19 November

Me And The Pandemic. To Bishop Maginn Monday

by Jon Katz

Like everyone else, I’m bracing for the next wave of Covid-19 to hit my area as it is hitting other rural areas around the country. Masks are a difficult political issue here as they are elsewhere.

The infection count has risen here in November, but there were no new cases in the past week and 411 cases and 14 deaths since the pandemic began. Nearby Vermont – my town is on the border – has seen a sharp rise in cases in the past few weeks.

I suspect I will be housebound for a few weeks sometime around or after Christmas. The experts think a lot of people will get sick in family gatherings on Thanksgiving Day.

Maria and I have ordered a takeout Thanksgiving dinner from Jean’s Place for the day before Thanksgiving. We’re staying home and by ourselves.

I’ve not been inside of the Mansion since March, and I’m trying to figure out whether or not I should go to Bishop Maginn High School next Monday as planned.

I am planning to go to. I really need to see and talk with these children if I know enough about them to help them. The school is very Covid conscious and has had no positive tests.

The New York State health department has approved my visit as long as I take precautions, which I do.

I’ll leave Zinnia behind this trip, which is scheduled for Monday morning. There is a remarkable young woman, a refugee who has a story I want very much to tell. Sue wants to focus on my safety and not be distracted by the ever social Zinnia.

Sue and the school have worked out a plan for me. I’ll park in the school parking lot before lunch. That is when the school gym is sprayed with a disinfectant fogger we bought for them in August. It kills 99.9 percent of all germs and bacteria.

Once the gym is sprayed, I’ll come in a side door wearing a mask. No one else will be allowed in the gym but me,  Sue,  and the young girl who will also be wearing a mask and 15 feet from me.

The kids I know will come to the glass door and wave to me; I’ll wave to them. I miss them.

Sue will translate during the interview and shout the answers if necessary. I’ll stay just inside the outside door, take notes, take a photo and leave. I’ll be in the gym for about 15 to 20 minutes. It isn’t a social call, and I won’t be hanging around.

I feel good about it. I understand that I’m at risk in terms of age and chronic conditions, and I told Maria it would be foolish to catch the virus and/or die while a vaccine is so close.

I drive by the Mansion once or twice a day when I can and wave to the driveway residents. If they need or want anything, they dispatch an aide to come and tell me. The residents are not big on e-mail.

There is always a way to make contact with people. I got Peggy a pink blanket for her baby doll, I got three toys for the aides’ kids, and I got Ellen a beautiful stuffed toy cat.

I can’t do justice to these people if I can’t see them and know them a bit.

But I take the pandemic seriously. These procedures are very safe, and I will be quite conscientious about them. Sue has kept me out of the school until she was 100 percent certain I would be safe. And I know she would rather see Zinnia than me.

Maria approves.

So the trip is on for Monday. I’m bringing a car stuffed with Wish List toys that came to the farm. Thanks. I’ll make sure they are all delivered.

Photo: Christine in the Bishop Maginn front office.


  1. Jon…
    Folks in your area seem COVID conscious, and that’s a good thing. Cuomo has been an exceptional administrator and motivator. Unfortunately, he might get an encore.

    Here, it’s a mixed bag. At the supermarket, lots of older folks with walkers and canes – they’re very conscientious. But others aren’t.

    Our governor was all in for Trump, and now he seems lost. He had pushed school opening decisions down to each of (230) individual school districts. There’s no consistency, and school districts are getting pressure from both parents and teachers. Arizona’s school superintendent is pressing the governor for action.

    He also declined to issue a state mask mandate, and decentralized masking decisions to individual cities. So, people leaving metro areas are discarding their masks, putting rural areas at risk.

    Too many moving parts.

  2. Bless you Jon for all you give these souls. Am glad you are serious about being safe. I write from California and I am reassured that our all-too-human Governor—Gavin Newsom (who makes mistakes)—has clamped us down again..curfew starts Sat. It is not easy to please all 40 million of us. Sounds like you’ve planned well. Thanks for all you do.

  3. I am high risk as you Jon, only have a sixty percent breathing capacity from a bacterial infection from 15 years ago. I do appreciate your caution and I hope the precautions you are taking are enough. I have been in lockdown for more than eight months (doctor’s orders) and we will continue to do so. As you say, what a misfortune it would be with a vaccine getting closer, to loose that opportunity. We will be alone TG and Christmas too. I have had seventy years of wonderful memories of my holidays, I can give up one to perhaps enjoy more in the years to come. Be safe and well.

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