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COLUMNS

COVID and I

Tim Croft
tcroft@starfl.com

Maybe it should be “me” instead of “I” but I will let my father as he turns in his grave decide.

But, COVID came to call a couple of weeks ago, or at least that was the word that was passed down, asking me if I had been in sufficient contact with a person who shall remain nameless.

In fact, the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County would not provide a name; all they receive from labs is gender, age and residence unless a test is positive.

In any case, I was swept up in a day during which nearly 400 people lined up in their cars at the health department in Port St. Joe to be tested.

Another 275 were tested Monday in Wewahitchka with a big twist: different lab.

Yep, the major problem on the day nearly 400 of us who believed we’d had contact with a positive case were tested was the lab the swabs were sent off to.

They had informed the state they were ready to assist: apparently that included one or two cases because they later informed the local health department they had been overwhelmed with tests.

Ready? Maybe not so much.

Of course, any explanation fell to those poor folks at the health department who had to explain that an allegedly ready and able lab wasn’t actually ready and able.

And, needless to say, the health department is no longer using that lab.

But, as a result I was still waiting a week later for results, which were a bit crucial because a company-wide policy has put a premium on isolating potentially positive cases.

Now, I am here to tell any of those in isolation, heck, just home for the day; don’t turn on the television.

Not only is the news in all CAPS and practically shouted but depending on what one is watching we are in the midst of just a pesky flu bug or Armageddon.

And social media, yikes, there is where sensible discussion and communication has vanished; theories and absurdity abounds.

So, left to its own devices, after a time the mind starts to work all on its own, conjuring all sorts of ailments and reasons your test has not returned, well beyond the 3-5 days one was originally told.

And don’t turn to local government for any answers.

In the span of two days last week a county official told commissioners that masks don’t really do all that much good while two days later Port St. Joe commissioners considered mandating them when outdoors.

So, doing your isolation business, theories take hold and don’t let go.

The test hasn’t come back because one’s swab is so full of COVID-19 that it has infected all other swabs.

The swab, which felt like a brain tickling exercise, found no evidence of anything inside the skull and nobody is sure how to break it to you.

The swab revealed you have 14 days to live so the isolation period is a perfect fit for you, so none the wiser.

As it would happen, the health department folks, noting I was also somewhat symptomatic re-tested me Thursday and had the results back on Saturday, a national holiday.

They called to let me know.

Truly, that provides comfort that the folks at our little health department demonstrate that level of concern.

And every one of them deserve medals for standing in the hot sun, protective gear and masks on and patiently registering and testing hundreds, now thousands, of people.

There are words for such people: public servants.

Still, no matter one’s place on the political spectrum, this virus, that some argued would magically disappear, has now killed more people than died in Vietnam or are killed each year by drunk drivers.

Combine those numbers and it still doesn’t reflect those sickened and killed by the virus.

And, the country with the most expensive health care system in the world has more positive cases and deaths than any country on the globe.

Yay, us; first in war, first in peace and first in COVID-19 cases.

And we are managing to hold off a charge from Brazil.

Sure, it all may be an election ploy, an alien race playing games or simply a hallucination we will all wake up from one day.

For now, though, I am not taking any chances.

It is just so hard to type with rubber gloves on.