Novel coronavirus contact tracing results in pain

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At the start off the Covid-19 pandemic in the U. S., I, Jim Young, had been married to my wife Lisa Montrose (her father talked her into keeping her maiden name when we married, and I had no objection) for eleven years and we had two kids, seven and nine years old. I was working in the IT field while Lisa worked in local government in Northern Virginia.

A lot of background isn’t necessary to understand my story although a few titbits about Lisa’s family are significant.

Lisa is very close to her father Winston (who has never liked me), is also close to her mother Crystal who is divorced from her father, and hates her stepmother Karen. Karen is considerably younger than Winston, only about three years older than Lisa and I are, and Lisa thinks that Karen is a gold-digger; deep down inside I think that Lisa doesn’t like Karen because Karen is really good-looking but has a bad self-image (or at least she did have). Surprisingly Crystal and Karen got along much better than Lisa and Karen do; in fact they are friends.

I get along well with both Crystal and Karen, but detest Winston as much as or more than he detests me. I consider Winston an asshole and blowhard and don’t like how he treats either Crystal or Karen, and he dislikes me primarily because I stand up to him and have chastised him to his face for the way that he treats Crystal and Karen. If he could kick my ass he would — but he can’t if for no other reason than I’m twice as strong as he is and he’s no martial arts expert.

Despite the fact that I like Karen I have a problem with her. She’s too goddamn sexy. Everyone has different features of the opposite sex that they’re attracted to; Karen has every one that rings my chimes. I wish that she had a miserable personality so I could write her off, but she is kind and intelligent. I could never figure out how that asshole Winston convinced her to marry him three years ago. Despite my lust for Karen I do believe that I’ve properly hidden it from everyone.

Since most of the IT work I do is for a consulting firm that specializes in helping restaurants and retail establishments, predictably once lock-down orders were issued I was laid off. While our family is fiscally responsible we didn’t have the savings to make it for more than about six months without at least some monetary contribution from me so I started looking for other jobs that would pay decently (though obviously not as much as my IT job) while still allowing me to at least help out with home schooling the kids. It seemed that most of the jobs that became available related to dealing with the pandemic, and the type that appealed to me was contract tracing.

Contact tracing is part of the process of supporting patients with suspected or confirmed infections. The jobs have long existed for all infectious diseases (particularly STDs) but in view of the Covid-19 pandemic there was now much greater demand. Typically, during the pandemic, a “contact tracer” works with those who test positive for the novel coronavirus to help them recall everyone with whom they have had close contact during the timeframe they may have been infectious. The contact tracer then warns the exposed individuals (contacts) of their potential exposure as rapidly and sensitively as possible without identifying the person who is infectious, and gets the potentially exposed contacts tested for Covid-19. It can help to have an IT background in performing contact tracing since much of the work is done electronically (including utilizing cellphone and social media data), especially for patients who don’t seem to be honest in disclosing everyone they have had close contact with, therefore I was hired within a couple of days of when I applied.

My training for contact tracing was relatively short and expedited because of the need and because I had a good aptitude and background for it, so I started working within two weeks of when I was hired. I found that it was a rewarding job especially when contacts were tested and caught early so that their chances for recovery were enhanced. It was sad to see some contacts or patients die, but since I’m not actually a healthcare worker I didn’t have to experience that pain close-up.

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