Pandemic Journal: Chaos

I didn’t want to write this article, because it’s tough, and sad, and awful. But, I would have wanted my ancestors to record those times too, maybe especially those times, so I am doing the same. Think of this as a letter from someone far away – in the past. You know the outcome when you’re reading this, but I don’t as I write it.

Dangerous Myths

Let me begin by saying that anyone who states any of the following is not only flat out wrong, they are a danger to everyone else:

  • Covid isn’t real (it is)
  • Covid is a hoax (just no)
  • Covid isn’t any worse than the flu (very wrong, here’s why)
  • Covid isn’t that bad (ask those dead people and their families, see here)
  • Covid is just going to go away (guess again)
  • Almost everyone recovers (nope, many are left debilitated)
  • Covid doesn’t affect children (tell that to my friend whose 6 -year-old is dead, see this article)
  • Masks are an attempt to take our rights away (think drunk-driving laws and seat belts)
  • Masks don’t work (wrong, view this)
  • Covid only kills “old people” or people “something is wrong with anyway” (this thinking horrifies me)

Not only is that last statement incorrect, but it’s also a horrible statement, all by itself.

Update – please note this compiled resource titled “You asked, we’re answering: Your top Coronavirus questions” for questions and answers about Covid, including sources.

And yes, those are actual quotes that I’ve heard SINCE my cousin was diagnosed in late July. Not months ago when no one knew much about this virus, this month, the month where we’ve crossed 5.6 million Covid cases in the US alone, the month where deaths have topped 174,000. Oops, that was yesterday. Today that number has grown by 1,113 to more than 175,000 and that total is assuredly significantly undercounted.

That’s the size of Pembroke Pines, Florida, Salem, Oregon, the state capital, Oceanside, California, Newport News, Virginia or Providence, Rhode, Island, another state capital. There are many smaller cities, including 8 more state capitals. Check it out here.

If a bomb had dropped and annihilated every single resident of one of these cities, the entire country would be in mourning and everybody would be doing everything possible to help. But there is no collective effort to do anything as simple as even wearing a mask to eradicate this preventible Covid-bomb.

If anyone came across a car flipped upside down in a lake with someone trapped inside, and all they had to do was put on a mask and the trapped person would magically be levitated out of the car, with no risk whatsoever to the mask-wearer, every decent person would be donning that mask immediately. They would be lauded as a hero, yet every single one of the 175,000 deaths that have occurred since spring is the direct result of someone ELSE not taking appropriate precautions.

Our personal safety is directly connected to the actions of the unknown people around us – unless somehow we can manage to stay home, contact-free entirely for the duration. Click either image above or below to enlarge.

Now the bad news – we’re on track to cross 300,000 deaths by Thanksgiving.

Those predicted death numbers may be LOW, depending on what happens between now and then. Best case, with universal mask-wearing beginning now, that total would “only” grow to a quarter million. Another 75,000 dead souls, families suffering, and that’s the best case.

If you click the above image to enlarge, look at “mandates easing” where the death toll is north of 540,000. Keep in mind, schools have just opened, in-person in many places. You can’t eat in a restaurant or gather in groups, but hundreds of kids can be together without masks all day. Talk about an infection vector for the entire community. What is wrong with this picture?

You could be one of those deaths, or someone you love, including children.

Even the kids understand, at least some of them. The headline of the student newspaper, the Observer, from ill-prepared Notre Dame University reads, “Don’t make us write obituaries.”

The US has more than a quarter of the deaths worldwide, yet we only have 4.25% of the world population.

How can anyone read these numbers and not realize there’s something TERRIBLY wrong here and that Covid is excruciatingly real.

If I sound outraged, I am. Frankly, I’m furious. Furious about the needless suffering and deaths of all the people I’ve already told you about in my past pandemic journal articles. Now, for my friend’s brother that died 4 days ago, and no, he was not co-morbid and was only 44. There was nothing “wrong” with him. Outraged about the unnecessary pain being experienced across this country.

And, for my cousin and his family.

My Cousin’s Story

I’m sharing my cousin’s story, disguised to obfuscate his identity. His identity doesn’t matter, because his story is the exact same story of thousands and thousands of other people. Multiply this by 175,000 plus another thousand or so people added every single day.

Not everyone who becomes ill with Covid dies, but 175,000+ people have been mowed down one-by-one by the Covid-monster, and this is their story too – and that of their families and friends. Not to mention all of those undercounted and who died later of complications. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the actual count is double or more.

Many who become very ill with Covid and don’t perish, don’t fully recover either. We’re only just learning the extent of the after-affects because Covid hasn’t even been with us a year. Yet it has ruined countless lives across the globe and is no place near finished.

I’m calling my cousin “Bob,” just for purposes of reference. I met Bob through genealogy, just like I’ve met so many of my dear cousins. My immediate family is very small, and I’ve been very blessed over the years to make connections with many cousins with whom I’ve forged long-lasting relationships. If you are thinking, “well, at least this wasn’t someone close to her,” you’d be wrong. When you have a small family, others, if you’re lucky, become your family-of-heart.

Bob and I researched our common genealogical line together, sharing frustrations and victories. He looked forward to the day when he could retire and spend more time on genealogy research. We planned our next avenue of attack.

Bob’s is in his early 50s. In fact, I think he “celebrated” his birthday while in a Covid coma, in the hospital on a vent. Happy Birthday Bob.

Bob was fortunate because, in his profession, he could work from home. He did and always wore a mask when he absolutely had to go out. He even ordered his groceries and wiped them down.

Bob lived in a city that became a Covid hotspot this summer. So much for the virus being destroyed by heat. He became even more cautious. Covid got him anyway.

His Facebook profile photo shows Bob wearing a mask, setting a good example, and he encouraged others to wear masks too. He washed his hands, often, and was sad that he couldn’t see family members. Bob lived alone. His children had fledged before Covid.

Just 42 long days ago, Bob decided to attend a family birthday party. It was inside, but he told me that everyone had been distancing from others, washing hands, and wearing masks. He was missing his family terribly and wanted to go.

I know how he felt, because those of us who have been the MOST cooped up are feeling the effects the most profoundly. You look at these opportunities and wonder, if you don’t attend, if you’ll ever get another opportunity. Someone there could die, including you. You’re squandering the days of your life missing out when others get to have fun, laugh, and you’re alone, in isolation. Stuck at home. Without your family. Looking at pictures of everyone else enjoying themselves. And most of the time, nothing bad happens, which of course makes you feel like it’s safer than it is. I mean, what are the chances, right?

No wonder depression is rampant and alcohol purchases are up 25%.

With Covid, you only get to be wrong once and other people are contagious long before they have any idea they have it.

Bob was exceedingly grateful for Facebook, social media and smartphones so he could connect with people, especially his kids – and talked about how difficult quarantine was.

He especially loved dogs and cats and enjoyed walking outside in the open where he could see other people’s dogs, although he didn’t ask to pet them anymore because that makes distancing awkward and difficult.

As it would turn out, Bob was “safe” at home, not “stuck at home,” although that’s certainly how it feels some days – especially when you’re watching other people engaging in the activities you want to do.

Bob attended that party. He told me a few days later that everyone there, EXCEPT ONE PERSON, wore a mask.

EXCEPT ONE PERSON

Two days later, Bob and I were chattering, exchanging our favorite memories of John Lewis who had passed away. John inspired Bob who told me that John “never bowed,” inspired him to do better, be better, be courageous, and to stand up for what is right. His favorite photo of John was walking with children at Comic-Con, lighting the way for a future generation.

The next day, Bob asked if anyone knew where there was a rapid Covid testing location, couching the question as “asking for a friend.” Queue up nervous laughter. No one wanted to be nosey and ask, but rest assured, every one of us wanted to know.

Bob took every opportunity to educate positively, and Covid was no exception.

Bob obviously found a Covid testing location, because two days later, just 6 or 7 days after the party, he posted that he had tested positive, then explained that his symptoms began with a cough but no fever, so he thought it was just bronchitis. Then, the rest of the symptoms followed, one-by-one, including a few non-standard symptoms like diarrhea and nausea. The fever seemed to be the LAST traditional symptom to develop.

Surely, he thought, he couldn’t have Covid. Everyone except one person wore masks and they distanced as best they could inside. And it was only once, one event. He had only taken one slight chance.

Bob’s Facebook feed was filled with well-wishers, of course, but also of some people who either currently had Covid or had had Covid recently, offering advice. Others were, themselves, waiting for test results.

I suspect if you posted on your Facebook page and asked how many have had Covid, you’d be quite surprised. I personally know several. Many people don’t talk about it, because there is some level of social stigma attached. ESPECIALLY if they haven’t been wearing a mask or have been out-and-about without distancing – because no one likes to hear “I told you so,” even if it’s unspoken.

Bob and I messaged and emailed back and forth. We discussed the situation in a couple of exchanges, then…..silence.

SILENCE

Do you have any idea how difficult silence is to endure when you know that someone you care about has Covid?

You have no idea how you’re going to find out what is going on. All you can do is wait, and attempt patience.

Bob’s friends and family who live distantly, me included, began posting encouraging but not nosey notes of encouragement on his timeline.

We all knew something was very wrong, because silence is not like Bob. Neither are short postings. Bob is never at a loss for words.

Three days later, one sentence. “I’m in the hospital.”

A family member posted a few hours later that he was stable. Thank goodness.

Exhale.

The next day, they started Bob on Remdesivir, but two days later, one word from Bob on his Facebook feed.

“ICU”

A few hours later, Bob posted that he was feeling better, and again another few hours later, just a couple words.

I heaved a huge sigh of relief, because although he was in ICU, he was obviously on the mend and improving. That’s the purpose of the ICU, but he was clearly very ill.

The next day, Bob posted a very odd message that he was listening to a specific song. When I listened to the lyrics, I wondered if he was trying to tell us something. I was relieved that he was finding comfort in music, and that was allowed in ICU. I hoped he had a phone charger and earbuds.

And then, for 6 days, there was nothing at all.

Not. One. Peep.

I know Bob’s family had to be going through living hell, so I wasn’t about to bother them. Not only was he obviously critical, but they couldn’t be with him. Bob was even more “alone” than he had ever been at home, and in a much worse way.

I remember vividly when my former husband had a massive stroke at age 47. He had been fine. There was nothing wrong with him until our world fell apart – much like Covid.

Then, a few days later, another stroke, then blood clots, DVTs that moved into pulmonary embolisms. Every minute of every hour of every day could be his last – and that went on for days, weeks and then months. Death by inches. The difference is that we knew he wasn’t contagious AND I was sleeping in the chair in his hospital room for much of the time.

That period of time was so horrific that I literally came away with what could probably be considered PTSD. It affected other family members in different ways, none of them good, literally tearing the family and family members into shreds.

Bob’s family, I’m sure, is experiencing even more extreme stress, watching him deteriorate from a distance with a cascading series of critical issues – any one of which could take his life – unable to comfort or touch him.

Bob’s last message was 22 days ago.

He was put on a vent and remains in a medically-induced coma.

Every few days, a family member updates the rest of us.

Updates

First, I’m extremely grateful for any news, because otherwise all I would be able to do is google daily for an obituary. How morbid is that?

Bob’s family has been riding an emotional roller coaster. They are living in the first ring of hell, closest to the fire. Been there, done that and no one escapes unscathed. The pain never abates or stops.

I remember all too well: “Oh, we have improvement. He’s getting better.” Only to be followed by: “Can you step into the consultation room please.” That room should just have been labeled the “bad news” room because, trust me, good news was not conveyed there. Just those words struck terror into your heart. And if the doctor called your phone, it was critical. I remember my phone ringing once while I was in line in the hospital cafeteria, just minutes after I had left my husband’s bedside. I just left everything where it was and literally ran.

For days, I’ve checked for information about Bob the last thing at night before I go to sleep, first thing in the morning before I get out of bed, and roughly every hour in-between. It’s emotionally exhausting, and I’m no place close to the first ring of hell where his family is living right now.

I can’t even make him a care quilt, because he obviously can’t have anything in Covid ICU, and even if he could, he couldn’t take it home with him for fear of exposing others.

Six days after the final message from Bob, his kidneys failed. Bedside surgical dialysis, because on a vent, he can’t go to the dialysis center.

Still hoping for a full recovery.

I couldn’t help but think to myself that I, at age 38, was entirely unprepared to deal with the sudden onslaught of medical terminology and rapid-fire leaning that had to occur in order to advocate for my husband. Bob’s poor kids, much younger than I was at the time, must be struggling mightily. My heart goes out to them. I wish I could help.

Then, more days of silence.

On my end of the world, my cat, Phoenix, our rescued fur-child died, my friend’s brother died of Covid, and two close family members are in need of immediate care quilts which means they may need other types of assistance as well. The nastiness on social media has ramped up. I have friends whose homes are threatened by wildfires in California and I don’t even want to talk about the stress surrounding my husband’s job. Things are coming a bit unraveled. Together, we’re managing. Thank Heavens the flowers are blooming and I can walk outside in the yard.

chaos glads

A rogue gladiola has popped up, somehow. Could it be a wink from Dad on the other side that somehow, things are going to be alright? I want to believe that.

Still Hopeful

I check many times every day for news about Bob and try to remain positive.

Seven days later, a family member says that Bob’s kidneys are improved, thank God, BUT now he has blood clots and a blood infection. He’s still on the vent and in a coma.

The family is discouraged but still hopeful for a full recovery. Imagine the story Bob’s going to hear about what happened during that coma when he is revived.

By the time we finally received the blood clot news, Bob had been on a vent for 13 days. All I can say is that I hope his brain is actually silenced and asleep and he’s not suffering in a “closed in” way.

More silence, then hopeful news. Bob’s oxygen levels had improved and so had the blood infection. Hurray!!!!

Permission to be hopeful. Bob was headed in the right direction.

Roller Coaster

But then, two days later, the roller coaster plunged again. Bob has a new and different type of blood infection, AND the blood clot in his leg moved to his lungs which means it’s a pulmonary embolism.

I lived through this with my husband. Pulmonary embolisms can be fatal without the complications of Covid. My husband said it was the worst pain he had ever experienced in his life. He begged to die. Maybe the coma is a good thing for Bob right now.

Bob’s family said they would update us as soon as they had something to report.

That was 4 days ago – 98 hours and counting.

Radio Silence

I know his family members are suffering terribly. It must be exceedingly difficult for them to post updates when the last thing they feel like doing is posting to social media. Sometimes reducing things to words is more than the mind can bear, especially when you’re trying to remain positive, but the news isn’t. Not to mention they may not be ready for a deluge of communications.

Grieving, especially real-time in public, is difficult at best and something most of us have little experience with. No one wants that baptism-by-fire experience either.

I’m sure they are completely overwhelmed. I can only hope they have some sort of support.

I pray that no news means Bob hasn’t passed and that he is on the road to recovery. That’s all I can do. I feel entirely helpless. Perhaps telling his story will help even just one person avoid Covid.

As for me, I’ve had a headache for more than a week now, and I’m still checking for news every hour or so. Compared to the utter hell and agony that his family is living through, my experience is nothing. I’m sure it’s just cumulative stress because, well, you know, 2020.

Checking…

Waiting…

Checking…

Waiting…

Bottom Line: Wear the Mask, Stay Home, Wash Your Hands

Here’s the bottom line:

chaos wear the mask.png

  • Wear the mask
  • Stay home or stay distant
  • Wash your hands

I did not ask Bob if the person at the party who did not wear a mask had tested Covid-positive. They could never have tested if they were asymptomatic and never knew they were spreading death and misery at a level beyond anyone’s imagination.

Does whoever gave Covid to Bob know that they are responsible for his illness and perhaps his death? Probably not.

It’s possible that Bob picked the virus up elsewhere, NOT at the party. We have community spread throughout the US now. Maybe getting gas or who knows. However, if everyone had worn a mask and isolated, all at once, in the spring, and weren’t taking unnecessary chances, we’d have wrestled this viral scourge to the ground months ago and it would not be burning through our population like a wildfire consuming dry timber.

Stay safe at home. If you don’t need to expose yourself, don’t. Just don’t. If you could ask Bob if any outing is worth the price he’s paying – I know what his answer would be and so do you.

The devastation on Bob’s life, assuming he lives, may include life-long disability.

If Bob passes away, his hospital bills will decimate his estate.

If he lives, those bills may wipe out his retirement nest-egg, if they don’t force him into outright bankruptcy. My husband’s hospital bill was in the millions. Thankfully, insurance paid most of it, but it took me years to pay the balance even AFTER I used all the retirement funds.

If anyone seriously doesn’t know someone who has had a severe case of Covid, or a family who has suffered through this, PLEASE send this article to them. Although, at this point, I’m beginning to think that people who oppose wearing masks and continue spouting talking-points that justify their anti-mask and anti-distancing positions are engaged in willful ignorance.

Think about all of those 175,000+ people who have died. Every single one of those families is going through this or some similar experience. These deaths are torturous, not just for the victim, but for their family and friends too.

Some people who “recover” don’t completely recover, even though they don’t die.

The toll a Covid illness takes isn’t just on the patient, but radiates like ripples in a pond, affecting their immediate and distant family, ripping a hole in the stability of their family fabric, inflicting trauma that will never heal. Those ripples spread further into the community and society as well, through networks of friends and colleagues. While every single family is individually devastated, with their own hell-version of this story, the tentacles reach throughout our society, destabilizing everything from family units to the economy.

And you want to know what’s worse – we are still NOT in control of this virus.

We’ll have another 175,000 deaths before long unless we change our approach. We’re headed into winter when people are back inside, flu season hits and schools are reconvening in person now.

When I titled this article “Chaos,” I was referring not just to what is happening to my cousin’s family and friends, but to the pit of hell inferno and unrelenting sorrow that the rest of us collectively are staring into if we don’t do something different, and quickly.

The best predictor of future performance is what happened in the past – and 175,000 deaths over 6 months is a grim prediction. There’s still time to change our collective behavior, but we absolutely must if we want to slow and stop this raging wildfire. There is no miracle cure. The only thing that can save us – is us.

Slow Dancing In A Burning Room

It’s not a silly little moment
It’s not the storm before the calm
This is the deep and dyin’ breath of
This love we’ve been workin’ on

We’re goin’ down
And you can see it too
We’re goin’ down
And you know that we’re doomed
My dear
We’re slow dancing in a burnin’ room

Don’t you think we outta know by now?
Don’t you think we shoulda learned somehow?

chaos just wear it.png

Epilog

August 25th – My cousin, Bob, died today, a month to the day after he was diagnosed and 28 days after being admitted to ICU. Yesterday, just four hours before he died, his family posted that while he still had bacterial pneumonia and blood clots, that his lungs were improving. Then, he was gone. His body just couldn’t fight anymore.

This monster took him, but not with out the assistance of the legions of people who refuse to wear masks. They killed him just as assuredly as if someone had driven drunk and hit him. The difference being that because we can’t trace this virus back to the string of people who transmitted it, the responsible parties can glibly live their own lives, in full denial of the havoc, wake of destruction and grief that they are leaving behind.

107 thoughts on “Pandemic Journal: Chaos

  1. Your post touched my heart and I feel for you in your pain
    I have a friend who was badly affected , on a ventilator and now struggling with a long recovery
    My husband and I were locked down here in England for almost 5 months , hopefully there is now some light in the darkness .
    I have friends who have been devastated economically and our country has the highest national debt ever and a looming recession ( Depression )
    But our forebears lived through bad times as well and ‘ this too will pass’
    Keep well I love your posts and am learning DNA skills

  2. Thank you for the post. I would send it to my friend who just said, “don’t worry about the virus … it will all be gone after election day.” She has bought into the sad, sick, story that the coronavirus is either a hoax or has been blown out of proportion by the media. Meanwhile, people suffer, people die, people suffer some more. I alternate between weeping and being outraged.

    • I feel the same. So many of my family and friends have the same opinion as your friend. It’s like watching an impending train wreck (with people you love on board) and not being able to do anything to stop it.

  3. My condolences. My mother-in-law has been battling Covid since May 6th. She goes into hospice this weekend because nothing will ease the pain in her chest, the breathing treatments worsened the pain and there is nothing the medical profession can do to help her recover. She has been bedridden most of the last three months. It’s awful, it’s real and people need to wake up.

  4. Roberta, we come to you for your lucid insights into DNA analysis…I don’t want politics or Covid because it is all around me. You have my deepest sympathy- but I must unsubscribe.

  5. Roberta, I am guessing this is the most important post you have ever written. Thank you for caring and sharing!

    In my latest issue of National Geographic, September 2020, “Cities in the US used a wide range of interventions to try to contain the 1918 pandemic – from closing schools, banning public gatherings, enforcing isolation and quarantine.” “Cities that ordered measures sooner, and for longer periods, usually slowed infections and lowered overall death rates.” Graphs of cities are shown.

    Please let us listen to Roberta, and pass it on to family and friends. Let us learn from the past and from history!

  6. Thank you again Roberta. You are a wonderful person and writer. I could never put it into words like you do. Just so you know I pass on your articles like this to my fiends and family and get many positive replies back. Some people believe they have the right to chose not to protect themselves however in doing so I also state they can do so but they then do not have the right to go out amoung others and risk their lives. I think that if people are caught in large groups/parties unmasked etc then round them up and put them in a military compound for a 14 day isolation period at their expense. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Bob and his family.

  7. I am so very sorry for the pain you are experiencing. The gladiola is beautiful and perhaps could be inspiration for a lovely, quilted wall hanging for Bob’s homecoming. With Love.

  8. It is not surprising that almost everyone is dealing with some degree of depression/anxiety, and anger. None of this is supposed to be happening in America. There are third world countries which have done better. So much suffering and sorrow could have been avoided if everyone had done a few very simple things; like staying home, wearing masks, and distancing until the number of cases was down enough to reopen safely. I am so disappointed to learn how many Americans are so selfish that they are not willing to make even a small sacrifice to help others—and themselves if they only knew it.

    We live just a few miles from a University town, and I dread to see classes start there on Monday. The last few days have set records for higher numbers each day. And there will probably be a lot of parties this weekend.

    Since this all started my prayer almost every day has been: “Lord have mercy.” (Every one included.)

    • Two of my family members work at a university teaching hospital. I share your concerns. I want to be wrong.

  9. My cousin was married two days ago. Around 25 people attended, including my parents and grandmother. It was an outdoor wedding, and the first one to happen for that side of the family. I wasn’t there myself, but I saw a livestream of it.

    Of the 25 people who attended, only my parents, grandmother and an aunt and uncle wore masks. No one else did, even though there were special wedding masks available. There was also plenty Purell too, not that I think anyone used it either. And while the seats themselves were socially distancing, the people weren’t: they were all close to each other during different parts of the ceremony. There was even dancing, honest-to-god dancing! The only people who didn’t participate were the ones who did wear masks.

    Apparently, the bride and groom, along with the bride’s parents, were the ones responsible for the whole not mandating masks. The bride’s parents are actually Canadian, which would make you think they would be a little more aware than us Americans, but nope. They actually flew into the States for the wedding a few days beforehand, and they did not quarantine themselves at all. I can only imagine how the groom’s father, a doctor, felt about the whole thing. Ironically, the uncle who did wear a mask is actually a pretty conservative person politically. I am grateful he took it so seriously, but it makes me all the angrier that the bride’s parents just didn’t bother with any precautions when even my conservative uncle did.

    And what makes it all the worst for me is that my grandmother was there. She’s 84 and has a history of pneumonia. She wore a mask and my parents assured me she practiced social distancing, but I’m still terrified about the possibility she got it from that wedding. It was her first grandchild’s wedding, what should be an extremely happy day for her, and she was acting responsibly the whole time. But because almost no one else acted responsibly, what does it matter if even one person there had it and unknowingly spread it to her? It would be a nightmare I’ve been worried about since March. She’s my last grandparent, and I don’t want to lose her, not to COVID, not because she attended her own grandson’s wedding.

    So far, as far as I know no one has it. Everyone is perfectly fine so far. If either of my parents or my grandmother start to feel the least bit under the weather I’ll insist they get tested immediately. Honestly, I think they should get tested now to be safe, along with everyone else at that wedding.

    Roberta, I’ve been reading your blog posts for quite some time, and I must thank you for this article. It might make me all the angrier about the wedding and all the more scared for my grandmother, but it’s good and important that you wrote it. If more people would listen to you, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess right now. Thank you for writing this, and I pray Bob will get better soon.

  10. Thank you for sharing this. It breaks my heart. I appreciate the pain you went through in sharing it to make a difference. Hugs.

  11. Roberta, there’s little if anything you said that I would disagree with. But I am less tolerant of bullying from my own side than from other people. This post is off topic, and your tone is arrogant and bullying.

    If you said maybe 10% of it in a more appropriate setting, I’d say Go girl!

    • I’m just going to leave this here. If people understood the magnitude of what Covid sufferers and their families go through, from a personal perspective, not just some random unknown person they think might not actually be real, they might be more inclined to take the simple step of wearing a mask. This pandemic will shape the stories of our families and genealogy for decades to come if we don’t get it under control.

      • Your article was an outpouring of grief, certainly not bullying or arrogant. People need to learn to care about each other. It’s such a small thing to do, wearing a mask and washing hands. Why does this seem to “cost” people their “rights”. We all have a right to not die at the hands of others. I look forward to reading that Bob made it.

      • My own read of your tone was that it was full of grief, dismay and urgency. One tiny upside to the big picture is that I’m seeing more and more folks in masks — when I have to go out.

  12. I’m one of those people at high risk and do battle with idiots on FB who just don’t get it. The other day someone told me to just “chill out” and i came upglued on them. I have 5 risk factors. I appreciate that you wrote this and hope the Bob’s story will help someone save a life by wearing a mask.

    • For those of you at high risk, I wish you good health and freedom from harm. For those who think this post was too political or whatever, all of life is political. And everything any of us do impacts others. Why not try to save lives or help others?

  13. I’m so sorry to hear your news. It is the most poignant description I have read. Would you allow me to post the bulleted portion of it on my FB page, just as a reminder to those who are still being stupid?

  14. In addition to being careful, wearing a mask there are supplements that have been recommended to help mitigate – my doctor recommended everyone take 10K of Vitamin D3. Other supplements are zinc, sambucol/elderberry, NAC, quercetin, astragulus, Vitamin C . Some dentists are also using a diluted iodine spray in the nose every night that kills the virus before it gets in the system.

    • I would encourage everyone to be very careful with all supplements. For example, I can’t take some supplements because they interfere with a prescription I take regularly.

  15. Thanks, Roberta. My mother’s family had a similar story from the 1918 flu. Two died, the rest recovered. Her brother who was a dentist was called up to help the sick who were put into tents. The family was in Minnesota, Michigan, and Alberta. Some were in cities, some in villages and some on farms. My aunt was teaching school when she got it. Luckily she recovered after almost dying. That generation knew to take these viruses seriously. This generation 100 years later needs to do the same!

  16. Very good article, Cousin. I am so proud of you! Even if only one or two persons who’ve read this decide to begin wearing face coverings around others–your having written this will likely save many lives–unknown transmission rate (it can be exponential in certain cases) together with asymptomatic transmission, etc. We all are figuring out just how serious this is–and it has everything to do with my love of genetic genealogy. And this is not me making light of the situation, because it is happening. I cannot communicate with my cousins about our mutual families if they have died. Seriously.

  17. Roberta,
    I am a distant cousin of yours (Vannoy) and a retired nurse. It saddens me to see some people not being able to read this beautifully written article. Facts and truth need to be told. You have shared so much with so many people about genealogy and dna that it is our turn to listen to you pour your heart out. I wear a mask and am hyper vigilant. We bought a new car this week and several times at the car dealer I had to tell someone who came up to me to pull their mask up over their nose. I see people who go out to parks and other places with family and friends and like Bob feel that it would only take once for something to happen. I won’t even get take out from my favorite family run restauant because they don’t wear masks. My trips to a store are quick. Back at the end of March the historical society asked for people in Wisc. if they would chronicle about the virus and I have been doing so about once a month. My first entry I titled, The Unseen Enemy at the Door. I will be sharing this personal story of yours and what so many others are going through.
    Love, Marsha

    • Hi Marsha. Please feel to include any of my articles that might be appropriate for your society. Although I’m clearly not from Wisconsin.

  18. Thank you for this, Roberta. I’m one of the lucky ones who can work from home, and have been doing so since March. In June my father had a massive heart attack and by some miracle managed to survive the quadruple bypass, but I was constantly afraid of exposing him to Covid unwittingly, and his mother, my grandmother, as well. About a month ago my grandmother passed away. As far as we know she didn’t have covid, but she was 91 years old and surely stressed and depressed at not being able to get more visitors, or any help from the many relatives because they were worried about getting her sick. Because she died on the way to the hospital, we were never allowed to see the body again. She was just gone. We still have to go through 60 years worth of stuff in her house and then get around to selling it, and some day hopefully have a memorial service when it’s safe. On top of working, my wife and I also have to home school our two young daughters until the schools are safe again, which is never the easiest task, and they certainly don’t appreciate the change. We found a way through it before the summer, because that was only for a few weeks, but doing this for an entire year will be challenging. And yet we’re fortunate, and very aware of that. Many are not fortunate enough to be able to work from home, keep the children at home without risking daycare exposure, access to good broadband and phone service. Like anything else, Covid certainly exposes and lays bare our national disparities.

    • I told my husband recently that I’m just so grateful that my kids are grown. I can’t imagine being a single Mom during this time and trying to balance all if this, including kids at home. I couldn’t work without day care or school. I couldn’t feed the family if I didn’t work. And with Covid, in that scenario, there are no good answers now. That’s one reason why I’m so upset that this wasn’t tamped down earlier.

      I’m so sorry for your loss. We have funerals waiting too. Some were done virtually. One is graveside next week.

  19. Wow! That’s all I can say, Roberta. What a stunning article. Thank you so much for your amazing words. Please ignore the naysayers. I am so sorry for your cousin, and hope it turns out well. I also am staying safe at home. I do not go out at all. My family brings me groceries and other necessities.It is hard, but better than what you are going through. I will be sharing your article on my Facebook page and with my genealogy group.

  20. Roberta,

    Sorry to hear of your loss, and thank you for the reminder to continue to stay safe at home.

    We have stayed in and have only ordered parking lot pick up for groceries, but lately, now that the pos rate has dropped in our area, we have done drive thu a couple of times and had someone leave a pizza on the porch, etc. I think we should stop that. Drive thru gets you too close via the window and too often delivery people will linger outside the door worried you do not know they are there. Masks only do 1/2 the work, distance is key.

    So, since we made a change and are ordering food on occasion, I now worry whenever I do not feel well and I also have had some mild symptoms – it could be anything, like your headache – don’t know. I have nausea and a sore throat, but there is so much stress out there.

    When in the car picking up groceries, I wear a mask in the car and keep the fan blowing and like Bob, I wash items going in the freezer and fridge and things that can’t go in the hot water soap dip, like veg and bread, get set aside for a few days.

    Yes, constant stress and the unknown can also cause PTSD and cause your “fight or flight” response to get stuck in the “On” position to where you can no longer turn it off – at all! The stress and anxiety nonstop is awful and very – very painful.

    For me the distraction I used during my crisis was ancestry, and other sites, because it requires just enough concentration and active engagement. At PTSDs worst, books and TV would not work, I could not stay focused long enough to read or watch TV in order to reduce the stress and anxiety. I could not concentrate.

    I too had a loved one with an illness, a child, who was never diagnosed but experiencing heart and breathing problems and constant pain. Endless trips to children’s hospital. Endless specialists with no clue, eventually homebound from school by Dr’s order. No idea what to expect, no way to help. It has now been 10 years.

    So, when my mother died a few years ago, right after our beloved dog died, who we adopted 13 years prior, after my father’s death, those events were the final straws that toppled me over the edge into PTSD, an edge and an abyss that I had no idea even existed. I did not see it coming.

    So, people – take care and do things to reduce your stress – the edge is not something you can always see. Listen to music and get exercise, etc.

    A few years later I am now functioning much better, but I can still feel the edge of that cliff near my feet, should I let my mind get to close to it all.

    Anyway, after my mother’s death, and before the cliff, a neighbor brought over an orchid. I planted it in the yard and it was largely left unattended. When they came back to visit, after I had started my recovery – it was found blooming once again – all on its own.

    So, take heart in those blooms.

  21. Thank you, Roberta, for sharing your life with us. Beautifully. Heart-breakingly. I will be holding m thumbs for you and your family, your friends. And for all of us.
    Anna

  22. So, you really know a child who died of Covid19? That’s very, very rare. In the U.S. 99.8 percent of deaths from infection with SARS-CoV-2 have been people over the age of 18. Like the original SARS virus this virus has a J-shaped rather than a U-shaped mortality curve. This is unusual for viral infections. No one know why this is true for sure, but there are some interesting theories. One is that their immature immune systems don’t overreact to the virus, thus preventing a cytokine storm, that some scientists think causes most of the damage from this virus.

    • Yes, her parents live an hour away from me and she was friends with my friend’s daughters. She was 6 and died about a month ago. I also have another friend who is a NICU nurse here and she sees children in the hospital there too with Covid. It does happen.

      • Please read the American Academy of Pediatrics report issued a few weeks ago that says the dangers of not opening schools is greater than the dangers of Covid19 in this age group. They strongly recommend that all schools open. Their recommendation has largely been ignored.

        • This is what the American Academy of Pediatrics actually said—“Returning to school is important for the healthy development and well-being of children, but we must pursue re-opening in a way that is safe for all students, teachers and staff. Science should drive decision-making on safely reopening schools. Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics. We should leave it to health experts to tell us when the time is best to open up school buildings, and listen to educators and administrators to shape how we do it.

          “Local school leaders, public health experts, educators and parents must be at the center of decisions about how and when to reopen schools, taking into account the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and the capacities of school districts to adapt safety protocols to make in-person learning safe and feasible. For instance, schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts. A one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions.

        • The problem is where you say dangers in this age group. The schools are not run by robots. In order for schools to open their doors, there have to be teachers, administrators, school bus drivers, an so on. Those people are at risk also and will be risking infecting family members at home. There is no simple solution for ensuring the well being of the children.

        • I think the use of the words “this age group…” are very important words to point out.

          This is a statement taken out of context because:

          “This age group” lives in close contact with all those of other age groups.

          They are children and therefore must be tended to by adults, and they are not living in a “bubble”

          Their teachers are also not in “this age group.”

          All those who come in contact with these kids, kids who will be infecting each other on a large scare, as well as their own families will also become ill with varying degrees of severity

          For these children, losing a loved on is certainly a great harm to them, and when you consider that we likely only have to wait months now, rather than years for a vaccine, I do not see the plus side to sending hem back into schools at this time.

          We are not just concerned about “this age group” it is about all of us.

          The same is true for young adults who are less likely to become seriously ill, but some still do. When restrictions were lifted too early in my state and they went out to party at night clubs, we ended up with the highest pos rate in the world, last month, and in the weeks that followed, we also had the highest per capita deaths as a lagging indicator – so it was not just about them.

          After our governor – finally- let mayors impose mask restrictions, due to all the media attention, and he closed bars and gyms (places where young people congregate) cases plummeted, and now we are getting back on track…but colleges are opening so I doubt it will last long

          The point is that all those deaths could have been avoided – it does not matter that that “particular age group” is not severely impacted – they spread it to their families and loved ones and throughout the community.

          They young are also likely to be asymptomatic carriers and spreaders – the most dangerous

          Social distancing is critical – masks are also critical – avoiding large crowds indoors is critical

          This means schools simply can’t safely open.

        • I am retired living in Mexico. In Mexico we love our children. We are NOT reopening our schools but rather using TV to broadcast lessons since so many don’t have computer access. Over 93% do have access to TV.

          {{{{{Roberta}}}}} and you are 100% right – wear the danged mask

  23. I shared to Facebook with the line, What’s it all about Alfie? That movie where his willful and selfish behavior cause his demise. Thanks so much.

  24. Dear Roberta,

    This is a painful, beautiful cry out to all of us. It’s a critical and powerful reminder because it’s hard to keep the extreme urgency in the front of our consciousness day after day. In the part of Sonoma County where I live, we’re also now living with either being evacuated, waiting to be warned because of uncontrolled fires, and dealing with off- and- on orange to red zone air pollution. So now we have two reasons to wear masks constantly.

    Thank you for your clarity, humanity, and passio. It’s why I sent you my cousin Erik’s writing and I’m now going to send this on to him (whom I haven’t heard from for a couple of weeks).

    Take care 🙏🏼
    Ann

  25. Sending love from Australia 🇦🇺 I live in Victoria which is in total lockdown, great time for researching online but hard not to be able to hug my family.
    Each day hearing how many deaths for the day is the worst. Knowing that someone I know is suffering because a loved one is ill and they cannot see them. So sad.
    Be strong, stay safe, we will get through this.

    • I can’t wait for the day I can return to Australia and New Zealand! Stay safe. I thought you guys had it stamped out for awhile.

  26. As always, beautifully written and heartfelt. I wish you and Bob the best. For those who see this as a political statement – not within the realm of genealogy – as opposed to a cautionary message, it is about about family and caring for our communities. Thank you Roberta.

    • I would add that the virus is not political, and I took great care to NOT include anything that was political or sources that could be interpreted that way. This virus is about science, health and prevention.

  27. I don’t disagree with what you have said but I am more hopeful that we are making some progress. Perhaps that is because I am in Idaho where the death rate is lower relative to their population. The deaths in NY and other eastern states has been much higher relative to their population than what has occurred thus far in CA. I believe that the treatments are much better now than they were in March and April and that has resulted in a lower death toll. I do hope some of the young people will wear masks and avoid the huge gatherings but I know that is hard for them. We are not Germany and can’t dictate and get compliance from people the way they can. My family story is that one of my grandmother’s sisters who served in WWI as a nurse in France was engaged to a doctor who died in the 1918 pandemic. Rebecca

  28. Roberta,
    I am so sorry he has not well, he is my thoughts.
    I hope you don’t mind but I want to share this blog page on my FB page. Maybe some people I know will take this pandemic to heart hearing your story.
    Love and Hugs,
    John

  29. Your blogs have always been about life and death and family; those with us now and all those in the past, and how important every life is. This post is NO different. Off topic? No way! Bullying? Totally ludicrous! Thank you for speaking out for all of us.

  30. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Your writings are such a blessing! Never stop! If only one person listens, it’s worth it!

  31. Roberta, God Bless and keep you and your family in his loving arms. From a distance mine hold you with love. I read as much of your postings as possible and the info re DNA is so meaningful not just to me but to all of us in this old world. I am 80 and I have been working on my Family history since I was 14 when my Mom and Grandmother gave me a huge amount of data. My Grandmother sent me a needlepoint of the Hilton Coats of Arms which has been confirmed by my English friends. I live in a Long Term Care Home here in Harvey Station, New Brunswick, Canada due to injuries from a car accident. We are in isolation due to our various illnesses. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

  32. There is an excellent article by Ed Yong in The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/08/long-haulers-covid-19-recognition-support-groups-symptoms/615382/

    Of those of us who had a “mild” case (i.e. never had to be hospitalized,) many are still not recovered months later. I got it in mid-March and am still on the roller coaster. This virus does not behave in a way that we are used to. There is no sure progression of getting better and better each day. One exertion slightly more than usual and you are knocked flat for 4-5 days with an ever-changing variety of symptoms.

    I’m lucky: I’m retired, so don’t need to go to work; I live in the country, so can go out in the beauty of nature without meeting other people; I don’t have young children to worry about; I have good quality internet and many interests and our younger son came to stay with us after we were no longer contagious and does all the shopping.

    Think of all the young people for whom this is not the case. They can’t afford to be ill this long and others count on them to be in health and productive. This is not something anyone should play around with! Yes, it is possible that you will only have a mild case and there will be no after-effects. But it is also possible that you will end up with a chronic illness. We just don’t know yet, because it hasn’t been long enough to see whether we “long-haulers” will eventually throw this thing off completely… or not.

    • My daughter, age 39, is a long hauler. She’s a person who eats clean, works out every day and has a very positive outlook on life. She got sick around March 23 and didn’t leave bed for almost 4 weeks except to go to the hospital twice for supportive care (once overnight) and for a test. Her test was positive and she’s still sick now (almost 5 months later!) even though she’s tested negative for for the virus, twice.

      I sent her the article you included the link for just a few days ago and she said the article could have been written about her. She has every single symptom described in the article and no answers. She even has PTSD because of the fear she felt while she was so sick. She said the virus made her sick in ways she’d never experienced before and she was terrified. I was, too.

      She is a member of a long hauler forum for support, and she has a supportive general doctor working with her. She has hand and foot tremors, headaches, sweats, intestinal issues, erratic heart beat, severe short term memory loss, blood clotting, bulging veins, bruising, brain fog. And she still has to sleep a lot. It’s really scary.

      You’re absolutely right when you say we just don’t know yet.

      And as Roberta said, wear the mask. Protect others (and ourselves) from this virus. From what I’ve seen firsthand, you don’t want to take the chance of getting it. We just don’t know enough about this virus to take any chances.

      • I’m so sorry that your daughter is going through this, but glad she found the long-hauler support group and that she has a supportive doctor (and mother!) So many have had little to no support from doctors or the people around them, because the symptoms don’t fit with what they thought they knew about the virus in the beginning.

        As your daughter said, the virus makes you sick in ways that are unlike anything you have experienced before. It is not like a flu and the uncertainty of where it is all leading is scary. My daughter is also 39 and working with the public. I worry constantly that someone will unknowingly pass it on to her because they just will not be bothered to wear a mask.

        All the best to your daughter — hang in there! You are not alone.

        • Thank you so much. It certainly isn’t the flu. There needs to be more coverage in the media about the long haul effects of this virus. Everyone wants to get back to normal, and no one more than my daughter and I. Unfortunately. I’m concerned going into the fall and winter months when everyone will be spending more time indoors. Anyway, thanks everyone for your support and concern. We’re hoping that my daughter’s lingering issues will slowly abate in the coming months.

  33. Thank you for caring enough to share these personal and incredibly moving stories of suffering and loss with the world, adding an emotional, heartbreakingly human dimension to this pandemic’s horrifying and truly tragic statistics.

  34. What a wonderful article and sad at the same time. I know of so very many who think this will “go away” in November. I just can’t believe how people can feel that way. My husband & I have been wearing our masks every time we go out in public which is only to grocery stores as needed. He will be having surgery this week and staying safe is so very important.

    Many prayers for all those suffering at this time.

  35. i agree that by spring time of next may here in the US we are looking at 500k deaths even tho we wear our mask,wash our hands often an stay home ,we do not see the deaths in south america brazil has over 100k deaths
    so will this virus be with mankind forever or just kind of disapear

  36. Thank you Roberta for this vivid reminder of how serious Covid 19 is today. Future generations who read this newsletter will be able to understand the thinking of the time and, as you relate, will know the outcome of this pandemic. We can’t now know this outcome as we are living in it but are left to hope and pray it ends soon and without more casualties. If this newsletter saves but one life, it will have been worth it. Stay safe, stay well.
    Danny

    • I think it has already helped. A lady wrote to me and told me her 96 year old father is now a believer. Sometimes a first hand experience of someone we know makes all the difference.

  37. Thank you Roberta once again. A heart wrenching blog to read and I hope Bob pulls through. Your blogs are compulsory reading for me, I learn so much from you.

    To fill you in on New Zealand. I’m a New Zealander and we had 102 days with no community cases, but now have had a new cluster develop. Unfortunately it was in one of our most dense populations in Auckland and had spread in the family before they realized. However, our wonderful Prime Minister – Jacinda ARDERN, along with our government and General Director of Health, Ashley BLOOMFIELD, acted quickly and decisively. They raised the alert levels to Level 3 in Auckland and the rest of the country to Level 2, we await the news today of the next move as it appears to have ring fenced the outbreak though the cluster has grown and will continue to grow. We only have one unknown case not linked to the cluster but they think they know how he got the infection.

    I am very hopeful for us that this is the case. Unlike the reports from Donald TRUMP that NZ is in trouble, we are not, it’s nothing like in the States. So far we still only have 22 deaths and I hope there will be none from this outbreak though I am concerned as a few are in our ICU which is very worrying. Out government has supported and encouraged us to work as a team together – the team of ‘5 million’ and to be kind. Not everyone does this but by far the majority continue to do the right things.

    Fortunately in New Zealand our hospital care is free, I cannot imagine how it must be to face those hospital bills you do as a consequence of any illness. How do the poor people get on, are they cared for?

    The message though is that this virus is nasty, it’s clever and doing everything we can as an individual to reduce the spread is vital. It helps save lives.

    Blessings to you and your family Roberta
    Kind regards
    Sharyn

  38. Thank you, Roberta. I hope ‘Bob’ is okay. It’s so scary. I understand your passion in regards to mask wearing. And I understand your grief and your fear. God bless.

  39. At the beginning of the year I happened to be researching my ancestors who had died during epidemics. And I recalled the horror my mother had faced in the 1930s when she was diagnosed with Scarlet Fever. Many people remembered what they had been told about the 1870s outbreak here in Australia, when children healthy at breakfast had died by midday. Fortunately it was quite mild for my mother. I grew up with (and know now) some polio survivors, who still suffer after effects. And there is much more.
    Historically prepared, I could see what was coming when Covid first broke out.
    In Australia some of us are suffering life restrictions and mental anguish over loved ones – but with smaller numbers infected.
    America must be suffering so much more. Our hearts are with you.

  40. Thank you for trying to spread truth instead of lies. My sympathies to you on the comments you are going to receive from hateful idiots. And my hopes that your cousin will pull through.

  41. Roberta, it is the bravest thing to write. I have been amazed that my own family continues their family parties, and many have plenty of conspiracy tales. My own keep “not wearing their mask because their parents and grandfather just won’t do it. I hide out mostly in my bedroom,. I take this pandemic seriously, but if your family does not, it’s wearing on me. I have copd. Your article could not explain this crises better. I’m very sorry that your cousin is going through such an ordeal.e

  42. For those following, my cousin died today, exactly a month after he was admitted to ICU for Covid. Our family is heartbroken and crushed. People who refused to wear a mask killed him just the same as if they had driven drunk and hit him. The difference is that because we can’t trace the virus to the responsible party, they never know it and can glibly go about their own lives in denial of the havoc and wake of destruction they are leaving behind.

  43. Oh no. I am so sorry to hear that. What will it take for people to pay attention and start seeing the effects of their own selfish actions?

    You and your family are in our thoughts.

  44. I am very sorry for your loss. It’s a horrible situation. This is a silent and invisible monster. I applaud the healthcare, police, firefighter, grocery clerks and other front line workers. They are doing great work in facing all of this.
    I am seeing the social stigma side of this as well. I have relatives and a next door neighbor who have tested positive. I’ve tested twice and even tested for the anti-bodies but apparently I’ve never had.
    I have couple of situations where I saw how the social stigma and fears of it worked. In one case relationships ended up being damaged but it was only because of a people doing the right thing.

  45. Please keep helping all of us to learn what we can do to help keep friends and family safe from this retched virus. I had a wonderful friend die on August 6 from the virus. His family was held off from even seeing him through a window. He died alone. You are my hero for being courageous about telling it like it is. Loads of love to you my friend.

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