Last week my sister’s father-in-law, who lives on the East Coast, was mowing his lawn. After he finished, he started feeling respiratory discomfort, chalking it up to the grass and weeds he’d stirred up while mowing.
A few days later, his wife experienced a runny nose, cough and muscle aches. Suspicious of her symptoms, she used one of her insurance-provided home COVID tests and tested positive for coronavirus.
Now believing he was responsible for passing it to her, he went over in his mind all of the people and places he’d visited in the days before: the church meeting he attended, his visit to see his granddaughter and great-grandchild, and his evening spent with neighbors.
In all, he estimated he had come in close contact with over 30 people.
He still didn’t take a COVID test, as he erroneously concluded it had been seven days since his initial symptoms and he was past the contagious stage. He only called his granddaughter to let her know that his wife, and possibly he, had COVID.
While vaccinations and boosters have made getting COVID a less extreme medical experience for most of us, these lesser symptoms can mimic a cold or allergies. With more of us out and about and reconnecting with others, it’s also quite possible that we could simply pick up a regular old-fashioned cold in the process.
In most cases, passing on a cold to someone is not life-changing, but passing on COVID to even a vaccinated and boosted person may be.
One of my very healthy 50-something friends recently contracted COVID after an in-person event she attended. Even though the doors and windows to the venue were open— and she was vaccinated—her case of COVID was very bad.
Besides the normal symptoms one reads about, she had cold sores around and inside her mouth. She had terrible back spasms, and her hair began falling out.
Even 10 days after exposure, she still tested positive and felt terrible. After later seeing an ear, nose and throat doctor, she learned she had two residual infections from her bout with COVID.
While her doctor felt her infections would eventually go away, he did not have a timeline for her full recovery.
Personally, I am so over COVID. It has impacted my life and the licensing rules we must abide by here at Senior Concerns for way too long.
I would like to forget it exists and go on with life as normal. But I realize I can’t, in part because we are seeing another surge, albeit less deadly than previous surges.
In the past three weeks a few members of my staff have had to quarantine because they were exposed to someone with COVID. A week ago, we had to temporarily shut down our adult day program to ensure our participants’ safety.
As I write this, I sit in our 10,000-square-foot building with only three of us answering phones. It took 25 months for COVID to reach us, even after all the masking, cleaning, 6-foot distancing and protocols we have had to follow.
I’m not sure if COVID reaching us has more to do with the world opening back up or the contagiousness of this recent strain.
What I am thankful for is that, while a few friends I know with COVID have ended up in the hospital and one in intensive care, all have begun their recovery. That is a blessing.
If there is a cautionary tale here, it is that a pesky cold or allergy headache may spread easier than you think and may not actually be a cold or allergy.
Every home in the U.S. is now eligible to order a third round of eight additional free at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests. For tests, go to covidtests.gov or call (800) 232-0233.
Your family, friends and neighbors will be thanking you for your diligence.