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A personal note: a close friend, stricken by COVID-19, is at death’s door


photo by Jakub Orisek courtesy of

A close friend of the family is in the hospital with COVID-19.  I was depressed by the news as I knew he was at very high risk due to multiple medical conditions.  He was working for farm labor contractors, transporting injured workers to medical offices and translating for them.  He has been a close friend of our family for thirty years.

He was admitted to the hospital last week and started on remdesivir.  He has gone downhill over the last few days and had more than one stroke.  He is now on a ventilator.  I fear that he will not survive.  If he does live through this, he will never be the same.  His wife is completely wiped out by this turn of events.  She had symptoms of the virus– cough and fever– but recovered quickly.  This is the way it usually happens: women are not as severely affected as men.

Our worst problem in this difficult situation is that we are unable to go to his bedside or even to communicate with his doctors.  We don’t know if there is an advance directive in place as to his treatment, and we have no way to find out.  Our lack of contact with him and his medical team has left us without any way to influence his care or to have any personal interaction with him.

It is one thing to learn about the challenges faced by other people– people I don’t know– when confronted by illness with COVID-19.  It is quite another, intensely frustrating and painful, to have personal contact with friends and relatives who have the illness.  The only thing that could be worse is to be personally sick with the virus and to be struggling to breathe, with coughing and chest pain.  So far, I have been extremely fortunate not to have this experience.  I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

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