I may have been exposed to COVID-19 on Friday.
The chances are rather low. The person I interacted with showed symptoms over the weekend, but on Monday she tested negative and her husband tested positive. She may not have had enough of the virus in her system yet to register, or the test was a false negative (possible 20% of the time). Or she may not have it. She’s quarantined at home with her husband regardless.
We didn’t get closer than 6 feet. We only talked for a few minutes, but I was in the area of her office for longer. She isn’t allowed to keep her office door shut. I was wearing a mask, but she wasn’t.
(Wear a mask. They are 97% effective at keeping what you have to yourself, even if you don’t feel sick. They are only 30% effective at keeping you from getting what’s in the air. So if you both are wearing masks, you’re both 97% protected.)
Like everyone who knows they might have been exposed, my normal health hiccups are palled by this sinister possibility. Perhaps the allergies that kept me from sleeping well Saturday night, and which have had me periodically sneezing ever since, aren’t allergies. Maybe Tyler’s stomach issues last night aren’t just a one-off incident. Maybe my slightly dry throat is the start of a dry cough. Maybe that headache on Saturday and the one on Monday weren’t just my normal headaches. Maybe they’re the portent of danger multiplying in my lungs.
So far the person who I had contact with has very mild symptoms. Her husband’s are worse, but still mild.
It’s hard waiting for the other shoe to drop—if it drops—when the results are going to be so devastating.
An author I follow on Twitter recently shared the advice of her pediatrician, who said that if your children go back to school in-person, you have to accept that at some point they will come home with it. Not everyone has the option of keeping their kids at home. But this will absolutely contribute to the rapidly increasing numbers of new cases. ICU’s will be overwhelmed. And it will be more dangerous than ever to go out. If everyone—everyone—isn’t wearing a mask at all times.
Though I work at a publishing company, I’m not allowed to work from home while quarantining. To quarantine, I have to take 2 weeks of sick time, and since the person I was exposed to is a coworker, most of the people in the building would have to quarantine to be safe. Which we aren’t allowed to do. And if I take two weeks of sick time now, and don’t have COVID, that’s two weeks of sick time I can’t take the next time I need to quarantine, perhaps when the threat is greater.
It’s hard but necessary not to fixate. I oscillate between wanting to enjoy feeling well and normal in case it doesn’t last, and wanting to treat myself and Tyler with kid gloves, also in case it doesn’t last. I oscillate between not thinking about it at all and being hyperaware of the way my lungs feel, swallowing, an itch on my face I’m trying not to touch. There’s nothing else to do, really. I’ve already canceled our plans to run errands this weekend (before school starts back), and we already wear masks everywhere outside of our home. Either I have it and it’s yet to surface, or I don’t and it isn’t.
I could get tested, and I’m still considering it. However, I’m not considered high risk. I had less contact with my coworker than others in this building. They aren’t showing symptoms and aren’t worried, and my doctor isn’t worried either. Unless I show symptoms that aren’t normal for me (not headaches or possible allergies), I’m to wait.
Perhaps she didn’t get it until after work on Friday. Perhaps she doesn’t have it at all.
I hope she doesn’t, and doesn’t get it.
I hope her husband has an incredibly mild case.
I hope there is no other shoe to drop. (This time.)