It was bound to happen at some point and of course it was most likely to happen during a spike in coronavirus cases.
<spoiler alert> We aren’t sick (yet?) and, in fact, we don’t even know that we’ve been exposed to people who were infected, much less were infectious, but there’s enough of a possibility that Spouse was and, if so, that he has already passed it along to me, that we’re stuck here at home for a little while so as not to share the wealth with anyone else.
Of course, we/he might already have, since yesterday, before he got the phone call, Spouse spent several hours upstairs with the two fellows he hired to set up his company’s social media presence. They filmed an interview that involved Spouse chatting away with no mask on for 40 minutes. I hope they kept their masks on at least (they were wearing them when the came in, but I don’t know if they were still wearing them when they left). At any rate, that was an awkward phone call Spouse had to make a few hours after they’d left…
Because Spouse got the awkward call that he’d been exposed to someone who might have been exposed to someone who had the virus shortly before we were headed out the door to do the weekly grocery shop, seeing as we’d exhausted our stocks of fresh food. Long story short, one of Spouse’s current solar energy/heat pump/e-auto charging stations projects is at the house of a man and a wife slightly older than we are. He was there on Thursday of last week, working down in their basement for a few hours, and both the man and his wife were down there, too, and nobody was wearing masks (to say that I am livid about this is putting it lightly, for, because of the current local spike in cases, I’d asked Spouse to be extra cautious). Spouse was also there yesterday, after the social media people left, but the man and wife weren’t there this time, because they were busy driving the wife’s 85 year old mother to the hospital.
The elderly woman had already been feeling generally awful (but without a cough or fever) on Monday and the wife had gone over there and spent time with her (meaning that the wife was potentially infectious on Thursday, when Spouse was over there working and nobody was wearing masks). But nobody had thought much of it because the old woman often doesn’t feel well (she’s 85, which, apparently, is enough of an excuse). By yesterday, though (i.e. a week after last week Monday), the old woman was feeling awful enough that Spouse’s customers drove her to the hospital. Even though her only complaint was of severe general malaise, before they admitted the elderly woman, the hospital did a rapid covid test… and got a positive result. Which freaked everybody out, because nobody had seen that one coming.
So now we’re in the strange position of knowing that Spouse was exposed to someone who might have been exposed to someone who tested positive but has no symptoms other than the somewhat worse than normal malaise of a generally unwell old lady.
So, erm, what do you do? Neither the husband nor the wife has any symptoms (not even malaise) and, now more than 24 hours after she was admitted to the hospital, the old woman also has developed no symptoms beyond malaise (raising the possibility of a false positive? Or not?) And because testing is stretched to capacity at the moment because of the ongoing surge in infections, neither the husband nor the wife can get tested unless they start to show symptoms. (The husband’s plan is to claim symptoms later on in the week (unless he actually develops symptoms first), when the virus might have incubated for long enough to be detectable.)
Given the fuzziness of the situation, and that technically Spouse has not been in close contact to someone who has been shown to have the virus, neither Spouse nor I is under any legal obligation to isolate ourselves from the rest of humanity. But, you know, we’re not evil. We don’t want to make anyone sick, send anyone into intensive care, or cause anyone to suffer a life-changing (or life-ending) illness. So, while I won’t say we’re strictly quarantining ourselves (Spouse is still insisting on taking the dog for a walk out here in the countryside where it is possible to walk for an hour without crossing paths with anyone else), grocery shopping is off the table for at least 10 days from last Thursday for Spouse and maybe a couple of days after that for myself. So is taking the packages of Christmas presents for Spouse’s family to the post office. And so is mailing the sweater me and my tennis elbow killed themselves trying to finish knitting in time to mail today (which I obviously did not do) so it would arrive before the 1st birthday of Christian’s young cousin’s first child. All that will have to wait until at least next week sometime.
Although because we spent all of Sunday evening sitting in the same small room watching tv, if Spouse has been infected, he has probably also infected me already, but we are now acting like he’s still possibly a danger to me. I spend today working in my office, cooking, or doing laundry downstairs and he spent the day upstairs in his office doing what work he could on the computer and on the telephone. And we’re wearing masks when not isolated in our respective offices with the doors closed.
Sadly, my taking the precaution of removing my toothbrush from the bathroom only resulted in the dog licking it most enthusiastically (and, urgh, I haven’t got a spare). On the plus side, I have discovered that the guest bedroom doesn’t offer up all the house noises (the neighbor’s heating system is what I think I’m hearing) that keep me up half the night in the master bedroom. On the downside, I also didn’t hear the owls last night, but the upside to that downside is that their sudden screeching in the middle of the night usually rips me from sleep and nearly into cardiac arrest.
Here’s my current thinking about the situation: if the wife was infected by her mother last week Monday and was contagious last Thursday, when Spouse was over there working, and if 95% of the infected people who are going to show symptoms do so by day 6, then if Spouse isn’t sick by the end of tomorrow (which is Wednesday), then it’s unlike he will get sick. Given the potential to remain asymptomatic, though, whether or not he has been infected and, if so, whether he has infected me, though, will still be open questions.
As for me, I’m going to assume that if I was infected by Spouse, that would have happened on Sunday evening when we were sitting in the little tv room (if I die because I stayed an extra two hours to watch The Equalizer 2, I am going to be pissed off) or sometime on Monday (yesterday), because Spouse worked at home for most of that day. That means if I manage to get to Sunday without developing symptoms, I can assume at that point that I am not going to get sick.
In the meantime, we will wait to see how things develop for Spouse’s customers, who are now in quarantine for two weeks because of driving the mother/MIL to the hospital yesterday afternoon.
So, anyway, of course this hit literally moments before we wanted to go grocery shopping. So although we’ve got more than 2 weeks of food here (it’s probably more like a month’s worth), we’re out of the stuff we eat through each week (stuff like milk, fruit, cheese, bread, and fresh fruits and veggies). But out neighbor Monika came to our rescue, dashing out to the grocery store this afternoon to bring us bananas, tomatoes, carrots, apples, bread, cheese, milk, salami, two cucumbers, and one head of broccoli.
And three cheers for Monika. She didn’t just go to the grocery store, she went to the store she knows we normally shop at (which is not her normal haunt). And she bought the exact special local organic rye-spelt bread that I have no idea how she knew was what Spouse eats (I certainly didn’t specify to anywhere near that level of detail). I feel really humbled that someone could care enough to pay that close attention to what we might like on top of their doing us a huge favor! Those supplies, along with several kilos of frozen beef, a couple of bags of frozen veggies, our bagged and frozen kale harvest, the remnants of our potato harvest, a kilo of basmati rice, 500 g of flour, half a bag of dried masa, and more dried beans and lentils than my intestines would care to face over the course of a couple of years, much less one week, should more than get us through to next week Monday, when I think I can send Spouse out to do a round of grocery shopping. Provided neither of us (nor those two particular customers) becomes ill before then (or tests positive for the virus).
Also, after their yearly pause, two of our five hens are getting back to laying eggs, to the tune of about one egg every two days each (they’re 3 1/2 years old now, which is past their prime, and they really have only just finished molting). (The other three hens are in the midst of their molts now.) It’s nice that they’re pitching in like that to provide us with food in our week of need even when they should be on strike because they’re still all cooped up to protect them from the bird flu that is still flying through towards points south.