Self quarantine: Day seven
By Allen Rich
Mar 27, 2020
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There can be several different ways to say the same thing. For instance, when I was down in the pasture burning brush piles this past weekend, my wife was concerned that I was outside in damp, cool weather.

She called to tell me it was too cold for an old geezer to be outside. I told her it was plenty warm next to a pile of blazing bois d'arc limbs.

She called again to say it was starting to rain. I told her, yes, the humidity was getting rather high, but it was a peaceful day down in the woods.

She tried one more time.

"The cornbread is coming out of the oven," she told me.

"I'll be right there," I answered.

That's what I mean about finding the right way to say something.

When I first started this "self quarantine" series, if I had known what I know now, I would have worded it differently.

What I should have said is, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

I'm in my seventh day of self quarantine and I've had a little time to think, at least when I wasn't burning brush piles and devouring cornbread.

What happened in Fannin County was like our own episode of a scary Twilight Zone episode. It suddenly dawns on us that a pandemic that has been slowly marching toward us for a month is here. A number of people have been exposed to a novel coronavirus for which we have no vaccine and no immunity.

Tempers flare; gossip is rampant. Angry people started talking like their favorite actor in some old Western movie instead of sounding like the leading Character in the New Testament. It was a time to show your gun or show your faith in our Creator.

But what happened in Fannin County may very well end up saving lives.

We were asleep at the wheel, folks, all of us. We needed something to wake us up. It wasn't enough that almost every major media source was warning us for weeks. Obviously, that didn't sink in. We needed a jolt of reality. We needed to know that if we pack a commissioners courtroom when we have a highly contagious pandemic racing amongst us, we have just endangered ourselves, our families and everyone we have been in contact with.

That all hit home last Wednesday.

The first reaction is to point fingers.

Almost every one of us traveled at some point during this past year. Any one of us could have suddenly found ourselves struggling to determine the proper course of action in a peculiar situation.

I have had a chance to tell one of the people who caught the most heat that I don't bear any bad will...any one of us could have been in their shoes. I explained that I was shocked, however, when people who could have been exposed to COVID-19 weren't notified immediately. I was hurt when I wasn't given the public information I needed to protect my family. That is what drove the hysteria and anger in Fannin County this week.

When word about the county's first positive test for COVID-19 reached me last Wednesday afternoon, I contacted the county to tell them, we understand HIPPA regulations and no one needs names...just tell me you are contacting everyone who may have been exposed so they can take precautions.

I was in a position to know that wasn't happening because I was one of those people who could have been exposed at a county meeting and no one contacted me.

As a small-business owner who has self quarantined since March 17, it is a little unnerving to realize it has been a week since I have been able to check my post office box or make a deposit at the bank. But that is nothing compared to the single mom with two kids who supported her family by working every hour she could clock in at a restaurant, a restaurant that is basically shut down now.

It is nothing compared to the healthcare workers who are putting themselves in harm's way to protect us. I have always felt that the one person who is most likely to save your life is a nurse. When the Ebola scare hit and hospitals asked for volunteers to form Ebola teams, there were some who stepped forward and said, "I got this." As much as I admire the first responders who put their lives on the line for us, our healthcare workers are no different. In today's world, some of our first responders are also emergency medical services personnel -- those folks are putting it all on the line every day they suit up.

This global emergency will pass. Everyone of us needs to learn from this. When you look at how far behind the curve we were and how badly we performed at every level, there should be so much learning going on that there is no time to play the blame game.

If you want to blame someone, just look in the mirror. We could have all done better.