From KNOP News 2 on April 22:
CALLAWAY, Neb. (KNOP-TV) – We’ve heard the stories. And we’ve read the numbers. Food drives for those who are feeling the pinch. Millions of dollars sent to businesses and private citizens. A record number of unemployed. Plus, shortages on supplies and higher prices on necessities in some places, causing inconvenience. These are just some of the problems being caused for the average Americans and across the world.
But some people are feeling the Coronavirus first hand – up close and very personal. A virus that has worked its way more than 7000 miles as the crow flies has landed right here at home.
In Callaway, Nebraska, two have died. The hot spot there is Callaway Good Life Care Center where 14 residents tested positive.
The first two patients – two 80-year old gentlemen – died due to complications from COVID-19. One man was from Arnold, the other was from closer to Cozad.
During the initial outbreak, two employees also tested positive after coming into contact with sick the first two infected patients. Both are young people, fighting a different kind of battle with the virus.
One of those two is Natalie Trumbull. She’s 18, a front line worker, and a high school senior. Natalie tested twice. She went through what she calls “an unpleasant experience” once in early April with results that remained “pending.” After a second test Natalie received a phone call on Easter morning, saying the second test was positive.
She said she initially had a shortness of breath. “I really just thought it was allergies,” she said. “I have really bad allergies, and asthma. Monday after Easter I felt ok, but then I lost my sense of taste and my sense of smell. And then I started having fevers. It just felt like I had the flu though.”
And she said fighting with COVID-19 isn’t really how she planned to spend her senior year. “I never thought this is something that would come to Callaway,” said Natalie. “I never thought it would hit our town. I though it (closing the schools, etc) was more of a precautionary thing.”
No prom. No goodbyes. No final walks down the hallway at Callaway High And No traditional graduation.
Natalie’s mom is a PARA at Callaway Public School. She notified the school right away that she would be in self quarantine. Natalie’s dad is a self employed mechanic. Natalie said he has a big sign on his shop door and no one is allowed in. Neither of Natalie’s parents have shown any signs of having COVID-19, in fact, Natalie’s mom tested and the test came back negative. Still, as a family, the are in isolation.
As for getting the virus, Natalie has been working at Callaway Good Life Center in Callaway since she was 15. She began as a dietary aide, but earned her Certified Nursing Aide certificate when she was 16. She said every precaution was taken at the nursing facility to keep people safe from the virus, which she agrees show just how contagious the virus can be.
She quoted Governor Pete Ricketts explaining just how important his message of “stay home, stay healthy, stay connected,” is to fighting the Coronavirus. She said, “Not a lot of people can say they’ve had COVID-19, and they’re a senior in high school, and they’ve had their senior year get ripped right of their hands,” said Natalie.
Natalie must be self isolated for two weeks and then for an additional 72 hours with no symptoms before being cleared from COVID-19. Natalie explains that the Loup Basin Health Department is not currently re testing at the end of that period to ensure a negative test, however the must sign off on her before she can return to work at Callaway Good Life Center.
Getting back to work is something she is anxious for. She said she doesn’t much like sitting around doing nothing, and she really enjoys the town cruise nights because she likes hearing the cars as they drive by her house.
Natalie said the worst part of the COVID-19 is the self isolation – not being able to see her family. She misses seeing her niece and her grandparents. “I taught them how to FaceTime, but it’s just not the same thing,” said Natalie.
“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Natalie said. “My mom always says it is what it is, and that’s true.”
Plus, she says her faith is very strong. She opens her Bible often. “I just know everything will be ok.” She adds that she has a big support system, and agrees that while she sits alone, connection is key to staying strong.
She says she has to be happy because the alternative is to be depressed, “and that is not who I am.”
Natalie hopes to be back to work by April 27 if allowed. She plans to go to Mid Plains in the fall to pursue a degree in nursing.