My COVID diary

The author, a news photographer and cameraman, shoveling snow before he was vaccinated.

By Boyet Loverita

It was the afternoon of March 11, 2020. I was doing food shopping at our neighborhood grocery store after we attended an event at the Philippine Consulate in Midtown. My phone rang, and it’s my wife Lindy. She sounded frantic and told me to go back home ASAP. I left the grocery cart half full in the middle of the aisle and rushed home.

When I got home she was on the phone talking to someone. I was all ears because I was puzzled on what’s really happening. For the first time, I heard the word “Coronavirus” in her conversation. After she hung up, she told me we have to isolate ourselves without explaining why.  I waited. Later, she finally she told me: Someone in the Philippine Consulate tested positive for the Coronavirus.  We were just there few hours ago.

This happened around the time the virus had started raging in NYC.  

The next day, the consulate published an Urgent Advisory confirming that one individual from the building tested positive for the virus. That was the first time I felt the pandemic close to home. I began to worry.

In the first few days of the pandemic, my wife did not know the hospital where she works would be the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.  I would take her to the hospital and pick her up. She avoided driving because parking in the city is expensive and also a nightmare. Also, she avoided taking mass transit.

Coincidentally on March 20, with 5,683 confirmed cases in NYC, the Governor’s Office issued the Pause order that would go into effect on March 22 at 8 p.m. Voila!  Traffic gridlock in NYC was gone. The drive from our home in the Bronx to the hospital in Queens took only 30 minutes from the usual hour’s drive. It’s funny because with few cars on the road you will see all the potholes in your route, and take note of the synchronized traffic lights.

He gets his first shot. ‘I called on God every day that I would get an appointment.’

We looked forward to the daily briefings from NYS Gov. Cuomo and NYC Mayor de Blasio for updates. It’s like our daily Angelus prayer. It’s still scary even though things appeared to be improving.  Every time I felt some physical abnormality, my mind seemed to be telling me that I may have the virus. How many nights has it happened to me that I couldn’t sleep because I had a sore throat, some coughing or sneezing. The fact that my wife is in and out of the hospital crawling with COVID patients added to my fear that I may be a hypochondriac.

For several months, my wife and I slept in separate bedrooms as we practiced “cross contamination precaution.”

We continued to wash hands often, wear masks even inside our home, wash all the clothes immediately on arriving home, sanitize our grocery bags, packages, and mails. We were doing all this not only to protect ourselves but also other people around us.

Shopping for PPE

It would take half a day to do food shopping because of the long lines and a limit to the number of customers allowed in stores. I was jumping from store to store — big and small — to fill up our fridge and freezer with food and to find the essentials to protect ourselves.  Hand sanitizers were really hard to find. I had to make sure they had the right mix of over 60% alcohol and aloe vera lotion, per my wife’s mandate.  The search for gloves, anti-bacterial/viral wipes, bleach, paper towel, toilet paper became my daily chore.  It’s like winning the lottery when I found them.

The vaccination site in the Bronx.

Luckily my brother Evan from Alberta, Canada sent me a gallon of hand sanitizer with 99% alcohol. I was like shouting and grateful to my “brother in arms” for sending me a LIFE.  That’s what’s important for us during the pandemic. I had best friends, friends, acquaintances, and people I know who were always willing to help, even if some of them had lost relatives from COVID.

I’m always calling on God every day to be free from the virus, knowing that I belong to the vulnerable population. I have an asthma condition, and I am a little on the heavy side.  OK, maybe not a little. Being seriously sick was not an option because no ambulance would pick you up to take you to the emergency room. You’re not a priority.

Now that the situation in NYC is much better, essential goods are pouring into the city. There are test hubs everywhere, and there are available vaccines.

Finally, vaccine arrived in New York.  I am always praying to get it. It’s not easy to find one, or to get an appointment to get a shot. Fortunately, after a few more days of looking, I received an email from the Office of NYS Governor regarding the opening of a vaccine hub in the Yankee Stadium for qualified Bronx, NY residents. When I checked out the website, I found a spot for the next Saturday.  Three weeks after my first jab, I got my second dose.

After more than a year of COVID-19, some questions are playing in my mind: How safe am I right now from the virus? When will I be free from wearing face masks/covering that aggravate my asthma condition?   Is America close to what experts call “herd immunity”? When will we go back to taking mass transit? How about social gatherings? Can the vaccine bring back our normal life? 

Right now, I’m dealing with a sore arm, feeling tired and having chills. My wife said it is a possible reaction of my second Pfizer vaccine.  It is said the second dose usually causes some adverse reaction. I am a bit confused.  During my vaccination, that’s the time we had a snowstorm in NYC.  I was shoveling snow for three straight days.  I can’t figure out now if the pain on my arm came from the shoveling or from the vaccine.

Forever Business Owner: Nieva
Quezon Burdick

© The FilAm 2021

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