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Maridith Yahl: I report about COVID, but having been exposed, quarantined and scared, please wear mask


The day had been an ordinary day, nothing outstanding or special. I was relaxing on the couch, snuggling with my dog when I got the text. A friend I had just seen was sick. At first, she was just not feeling. Nothing specific, just worn out and tired. The next night, she told me she was feeling achy and hurt all over. No fever though. Later, the fever came, then nausea and vomiting, and then the unmistakable loss of smell and taste. We both knew what that meant. My friend has COVID.

My initial concern was for her and her girls. You never want someone you care about to be sick, much less have something as scary as COVID. I wanted to immediately go to her and care for her, but I knew I could not. All I could offer was to get anything she needed from the grocery store, drop it off and run — and my prayers.

Next, I began thinking about her daughters. Her mom said they were not showing any symptoms. Although they are older and more than capable of taking care of themselves, I did not want that for them. I again wanted to run over and take care of all of them. My friend because she was sick and her daughters, so she did not have to. All I could do was text them occasionally without being a pest.

Maridith Yahl

Then I began to think. I had been around her the day she began showing symptoms. Not much, but I had seen her and talked to her. I had been exposed to COVID. I did not feel sick and by this time it had been days, surely, I too would have been presenting with symptoms by now. Right? My mind began racing.

Her COVID was confirmed on a Monday morning. I went to take a COVID test and put myself in quarantine. I was mad, not at my friend of course. I was mad because my parents were supposed to come over Friday night for a fire and s’mores in our backyard. But my mom is at high risk.

Since COVID began I had been doing everything to protect myself and my parents. My mom has quite literally been on lockdown from the beginning. The only places she goes to is the doctor’s office and my house. That is it. To have this night taken away from her, which she was so looking forward to, was very upsetting to me.

Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health, Northern Kentucky Health Department is a big proponent of having outside activities. “Planning an outside activity, where people can be socially distanced, I think that’s just wonderful,” she says. She has done that herself over the summer and fall. She and her family have a fire pit and an outdoor movie projector and screen. They can have people over, safely.

When I talked to Dr. Saddler, I was on day seven of fourteen. She said it was encouraging I was showing no symptoms, most usually have symptoms by day five. However, the quarantine period is fourteen days for a reason and she urged me to keep the course.

“I’m so proud of you for doing that. It’s got to be difficult but it’s the right thing to do,” she says.

Another thought, I had to tell my mom she could not come over because I was exposed to COVID. I do not know about your mom, but my mom still treats me like I am seven years old. She is the fiercest mother bear ever. She wants to protect, and when something is wrong, she worries. She worries just as fiercely as she protects. Now I had to put my mom through the worry of me potentially having COVID. To top it all off, my brother was just in quarantine a couple of weeks ago at his home miles away.

With a mind running a million miles a-minute I thought, do I have it?

My thoughts immediately go to the worst-case scenario, so I automatically pictured myself in a hospital bed on a ventilator. The worst part of that was knowing my husband would not be allowed there with me to hold my hand. I was scared and nervous.

My test turned out negative.

What a relief and what an emotional rollercoaster!

However, I am staying in quarantine for the full 14 days. It is the right thing to do. What if I did still have it and it just was not showing yet? What if I saw my mom and passed it to her? What if I went grocery shopping and passed it on to someone there? What if I went to the craft fair. I had been planning to go to for a month now and I got a negative test, but what if I passed on to those there? How terrible and selfish that would be?

I am keeping safe not only because I do not want to get sick, but I want to keep my mom from getting sick.

I want to keep my friends from getting sick.

I want to keep anyone from getting sick.

Yes, wearing a mask is annoying. I have glasses and they always fog up. Plus, I have bad year-round allergies so having a stuffy nose is constant.

But so what? It is a very, small sacrifice if you can even call it that, to keep others from getting this virus.

I wear my mask for you so please wear a mask for me, or for whomever you love.

Maridith Yahl is the health reporter for the Northern Kentucky Tribune

Thanks to Report for America, with support from the Ground Truth Project, St. ELizabeth Healthcare, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the Douglas G. Martin Foundation. You, too, can support this reporting and other NKyTribune reporting with a tax-deductible donation today. Help us continue to provide accurate, up-to-date local news and information you can depend on.

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