According to the Indiana State Department of Health’s website, Daviess County ended the month as one of just a handful of counties that have not yet had a confirmed case of COVID-19. Local health officials say that only means no one has tested positive yet and that more than likely the virus is in the community.
Now, there are examples popping up around the county of people who are self-isolating because they have suspected cases of the coronavirus. The Chris Byars family is one of those that is self-isolating after being told they probably have come down with the virus. Their self-isolation began on March 21 after consulting a physician and an emergency room.
“The symptoms my wife had, they said it was probable COVID-19, so we just went into the quarantine mode and self-isolation,” said Byars. “She has been dealing with that. She’s fighting with the cough and it’s gone through the whole house.”
Byars is an asthmatic who during the same time appeared to suffer symptoms of bronchitis. Their six children, ages three to 11, have also been struggling with a respiratory illness.
“I don’t know if I had it, but when I felt the bronchitis start, I began the social distancing and washing my hands pretty regularly,” said Byars. “For the kids, the big thing has been the coughs. They are really taking it the best. We did some albuterol treatments to try and get everyone’s lungs clear. It seems like it was more of a nuisance to them.”
While the Byars family feels they most likely came down with COVID-19 and have been told by medical professionals that is most likely what they have been suffering from, they have not been tested.
“We were told we don’t qualify for the test,” said Byars. “Unless things get worse, we will never know officially so for now we are praying we never know officially.”
Byars is pastor at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. He says the church did hold services the week before the family came down with their illness.
“We didn’t pass the plate,” he said. “We didn’t shake hands. We cut out a lot of the normal things to eliminate any possible exposure. I really have no clue where we might have picked it up. With six kids, it could have come from anywhere.”
He also says that so far his family seems to be the only one in the church that has come down with an illness.
“Thankfully, among our parishioners, I have not received a confirmation that anyone has gotten sick,” said Byars. “I am thankful for that and continue to pray that no one else will be exposed.”
The way things stand currently, the family is in the midst of just waiting for the sickness to pass before they end their isolation.
“The doctor said it was probable, so we are just acting like we have it,” said Byars. “It is better to be safe than sorry. Actually, right now, everybody should be acting like they have it. It’s a better way of self-distancing. For me I would hate to know I passed it on to someone else. I think we should all be thoughtful in that regard.”
The Byars family is not alone in the self-isolation. Another pastor in the community has also put her household on family lockdown. Pastor Cheryl Thorne with the Westminster Presbyterian Church says her family went into self-isolation after a member of a family living with her became ill.
“He works at Far Best and was sent home from work because he was sick, Monday,” said Thorne. “We took him to quick care and they sent us directly to the hospital. He was checked outside of the emergency room and they just put him on a 14-day quarantine.”
Thorne was frustrated with the lack of definitive answers.
“They said they would not test him for the coronavirus,” she said. “I’m livid. He is on quarantine. I’m on quarantine and can’t do my job. He rides to work with four other guys. They don’t know if they have been exposed. He works with all of those people down at the plant in Dubois County. They don’t know if they have been exposed. This is really stupid. Think about how many people he has been in touch with and we won’t really know anything for 14 days after the quarantine ends.”
Thorne also questioned how many people the man could have possibly come into contact with that could possibly pass the virus onto others.
Like the Byars, Thorne and her guests are now in self-isolation for the next two weeks. They are only left with hoping and praying for the best results and are looking forward to the time this all ends.
“We’re praying we are on the other side of things,” said Byars. “We are just waiting until we feel better before we rejoin the world.”