Lessons learned from COVID-19

By: James D. Taylor

This COVID-19 pandemic has been something. A year ago, when businesses started to close, we were told to confine ourselves to our homes, and there was a huge surge in demand for toilet paper. We as a country had no idea what to expect. For some of us, it was a flashback to September 12, 2001, the day after 9/11. We had just been attacked by a seemingly “invisible” enemy that we did not anticipate, and we were forced to halt our regular lives and ponder our existence. Like the days and months that followed 9/11, we grew to accept a “new normal” that encompassed no-fly zones and heightened TSA security. Now again faced with a new invisible enemy across the world, we have grappled with the gravest public health crisis since 1918, when the world faced the Spanish flu epidemic.

COVID and connectivity

Last October, my youngest son’s high school football team had a member test positive for COVID, a development that cancelled their season just prior to the state playoffs. Though he was disappointed, my son wanted to get tested to see if he was positive. I scheduled him to get tested with our doctor on a Friday and decided to get myself tested as well. I had developed a slight cough and felt like my normal seasonal allergies were hanging on a bit too long this year. I received a text from our doctor that Saturday evening that went like this: “Hey James. We have your test results. Trevor was negative. You were positive. How are you feeling?”

So now I was officially afflicted with the Great Plague of 2020. Wonderful. My doctor taught me very quickly the guidelines for survival:

  • Monitor your temperature daily and report it to the doctor’s office. Take Tylenol to control a fever.
  • Pay attention to your breathing – be aware of wheezing or shortness of breath. Take Robitussin DM and Mucinex to combat any chest congestion.
  • Take Vitamin C and zinc.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Physically separate yourself from other family members
  • Rest – get the sleep to help you recover.

My youngest son (age 17) was already under quarantine and precluded from attending high school, so we sent him to live with our oldest son (24) across town. The enticement of Google Fiber was a welcoming factor for his virtual classroom interactions—to the point it was hard to get him to come back home.  We gave my older son some money and beef to feed his younger brother so both these large young men were well-fed during that time. I say “beef” because my wife’s family farms and raises cattle in central Nebraska, so our freezer is usually well-stocked thanks to my father-in-law and brother-in-law.

My middle son is a senior-year mechanical engineering major at the University of Missouri. He was impacted by COVID this summer, when his internship with a major engineering firm in Kansas City was cancelled. After returning to campus, one of his friends contracted COVID. My son tested negative but was now enduring the same challenge we had at home of distancing himself from others within the same living quarters. Fortunately, being in Columbia, he has access to adequate Internet to enable him to attend his classes virtually. His only in-person class this semester has been a lab, which is difficult to do virtually.

I vacated our bedroom to keep my COVID to myself in a spare bedroom. My wife tested negative. She stayed in our bedroom, and probably got some of the best sleep of her life during that time without my usual sleep patterns to disturb her.

I was already working from home, so work was not going to be a great challenge. I had hip replacement surgery in early October, tested negative for COVID at that time, and had already been home recovering from surgery. I was going to physical therapy three times a week and was enjoying pain-free freedom with the new hip. That was now over, and I was confined to the house. My apologies to the staff at Summit Rehab, who were subsequently quarantined by virtue of reporting my misfortune to them.

My excursions back to the office for “real” Internet were over as well. Our home is in a rural subdivision between Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs, MO, served with the wonderful 6 Mb DSL service that so many Americans are familiar with. When you work


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