ST. GEORGE — Although there has not yet been any diagnosis of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Washington County, that doesn’t mean the outbreak hasn’t had its effects locally.
Based on several telephone interviews with the St. George News via a social media outreach, people are concerned and compassionate but resolute in their determination to endure. Still, people are scared.
“I’m a working mom with a six-year-old son who is not going to school,” Karen Albright said. “We planned for the spring break, but what am I supposed to do after that. I have to go to work? I can’t take time off. We just get by as it is so how am I going to stay at home to watch after my son?”
With remote learning in the works for Washington County school children after spring break, Albright questions what it will look like and how will it work. Kids learning at home, she said, is a lot different than kids learning at school.
“As a parent, you know what I mean,” she added.
Albright’s emotions are raw and her fear palpable.
She isn’t alone.
Aggie Smith, 68, a diabetic and going through cancer treatment, is concerned she is in the target group for contracting COVID-19.
“I have been limiting anywhere I go,” Smith said. “I had to go for cancer treatment Tuesday and I can’t say enough. All the nurses who administer my treatments were there. The waiting room was full, but as soon as you go in you wash your hands and watching everything you touch.”
With a compromised immune system, Smith added, you worry.
“For people who have an ongoing issue, this is a big deal,” Smith said. “I get frustrated with younger people who blow it off and believe it is a hoax. When you think about it, they can be the ones who are exposing everyone else who is in jeopardy of serious illness.”
It is perspective.
As a trained EMT, Smith understands better than most how deadly cross-contamination can become to someone’s life.
“Anywhere you go you have to touch something, you have to touch railings,” she said about returning to the states after a visit to Scotland before the virus outbreak began showing up nationally.
“This was days before we acknowledged it was a problem in this country, but it was already a problem in the U.K.,” Smith said. “Getting on a plane for 20 hours was my cup of tea. People were saying just wash your hands and you will be fine. That’s impossible to keep yourself protected when you are in an airport.”
Unless you had protective gloves and didn’t touch your face, it may not be possible to be protected, Smith added.
Although the nation finds itself between a rock and a hard place, Smith said, this too will pass.
“This is not a hoax. This is real life and especially for people who are the most vulnerable,” she said. “The biggest fear is we just don’t know how this will end.”
Frustration seems to be spreading throughout Southern Utah.
“Recently a friend told me that word around town is I have an Uzi and plenty of food and that I need to be careful,” Kimry Bassett said.
“The fact is, I have many accounts in collections, I have a vehicle broken that I can’t afford to fix, and have enough food for me to last maybe (four) weeks. I am selling everything I can think of to pay bills and to put gas in my truck so that I can continue to look for lost dogs. For all those that think I am sitting pretty think again. I have just been raised right and help when I can. It is so sad what this virus has brought out in people.”
Despite the despair, rolling with the punches is one young St. George entrepreneur’s motto.
On a sidewalk, in a rainy neighborhood near the Red Cliffs Mall Wednesday, 10-year-old Julie and her much younger brother were selling lemonade.
The sign on the table read, “Help virus victims.”
Although not exactly grasping the gravity of the COVID-19 outbreak, Julie wanted to do her part to help others with the proceeds of the lemonade sales donated to local charities.
Turning to her mom for guidance on how to answer a reporter’s question, Julie said: “If we don’t help each other, who is going to help?”
Editor’s Note: After this article was posted, the first positive test of the COVID-19 virus was announced in Southern Utah. For more, go here.
COVID-19 information resources
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- World Health Organization
- Utah Department of Health
- Intermountain Healthcare
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