Day 20: Ironic, Part II

April 14, 2020

At 8 p.m., I published a post about my languid pandemic afternoon, and plopped down on the living room couch to scroll through Facebook.

Thirty minutes later, my husband came in and stood across the room from me. Then he took a step backward.

He’d just gotten a call from work. They’d told him he was at risk for developing the coronavirus, and needed to self-isolate.

It’s a long story, but here is the outline: a patient came into the hospital last week, when my husband was on service, for an illness other than coronavirus. The patient had an emergency on Monday (a week ago yesterday) and received an intervention from my husband as well as other doctors and nurses. Since then, the patient was discharged from the hospital. Days later, he was readmitted with COVID-19, and is now quite ill.

But that’s not why my husband’s colleague called. She called because one of the nurses who also took care of the patient just tested positive.

It’s been eight days since he last had contact with the patient. It seems like an awfully long time to be symptom-free and yet still at risk for getting this disease.

And yet. From now until Sunday, the 14th day since contact, he’s going to wear a mask around the house. Wash his hands whenever he touches anything. Sanitize everything he touches. And he’s sleeping in our daughter’s room. She’s moved in with me.

That’s how this thing is. That’s how this time is. You stop to notice the bloom on the roses, the chirp of the birds in the trees. And then the virus reminds you that’s not the point of spring, 2020.

The point is vigilance. Even when it’s been eight days. Even when you think it’s already made the rounds in your house. Even when you believe he must be immune by now.

Snap on the mask. Wash the hands. Wash them again, and again. Six more days to go.