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Lessons learned while quarantining

How quickly things can change.

I’ve considered myself lucky during the COVID-19 pandemic. Myself, my family, and close friends have remained healthy thus far during this strange time, and while I do casually know a couple of people that have contracted the virus, they’ve had relatively mild symptoms and have recovered.

However, I thought that might have changed over the last couple weeks. A little more than a week ago, I attended a small family gathering. Like many of you, it’s been difficult not being around extended family that we’re normally used to spending time with.

What none of us realized at the time was that a coworker of two of my family members tested positive for COVID-19 and my two family members had direct contact with this individual at work.

Due to that, I decided to go get tested out of an abundance of caution. During this pandemic, I haven’t necessarily been overly concerned with catching the virus in regard to how it could affect me. I’m 25 years old and generally healthy with no underlying health issues that I am aware of, and the chances that my symptoms would be mild and I would recover well are pretty high.

However, I was (and still am) concerned about spreading this virus to those who couldn’t handle it as well as myself. The thought of unknowingly spreading this virus to an elderly individual, someone with a compromised immune system or someone with an underlying health condition was (and still is) pretty frightening.

I’m beyond grateful that the COVID-19 test wasn’t nearly as invasive as the videos I had found online. The doctor that performed the test said the medical community has made some significant strides so many of the tests are now very similar to the flu test. It was a little irritating and uncomfortable, but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

Due to my potential exposure, I was advised to self-quarantine for eight days. Although my test results came back in three days, it was recommended to allow some extra time to make sure I didn’t begin showing symptoms.

That meant no going to the grocery store, no going through drive-thru restaurants or picking up takeout meals, and no going into the office to work. I was supposed to just stay at home and limit my contact with others.

I survived quarantine, although it did get quite boring at times, but this incident really showed how quickly things can change with this pandemic we are still going through. I know it sometimes seems like COVID-19 is a thing of the past as the economy reopens and summer weather becomes the norm, but this virus is still out there, and we need to take as many precautions as we can.

Faced with the reality that myself and several of my family members could have easily contracted COVID-19, along with all of our own individual contacts, it’s clear how easily this virus can spread and how quickly a small outbreak can occur just among family and friends.

Do I believe we should all just shelter in our homes and wait for the virus to die off? No, of course not. Life has to go on, and for many of us, especially those of us with mental health issues, isolation is the enemy.

I do believe that we still need to realize we are in the midst of a global pandemic that is still out there and just be cautious. Keep your distance, wash your hands, and wear a mask if you’re going to be in close confines with a large group of people.

Right now, with everything going on in this world, it’s more important than ever to love your neighbor. Taking precautions for their health seems like one easy way to do just that.

Zac Oakes is a reporter for The Interior Journal and The Advocate-Messenger. He can be reached at zac.oakes@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or by phone at 859-236-2551.