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                Life with the Danger of COVID-19
By Barbara Pearce Manor House
It seemed like our lives changed overnight. We went from a carefree attitude, planning our next day full of activities, and getting to know our new neighbors to fear of serious, possibly fatal illness. My husband Jim has COPD, so he faced even greater danger if he contracted COVID-19.
When I managed the Caritas House assisted living community, I spent many hours in pandemic planning meetings for the SARS virus outbreak in 2003. Fortunately, it didn’t reach pandemic levels. However, I am well aware of the extreme dangers of a pandemic and understand infection control issues, especially as they affect a community of older adults.
This distressing pandemic involved a virus so new that the medical experts disagreed on some of the treatment and prevention measures. Some government officials played down the danger, which allowed the virus to get a head start. By the time they acknowledged the problem, thousands of cases were spreading throughout the country.
Suddenly hospitals in some areas were overwhelmed with sick and dying COVID patients. It became obvious that there weren’t enough ICU beds or PPE (personal protective equipment) for medical professionals. Many medical professionals were infected and some died. We saw pictures on TV of refrigerated trucks parked at hospitals to hold all the dead who couldn’t be taken to the overloaded funeral homes. In less than six months, more than 120,000 people died from COVID-19.
We saw nightly press conferences from the White House detailing and sometimes playing down the pandemic. Each state was also reporting the cases in their counties and their efforts to contain the virus. We live in Sussex County, DE, which was very hard hit. There are many chicken farms and chicken processing operations in the area, and they had serious COVID-19 spread.

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