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Keyes addresses public after daughter's positive COVID-19 test

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tom N. Keyes
Gaines County Judge
March 24, 2020

Sometimes things happen that one would prefer to keep private.  However, when a person is in a public position it is not always possible to keep personal information private.  This is one of those situations.  By now many of you have heard that Gaines County has an individual with a positive result on the Covid-19 test.  That individual is my adult daughter who lives with me and my wife.  As far as we can tell she was exposed at an event in Lubbock where young men and women had returned from mission work all over the world.  That event was in the evening of Saturday, March 14th.  On Sunday, March 15th she went to church and then participated in a small group discussion.  She went to her job at Walmart on March 16th and 17th.  Up to this point there were no symptoms, except she developed a cough in the evening of the 17th.  This was not thought of as out of the ordinary, she frequently develops bronchitis with the onset of pollen season.  However, the 17th would be the minimal incubation period for the onset of Covid-19 (3-15 days for incubation). On Wednesday, the 18th my daughter was scheduled off.  Her cough deepened, and she developed a fever that met the criteria that the health department has published.  She stayed home from work on Thursday and Friday, the 19th and 20th.  After 5pm on the 20th she received notice that one of the young people at the event in Lubbock had tested positive, she was in the room with them, but did not remember a direct contact.  Consequently, I contacted the Health Department for guidance.  On their advice, Saturday morning, March 21st, my daughter, my wife and I went to Lubbock to be tested for the Covid-19 virus at the UMC Coronavirus Clinic.  UMC decided to test my daughter because she had had symptoms and exposure, my wife and I were not tested.  We were told we would only be tested if my daughter was positive and if we developed symptoms.  UMC first tested her for Strep and regular Flu.  Both those tests came back negative, so she was tested for the Covid-19.  We were told the results would be back in 24-48 hours.  My daughter was told she was in strict quarantine at least until the results came back.  The doctor suggested that my wife and I should self-quarantine until the results came back.   On Sunday evening, March 22, we received a call from the Health Department.  My daughter’s results were positive.  She would remain on quarantine until 3 days after her symptoms were resolved.  My wife and I were placed on a strict quarantine until 14 days after my daughter’s symptoms resolved.  That’s where we are today.  We are all feeling fine at this time.  

I’ve seen postings on social media that implied that my daughter and I were somehow irresponsible for going to work this past week.  My daughter has not been out in public since her symptoms first appeared.  I have not been in my office since I knew of my daughter’s exposure.  Anyone who thinks we’ve acted irresponsibly should take it up with the health department.  We’ve followed their guidance from the moment we realized there had been an exposure.  The South Plains Public Health Department is a good source of information.

 The reality is that in an epidemic, such as the Covid-19, when young people can be infected, contagious, and not be aware of any symptoms, exposures can occur in unexpected ways.  That’s why it is important to keep our distance from others, to frequently wash our hands, and to keep our hands away from our face.  The Covid-19 virus is passed through droplet transmission.  This coronavirus is heavier than air; it does not float in the air like the measles virus or TB.  Because it won’t float that eliminates the risk of walking into an unseen cloud of virus. However, it has to somehow get into your nose, eyes, or mouth to infect you. Usually that happens when a person touches a droplet which carries the virus, and then touches their face.  Occasionally, an individual may catch a cough or sneeze directly in the face.  When an infected person coughs, or sneezes, they send out a spray that immediately starts to fall to the nearest flat surface, or it sticks to a nearby vertical surface.   These are the reasons the CDC is recommending frequent handwashing, social distancing (especially if you are not feeling well), sneezing/coughing into our elbows, and throwing our used tissues in the trash (not leave them lying around).  Are these fool proof methods to stop the spread of Covid-19, maybe not; what I see is that the fools normally don’t follow the rules.  However, research shows these procedures to be very helpful in slowing the spread of droplet transmitted viruses and bacteria.  If, as a community, we practice these health rules with diligence we can flatten the curve of infection here, throughout Gaines County.