Guest Opinion: Are you infected?

When it comes to COVID-19, we need to think of others and consider how we can protect everyone.


In the article entitled, “Symptoms not foolproof on COVID-19, expert says’ in the Wednesday, April 1, edition of the Brainerd Dispatch by John Lundy he quotes Dr Susan Kline, an infectious-disease physician who is a professor at the University of Minnesota: “It is well known by now that people can have COVID-19 without having any symptoms.”

This is precisely why social distancing is so important. I, along with all the men and several of the staff of Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge were on a 75 minute teleconference meeting with an emergency medicine doctor on Tuesday. He made it clear that the confirmed case on our campus was by no means the first case of COVID-19 in our community, it was the first tested and known.

Since we released the news that we had a confirmed case on our campus I have been flooded with messages, emails, and phone calls the overwhelming majority of which have been loving and supportive of our clients and staff. People have written prayers, expressed their love and asked if there is anything they can do. It has honestly brought me to tears several times. One local company, MaxBotix, donated 100 masks.

Our state-wide organization first began talking about this way back in January. Every single day we are updating and adapting to the new data and knowledge being shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health with our medical staff who are in communication daily. This is all uncharted territory for all of us.

What I want to encourage all of us to not do, is to continually look back and make judgments about decisions made weeks or even days ago based on today’s reality. Every leader from federal, state, county and city officials, as well as health professionals, business owners and families, are all making decisions based on the best information they have today. With the information updating minute by minute, changes are being made now that couldn’t have been made without that information days or weeks ago.


The ER doctor on our call yesterday reiterated to our men that most everyone is eventually going to get this, most won’t even know they had it. That doesn’t mean we should be reckless, it means we should be more careful.

Because I had close contact with the client in our program who tested positive (I prayed with him and hugged him in chapel the morning of the day he later developed symptoms) I have been quarantined at home for 14 days. It has made me think completely differently about all of this. Now I don’t have any symptoms but what if I do have the virus? I want to protect my wife so I’m thinking about everything I touch and everywhere I go. We are sleeping on separate floors and I am wiping down common surfaces every time I touch them and our kitchen smells like bleach. This may be overkill but I do it out of love. I propose that everyone should start to think of themselves as already having it instead of thinking defensively and how to avoid it. How about we think of others first and consider how we can protect everyone around us, just in case you have it and don’t know it.

Let’s stay positive, be supportive of all the leaders and do our part to love and serve one another the way we all desire to be ourselves.

Sam Anderson is center director of Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge's Brainerd campus.
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