by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
An EMS (emergency medical services) first responder who lives in Onaway and works in Otsego County has tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“I’m scared,” said city resident Glenda Bowman, the first person in Presque Isle County to officially contract the disease.
With many well-wishes from the community she has lived in all her life, Glenda and her husband Bill, are battling the disease in self-quarantine at their residence. “Nobody comes in and nobody goes out,” she said.
Glenda is certain her husband has the virus, but will not be tested unless he goes to the hospital. They had a remote appointment with a clinic Tuesday morning in the hope of getting medication in their fight against it.
“He’s got it. There is no doubt in my mind,” said Glenda.
Her symptoms Tuesday included a low-grade fever and shortness of breath “at times.” Her husband is about the same, she said, although his oxygen levels are lower.
Glenda, who has worked for Otsego County EMS on and off for 20 years, has been a first responder for 22 years. Additionally, she has trained people in the community seeking certification.
While on the job, “we have all the protective gear. I don’t have a clue how we came in contact with it. I have no idea,” said Glenda from her home Tuesday morning. “I had just got done working a 24-hour shift Thursday (April 2). I was supposed to work again on Friday. I got up and I did not feel good. We had been doing our temperature at work.”
She had a fever of about 100-degrees Fahrenheit and told her supervisor, who called the health department and was subsequently tested. The results came back Monday morning.
“Someone wake me up from this nightmare!” was posted on her Facebook page early Tuesday along with loving thoughts and prayers for the couple’s speedy recovery.
“The support from Onaway has been awesome,” said Glenda.
Otsego County was one of the first counties to test positive in the region and has been a hot spot in northern Michigan.
“We had been taking a lot of suspected COVID patients down to Grayling because that’s part of our job,” she continued. “(The disease) is having a big impact on health care workers worldwide. There are going to be a lot of health care workers that are going to get sick. Detroit has more than 700 that have tested positive on the frontlines.
“I know a couple of people who are still waiting on results. It is really frustrating for us frontline people not to know what is going on with our own bodies. I think we should be tested immediately and I think people should not be able to go home. This was one of my biggest fears, bringing this home, and that’s what happened.”
District Health Department No. 4 (DHD4) has been working with Glenda Bowman to identify and contact anyone potentially exposed and will monitor them for symptoms. DHD4 Medical Director, Dr. Josh Meyerson said, “We are hoping that this individual has a complete recovery. We also are beginning to see evidence of community spread and therefore, community mitigation and prevention strategies are even more imperative.”
DHD4 encouraged everyone to continue to take these preventative measures: cleaning your hands often; scrubbing with soap for at least 20 seconds; using hand sanitizer if you cannot wash; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; staying home when you are sick, except to get medical care; call ahead before going to your health care provider; covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash; immediately wash your hands; cleaning and disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces; and following the governor’s orders and recommendations to limit gatherings.
“Just follow the guidelines,” said Glenda. “I don’t want anyone going through this nightmare. The community has been so supportive and so many prayers for myself and Bill.”
In an update from Carmeuse Lime & Stone, all tests have come back negative. “Most of self-quarantined employees are back to work and the rest should be returning soon,” said Ed Whyte, Carmeuse Americas senior vice president legal, environmental, business development.