Preparing for the virus

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judi turpen

I have had some queries online about the corona virus, but last week I received my first telephone call about it.

It came from a case manager in my physician’s office, and she wanted to do a routine screening with me.

It was fairly simple: Did I have a cough, fever, trouble breathing? I said no to the cough and no to the fever (although I really don’t know because I don’t have a thermometer in the house that I can read) and yes to the trouble breathing; however, that was no more than normal for me as I have COPD. She asked if anything had been abnormal for me.

I told her no then asked for permission to ask her a question.

“If I do come down with the virus or symptoms, can I be whisked away to Australia to be in quarantine with Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson?” I asked. Not that I want to be alone with the couple, except that is precisely what I would like — can you imagine having two weeks with this fabulous iconic couple to interview!

In all seriousness, though, it makes me think twice when I see someone of that stature touched by something that everyone is being cautioned about.

In addition to telephone calls, I also am signed up to receive multiple alerts from the state, county and national legislative types.

On Monday last week, I received the first alert from the Indiana Department of Correction notifying the cancellation of all face-to-face visits at seven facilities. The reason given was that the facilities were located near urban areas or there had been someone from the public sector identified with what has now been dubbed COVID-19 rather than corona virus.

The following day another facility had been added to the list and by Wednesday, it was all IDOC facilities. Some visits could still take place if people called ahead and scheduled a 20-minute visit via closed-circuit television.

I also heard about another couple, who may not be the celebrity type, but they certainly are celebrity to me. Tom and Jean Gaunt of Indianapolis waited until their 50th wedding anniversary to plan a cruise. They booked it to begin soon after Tom retired.

They have given so much of themselves over the years to foster care, adoptions and programs to help others considering the same. They also have been tireless advocates for children’s mental health programs. They certainly are special, and I thought if anyone deserved a world cruise, the Gaunts certainly did.

Soon after they left our shores, we heard the first report of this new virus. At first, it sounded funny. Corona virus? Who comes up with names like this? And does that mean that a six pack of a certain beverage might be an antidote?

It didn’t take long to get the idea that this was something serious as we heard about the speed with which it overtook China. By February, we were hearing of widespread impact, and I thought of my dear friends on their anniversary cruise. I wondered if they were aboard a ship that was grounded off one coast and then another as they were denied permission to disembark.

I listened anxiously each day as reporters were able to contact some Americans upon the first cruise ship. . . and then the second.

I never thought to ask for details about their itinerary because I figured I would hear all about their trip when they got back. I didn’t even know what cruise line they were sailing on.

One day recently, I received a return call from one of their daughters. She said they hadn’t said anything about being on board where the virus was discovered but they were rerouted several times. The first was around China and then pretty much all of Asia and more recently around most of Europe.

At this time, their scheduled return is about May 13. That is a little bit sooner than Jean told me they expected to return when they left on the six-month journey. They left Jan. 1.

I talked to another long-time friend who has lived in Italy the past few years. Marilyn said on Monday last week that a town about 10 miles away from their home was on quarantine, but they weren’t. Mostly people were being cautioned about going anywhere involving large crowds of people.

By Tuesday, she reported the Carnevale had been canceled. (It’s much like the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, she explained.) Later that day, schools had been shut down and there were policemen driving through the streets announcing strict quarantine for everyone.

On Wednesday, I was watching the MSNBC and saw that churches in Italy and then in other European cities were canceling services.

Also on Wednesday we were hearing from the President that he was canceling all incoming flights from many countries except the United Kingdom. Friday, he was rethinking the exception after a member of Britain’s Parliament had tested positive.

After much prodding from the media about whether he had been tested after he came in close contact and shook hands with a Brazilian official who did test positive, President Trump said he would think about it but at this time he was symptom free.

Well, I can tell you that I, too, am symptom free, according to the case manager who made my call. But I intend to do as she cautioned.

If I should meet you out and about, please don’t extend your hand. But I will be more than happy to bump your elbow. I will try to keep my hands away from my face, but that is next to impossible. And last, but not least, please guarantee my personal space while I stand at the sink to wash my hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds!