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As part of our series Alone Together, our newsroom is collecting stories of social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Alone Together: Stories of Social Distancing — Senior Citizens

Photo illustration of a woman on a phone screen
Renee Bright
/
KUER
Part of a population highlighted as one of the most vulnerable for contracting COVID-19, a few senior citizens shared their stories with KUER.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, health officials in Utah and across the globe have been warning that senior citizens are one of the most vulnerable populations for contracting COVID-19. In fact, people between the ages of 65 and 84 make up 33% of all virus related hospitalizations in the state. 

KUER wanted to hear from a few, about how they’re adjusting to social restrictions and their fears during this health crisis. They shared their stories with us. Read some of them in their own works. 

Marilyn Cox, 69

At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Marilyn Cox had a fever and felt unwell. She went to the doctor but was told she would be fine. Cox said her symptoms were unlike anything she had ever felt and believes she did indeed have COVID-19. 

“I’ve been isolated for a long time. And just when I am feeling better, now I’m supposed to be staying at home. I think we need to pay attention to people who have had it and overcome it. It’s not a death sentence.”

Jamie Johnston, 67

Jamie Johnston lives in Alpine with his wife. Johnston said things have been good for them because they have followed teachings from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

“I am blessed. I happen to be LDS and my wife and I listened to the counsel on food storage for many years and developed over the years the habit of storing up extra of what we ate.” 

But he said they worry about people who are less fortunate.

Diana Wing

Diana Wing and her husband take extra precautions when they leave the house. They wear gloves, have people bring prescriptions to their car and keep their distance. But that hasn’t been enough to quell Wing’s fear of how she could spend her last moments. 

“I think my biggest fear is that I will die alone because of a lack of masks and protective gear. Then people cannot be with me in the hospital if something happens. I think that this is a matter of when I get the virus, not if and at what point in the hospital cycle that will occur.”

Anne Smith, 81

Anne Smith is a widow living in Tooele. She said she’s trying to see the positives in the situation. Like her ability to binge watch her favorite YouTube channel. But the world around her has started to shrink. 

“There’s some good and bad parts of being home bound. The bad, I can’t see my great grandkids, I usually see them often. I miss water aerobics, both the exercise and the friends. Here’s some good things, my house has never been so clean, I even polished the silverware. I’ve always stockpiled so for the present I only need to shop for medications and vegetables.”

This is part of KUER’s series Alone Together: Stories of Social Distancing.

Next, we want to hear from high school seniors. What’s it like finishing school from home? How has this affected prom, graduation and even college plans? Call us at (801) 609-1163 and leave us a message. Thank you.

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.