The following was written by Middletown-resident Suzanne McDonald. McDonald is a former Boston Globe journalist and is the founder of Newport Interactive Marketing networking-learning community. 

According to the world’s majority of infectious disease experts, you may be in my socks in the next weeks or even months. 

You may have been out in Newport for a friend’s birthday, like I was on 2/29. Your friend, or you at this point, may start feeling ill. You may get tested for COVID-19. 

I’m writing to you from day 6 of DOH-mandated quarantine. I’m still waiting for test results. 

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I care most about my 79-year-old mother, whom I was helping to prepare when I was notified my friend’s test was positive. His best guess is he was exposed out-of-state on 2/22. For two weeks he was asymptotic. 

As you know, at age 79, my mom is at risk. At least two other family members I came into close contact with fall into 2 risk groups. 

This may be you, especially if you are still not staying home with your family and only leaving your property in case of emergency. Perhaps you saw my Facebook posts from the weekend?

While I am not required to notify anyone of my status — and my daughter and husband are cleared to be at work/school as long as they are not showing symptoms — I notified everyone I could think of. I posted my awaiting-testing status on Saturday. Currently I am awaiting results. 

While the response to my efforts have not all been positive, 99% of them have been. People I didn’t remember hugging — in particular an elderly person with an ill loved one — were then made aware. And now they can prepare by being as healthy as possible. Everyone can know Corona virus came to Newport in February as best we can trace. 

We are facing unfavorable choices

Many unfortunately have no choice, no safety net. But for those who can choose: skip the  carefree browsing shopping, work from home, tell employees we will make sure financially everything will be all right. Close your walk-in business as many have already. Your employees may be young and fit. But what about a condition you are not aware of at home? A child with asthma for example?

Pause the politics 

The government, no matter what your politics, can only move so fast. I commend Governor Gina Raimondo and her team in particular for the tremendous leadership she is bringing to the state in making the best decisions our state leaders can. 

YOU have the power and influence that can make a LIVES-saving difference 

But what about private citizens? We can be leaders in our lives and have lives-saving impact in our community and state. How?

Don’t make my mistakes 

After 5 days in isolation, I feel I have made every mistake you can make. I know I didn’t know it at the time. My mom, stylist, yoga instructor, friends, colleagues and clients, friends’ children with asthma and poor respiratory systems, dentist office, primary care office, other medical professionals. It’s truly eye-opening when you consider every person and place you’ve engaged with. 

But now I know, and hopefully you know, too. But let’s say you know someone who doesn’t know or hasn’t accepted this new reality yet? Share this with them. Post to social media. 

Humans are social beings

Most of us look for validation. Play dates ok? Few friends for dinner? As I was calling friends on Saturday to let them know my status, they were socializing like a snow day. Sorry, no, we are staying home and staying healthy and you should, too. 

Going out affirms denial and endangers people’s lives #FlattenTheCurve. 

Now we know better. But why?

We need to buy time

For your neighbor who’s a cancer survivor — and a nurse at Newport Hospital. For your colleague who is still in chemo. For your friend from high school who’s an ER nurse working knowing she’ll likely infect her daughter who is immunocompromised. For your cousin, friend who’s just come back from maternity leave, friend’s fiancé, in-laws — these are just a sampling of all the health care professionals I know who work in hospitals. 

Give yourself 5 days in isolation, and you’ll have a good idea, too. We need to save our first responders and health care professionals. 

What to do now

Stay home with your loved ones and no one else. Spend this time doing the little things you’ll cherish when this is all over. Make the memories. Why? Because I cannot. No hugs for mom. I can watch my daughter ride her bike out the window. I can hear her through the floorboards and see her on FaceTime. I can’t hug my husband and tell him he’s doing an amazing job Homeschooling and cooking — not going to focus on housekeeping. 

Call for help in case of a true emergency 

We live a highly stressful time people alive now have never experienced before. Please follow the protocol to contact your primary care if you are ill. Or the RIDOH COVID-19 Info Line

401-222-8022

(Mon-Fri 8:30am-4:30pm) or

RIDOH.COVID19Questions

After hours: Call 211

And leave the hospitals’ staff to treat true emergencies. Also do not bring anyone with you should you go to the hospital. 

Help one another as best you can

Check in on loved ones. Make sure they have what they need. Just connect. Everyone is isolated to some extent. Maybe not to this extent … yet? 

There is an update to this story here – Guest View – Suzanne McDonald: COVID-19 results: Keep up the fight

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