For COVID-19 survivors, an immense sense of survivor’s guilt lingers

For COVID-19 survivors, an immense sense of survivor’s guilt lingers
Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 17:11:59-04

Like most teachers nearing the end of the school year, Kelsea Hindley’s days are spent grading online tests and making sure her students have completed all of their assignments for the year.

But for this 28-year-old high school French teacher, the end of this school year also marks the beginning of her first summer vacation as a survivor of COVID-19.

Hindley was only the second person in the state of Massachusetts, where she lives, to be diagnosed with the virus earlier this year. It was a harrowing experience, not just because of the symptoms she was dealing with, but because of the stalking she said she received from local news media.

In the early stages of the outbreak, her case brought with it a wave of fear and uncertainty she had never experienced before in her life. Some people, who she had never met, took to social media, saying she should leave town because they thought she might spread the novel coronavirus, even though she was quarantined at home.

“My anxiety level has never been that high in my life,” she recalled. “I felt so bad. I felt like I had done something to people.”

Hindley believes she more than likely contracted the virus while on a school trip to Europe with her students back in February. They had left the country weeks before top health officials had even begun to discuss the possibility of stay-at-home orders.

Hesitant to tell her story at first, she is now speaking out in hopes of connecting with other COVID-19 survivors, who might be experiencing the same kind of survivors guilt as her.

“Unless you’ve been sick, you don’t understand how it feels. It just feels extremely isolating,” she said about having the virus. “Don’t hold this against people just because they get sick.”

Months after first getting sick, the social media attacks have all but died down. She hopes other Americans see her case and have empathy for the thousands of others who are dealing with the virus.

“I want people to look at people like me and see that we do get better,” she said. “Just because I got sick doesn’t mean you have to treat me any differently than anyone else.”

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.