Last week was supposed to be one of the most memorable in this newspaper’s 150-plus year history. It was to begin Nov. 3, Election Day, where the Wilton Community Center was full of voters lined up all day to take part in the Democratic process.
A stone’s throw away, perhaps the best volleyball team Wilton’s ever had was leaving to begin its quest through the state tournament. The Beavers were ranked No. 2 in the state and received the No. 2 seed at the tournament — the highest in school history.
While the country was taking part in what was being dubbed the most important election in history, the Beavers began their state run with a dominant performance in the Class 2A quarterfinals with a sweep of Van Meter, making the semifinals for just the second time in school history.
Because all this was happening on a Tuesday, I unfortunately had to watch from my office while trying to get our weekly newspaper to press.
The next day, Nov. 4, was my day to get back out on the Beaver trail and cover Wilton in just its second ever state semifinal match. I was there and covered our Beavers as they fell in the state semifinals to eventual state champion Dike-New Hartford.
I wore a mask. I socially distanced. Yet while I was there, my throat started to hurt. Less than 24 hours after Wilton’s volleyball season came to an end, I was in a doctor’s office being tested for COVID-19. One day later, I received a positive test result. Immediately, an already monumental week quickly became one I’ll never forget.
I got the news no one wants to get Friday afternoon, Nov. 6, at around 5 p.m. I spent the next couple hours making phone call after phone call to those closest to me. First, telling them the news, and second, urging them to monitor their health.
I spent the rest of that evening wondering how it could be. I can’t trace myself to anyone who knowingly had COVID-19. And I never thought I had it. Sinus issues perhaps? Strep throat maybe?
Before I take you through my timeline to this point with this virus, I’ll mention that just two hours after my diagnosis, I wrote a quick piece for our website, wdadvocatenews.com, to communicate with our readers and community. It’s being reprinted on page 1 this week. In the ensuing days, more dominoes fell, as our ad manager Carissa Hoekstra, and ad designer Brandy Marquez, also tested positive. Like countless businesses in these towns, COVID-19 found its way in.
I’ve been more immersed in this virus than most, as I’ve written about it countless times. I’ve gone on record with my fears. I’ve called on our communities and schools to take it seriously and, in fact, often I'm the one publicly urging to increase safety protocols. I’ve followed rules to the best of my abilities. But I kept doing my job. If not for being a man about town as a newspaper editor, I can assure you I wouldn’t be around as many people as I’ve been. I don’t blame anyone for this, and I have no idea where I picked it up. As I said, I can’t trace myself back to anyone who knowingly had it or was showing symptoms.
Rather, I count myself fortunate to thus far not have had it as bad as many. I may now be a COVID statistic, but I am not a COVID casualty.
My timeline is as follows:
On Monday, Nov. 2, I woke up with a bit of a backache — not uncommon for me. However, it felt like the kind of day you have after you play a sport or use muscles you’re not used to using for the first time in awhile. On Election Day, my body felt better, but I was starting to sniffle a bit. I blew my nose a handful of times that day, but really didn’t think anything of it. By Wednesday night, Nov. 4, I got extremely congested and had a bad sore throat.
Upon getting back from the state volleyball tournament that evening, I had the chills for a short time, but felt better after getting under a blanket. I had some dinner late that night and it tasted funny. I thought it was likely due to the congestion, but the sore throat worsened, causing me to call the Wilton UnityPoint clinic Thursday morning, Nov. 5. That afternoon, Jay Thornburg tested me at the clinic. I even tried to talk him out of it, feeling like I perhaps either had a sinus infection or strep throat.
He said surprisingly enough, he had COVID patients with worse sore throats than strep patients. He then looked at my throat and said it looked fine. Strange! It’s one of the worst sore throats I’ve had; yet my glands were never swollen.
By Friday afternoon, Nov. 6, I tested positive. I’ll admit, my heart sank a bit. The two hardest parts with this, for me, was first beginning to fear for those around me — especially my parents. My fingers have been crossed each day since that they, along with others I may have been around, won’t get it.
The other immediate worry I had was, would this take a turn for the worse? Thankfully, my vitals have been stable. I’ve never had a fever, my oxygen levels remained steady, and my body has continued to feel relatively good.
By Saturday, Nov. 7, I lost my taste. I’ve kept my smell, but it’s very faint. The not being able to taste is quite bizarre. And late that night, I did throw up. It was the only time I’ve done so. As I write this, that’s the best details I can give. You just continually wonder, “What’s next?” There's no road map for this virus. It's new to all our systems, and will affect us any way it wants.
Back to your hometown newspaper: This was the first time in history we seriously considered not printing an issue. Yet we banded together and got it to press. I am forever thankful for the team we have, and to our owners, publishers Bill and Linda Tubbs, for checking in on us along the way.
Our office will remain closed to the public for the time being. We thank you for your patience and understanding.
It was quite a range of emotions last week. We were elated to see our Beavers make the state semifinals, then heartbroken they couldn’t make it further. Yet they all return next season so we are very hopeful.
It took a few days, but Joe Biden was named president-elect of the United States. It won’t come without recounts, and probably no concession, but a historic week regardless.
There’s been a lot of ignorant things said and believed in recent years, especially during this election cycle. My favorite was that the day after Election Day, COVID-19 would just go away. Not sure how much more proof you need, but this is real. It is scary. Numbers in our state, and here at home, are getting out of control. In fact, we heard as we went to press that both Muscatine and West Liberty school districts are shutting down for two weeks due to the county threshold being above 20 percent.
Will Wilton be next?
Please be well and continue to follow protocols. I look forward to seeing you all again soon, and will continue to provide updates.