Strict guidelines have been placed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including Utah’s statewide mask mandate issued by Governor Herbert on Nov. 8. But what does this mean for those who have already gotten sick?
There have been over 200,000 COVID cases in Utah; Utah County in particular has been a hot spot with record-high numbers. By now, many Utah citizens have either had COVID-19 or know at least one person who contracted the virus. Though the mandate applies to everyone, there are many people who have already been exposed.
Utah County resident Brianna Tello is one of these people. Tello is a hospital healthcare worker and, consequently, has been diligent about keeping up with new medical information, as well as being careful about keeping herself and others around her safe. However, she was still exposed to and contracted COVID-19.
“After six months of consistently wearing my mask, I chose not to wear it in this one situation,” Tello said. “I got sick because I thought I was safe solely social distancing in a moderately sized gathering. Because of that one decision, I caught it, and I spread it to five other people, including my elderly grandparents who ended up passing.”
Tello repeatedly expressed her support for the mandate, saying that it should have been implemented in Utah from the very beginning. “Having that barrier is so important. Even for me, and those who already have had it, because this is such a new virus.”
Tello also spoke about the uncertainty around the current state of COVID-19 antibodies. “It’s a virus, so you’re immune when you get it, yay! Oh, wait — scientists are now saying antibodies are only in your system for three months and then you run the risk of getting it again. In rare instances, people will get it twice, and no one wants to be that person. It’s honestly very confusing.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, re-infection with COVID-19 is extremely rare but has happened due to a waning immunity to the virus. Research is sparse, leaving many unknowns.
“I’m not annoyed by (the mask mandate),” BYU student Emma Jacobsen said. “Even though I’m not at risk as much as other people, there is nothing that says it doesn’t apply to me because I have already had COVID. I definitely think about other people and the risk that everyone has.”
Jacobsen also said she believes the most important safety measure beyond the mask mandate is to socially distance.