How Close One Can Come to Ground Zero


A family member’ brush with COVID-19

Those who work alongside our most vulnerable community citizens understand implicitly how devastating COVID-19 can be, but for those outside of the sector, until one is faced with the threat in their own lives, it can still seem somewhat abstract.

A family member connected to one of our Villages* had the virus touch incredibly close to home in June when, in the course of a few days, he realized how close he had come to being part of the potential spread to his father and by proximity, his father’s neighbours in The Village. To be clear, this family member was well aware of the need for caution around the virus; at his business, he and his team always followed the necessary COVID-19 protocols.

But even with that knowledge, risk hit too close to home when he took advantage of the newly-announced short leave-of-absence opportunity from retirement homes. He brought his Dad home on Father’s Day for the afternoon, happy to spend time with him and other family members after months apart. In the course of the day, he recalls, the concept of physical distancing slipped out of mind more than a few times. 

“We were in pretty close quarters,” he admits, “and there were several times when neither of us had masks on.”

Two days later, this gentleman had his first test for COVID-19 and not long afterwards he received news that he was positive. His mind instantly went to his father and he called the Village immediately to share the worrisome news. Public Health officials quickly followed up with additional testing and tracing – including the members of his immediate family and those he works closely with.

His father and the residents throughout The Village, however, were front-of-mind and there were tense days of anxiety to follow.

His father’s test was fast-tracked, for obvious reasons, and thankfully the results were negative. The relief in his voice as this family member recounts hearing that news is stark, for he’s all too aware of the stories of older adults across the country facing grave challenges because of COVID-19. “I was totally on tenterhooks, just waiting to hear,” he says, recalling those few tense days awaiting the test results.

His other family members’ results soon came in and “one-by-one-by-one, all of their results came back negative,” he says, “and that was very reassuring.”

On July 2, this family member had a follow-up test, which came back negative. He never developed a symptom the entire time, which speaks to what health officials have warned about in terms of the potential for someone to carry the virus while entirely asymptomatic. This is why safety precautions are so important, and this particular family member wants to underscore this point. Their family will never take the threat of this virus for granted, for they came so close to ground zero.

“If you look at the big picture, we’re finally getting a good handle on containing the spread,” he says. “I think the worst thing to do would be to ease up and stop, because we know the virus is still out there and how quickly it can spread.”

Frustration can mount, as it has these past months while people wait to see loved ones through such precautions, but this gentleman says the big picture must never fade from sight. His story may have an encouraging end, but many other lives have been filled with sorrow since the start of the pandemic. He truly hopes others might learn from his brush with the COVID-19 experience.

*In order to protect the health records of individuals, we’ve chosen to keep this family and Village anonymous.