David Rupkalvis

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For the vast majority of us, COVID is someone else’s problem. That may sound harsh, but it’s true.

If you’re like me, COVID has touched you, but it hasn’t devastated you. My wife caught COVID last summer. The sickness was bad and had some odd side effects. But she was never in any danger and she overcame it. Fortunately, my children and I did not catch it even though we were in the same house. I’m not sure how it all works because we didn’t take any extra precautions. No masks in the house, no hiding from mom. We were just lucky.

Like the vast majority – more than 99 percent – my wife was sick, felt like crap for a week or so and recovered. She had side effects that lingered for weeks, but she made it through. That is my COVID experience.

I suspect by now most people know someone who has been infected. But, generally, we are the lucky ones. Our loved ones, our friends have recovered and gone on with life.

But for a few, the virus has been devastating.

In today’s newspaper we have a story with a local family who lost a loved one to COVID-19. Miguel De La Torre was 56 and in relatively good health when he was diagnosed with COVID. Almost immediately he was hospitalized. He fought for quite a long time before he died.

When the death was announced by the state, like the vast majority, he was listed as having underlying conditions. When talking to his family, we learned the condition was asthma. It is likely, the asthma made it more difficult for De La Torre to fight COVID, but his family is insistent the asthma is not what killed him – COVID did.

Just this week, we learned of another COVID death of a relatively young man in Coos County. He was 49 when he died, and he was listed as having underlying conditions. Several people here at The World knew the man, considered him and his family friends. I won’t give any details to protect the family, but I can say any underlying conditions he had did not kill him.

Around the office, the chatter is that he was young and healthy. He was an active member of the community, a dad, a husband, a friend to many. And without COVID, he would not have died.

There are some out there who still don’t take the virus seriously. It’s serious. True, the vast majority make it. True, if you are younger and healthy, you probably won’t have serious impacts. But you never know.

For a long time last year, I said I wore a mask to protect my parents. My thought was I didn’t want to catch COVID and pass it on to my parents. They are old enough to be in the high-risk category, and my dad has heart issues and my mom has battled cancer twice. They would certainly have the underlying conditions.

But now I’ve changed my mind. I now wear my mask to protect myself. I am a little younger than De La Torre and a little older than the man who died this week. I also have slight issues with blood pressure and diabetes. My medical issues are minor. I take medicine, but I have no issues if I forget a day. I could probably stop my medicine all together if I did a better job exercising and watching my diet. Simply put, today as I write this I am in no danger of dying from any health issue.

But neither was De La Torre when he caught COVID-19 and neither was the 49-year-old we learned about this week.

So, yes, I wear a mask for myself. I wash my hands more than I ever have for myself. I try to avoid dangerous situations because I want to spend many more years with my wife and children. I want to be around for a while to watch my kids grow up, to explore this region with my family, to provide what my family needs to thrive. I want to see what 2021 and the next 20 or 30 years hold.

So, I take precautions for myself. And when I get the chance, I will get vaccinated for myself. I don’t always like everything we have to do now, but I do it anyway. During this unusual time of uncertainty, those small steps are what I can do.

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