And he tried so hard not to get it. As much and as often as possible, he came to work, went into his office in the warehouse, and stayed there. He wore a face mask everywhere. He washed his hands.
It didn’t matter.
So, I was genuinely surprised when Ann called me last Saturday, loud and angry.
“Why didn’t you tell me John had COVID?”
I was more than surprised. COVID-19? When? How? From where? From campus, most likely, but…
“I didn’t know he had COVID. Who told you?”
“John did. He just texted me and said that he had just tested positive.”
She hung up less than four minutes later and I hadn’t learned anything more, so I came to work on Monday expecting a rush of information from everyone there, up to and including Julie, who is basically the assistant to the head of our department. But, she basically played stupid when I called her, telling me that John had called in sick on Monday, and that he had been sick on Friday, and she didn’t know when he would be back, etc. I guess figured that if John hadn’t told me, he must have his reasons, so she would just keep the truth to herself.
And of course, there is Missouri law (maybe the law across the country) which states you aren’t allowed to disclose a coworker’s medical information. I just realized that may have been why she was so vague with me.
But I didn’t hear anything concrete until this Friday, when Dave came to the warehouse and said John should just stay home until he was sure the virus was gone, as there was no reason for him to come to work and risk infecting someone else. That was the first time someone acknowledged his positive status to me. A real surprise: the first time an employee caught eh virus – a security guard – it was all anyone could talk about. A safety meeting the week after was derailed by people complaining about having been in the same gymnasium with him.
Not being told officially is a problem for me. I have to go into the warehouse. I have to enter John’s office and get batteries and disinfectant for our spray guns and check for packages. And no one has told me he has COVID? has his office been disinfected?
I don’t know if the higher-ups in my chain of command are being careful or careless, keeping me out of the loop…
I don’t want to get COVID-19.
John sounded horrible when I talked to him on the phone on Wednesday, throaty and pitiful, like he had just escaped Death’s grip, or like he had been crying for a long time.