, this is a commonsense, measured response to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.”
That very Monday the President spoke about the need to Social Distance for no more than 10 persons to gather together and that bars and restaurants should close to stop the spread of the virus. Even NASCAR postponed all races for months.
The day after the class, I contacted the woman who had sat next to me. She knew she was getting sicker and went directly to see a doctor who treated her for flu and gave her some meds. I am not sure they helped. She hasn't contacted me again. That class was 9 days ago. I was already staying in and following the CDC guidelines before having to go to that class.
Years ago, my mother kept a Diary and on each day during the Viet Nam War she made note of how many Americans had been killed that day. I regret we all are watching as the numbers globally grow, and hold our loved ones close as the numbers come closer and closer to our homes. On our own calendars we are marking days when we might have been exposed by our own actions, and when someone enters our isolation bringing all their exposures, only to start our calendar count over, looking always for the lucky 14 for days it may take before symptoms of the virus might appear.
Each one of us has choices. We can be a vector or not. I am doing my best to make it stop with me. And I believe you are doing that very same thing. My calendar numbers will reflect the dead, but they will not deflect my hope for zero new deaths, zero new cases. That was how it ended in my mother’s diary. Finally a day with no deaths to report. Hers and mine: Zero wins.