On May 6, Lisa Marsilio, our CEO, sent out the announcement that Covid-19 had finally arrived at Kendal. The first case was a staff member.

Lisa wrote, “We have notified any individuals who may have been in contact with the staff member who tested positive and are working with those individuals with proper COVID-19 monitoring of symptoms. The staff member who tested positive is assigned to our Kendal at Longwood campus and is not a direct caregiver and used appropriate PPE when working.”

She went on to describe the elaborate procedures we are using to prevent spread. This includes obtaining nasal swabs for testing of any Health Center residents who show flu-like symptoms (after obtaining an order from their primary care physician). Currently, these swabs are sent to the County Health Department for testing.

Two more cases. On May 11, Lisa announced to a Zoom-based meeting attended by well over 100 residents that two additional staff members had tested positive. She followed up with a written statement the next day: “To date, we have no residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 and we have a total of three staff members who have tested positive. Using contact tracing methods, we have determined that these staff members had no correlation with each other. Also, we notified any individuals who may have been in contact with the persons who tested positive and are working with those individuals with proper COVID-19 monitoring of symptoms. All staff used appropriate PPE when working and are at home in self-quarantine focusing on their health.”

Nothing has changed… Meanwhile, those of us in independent living continue to observe social distancing, the wearing of face masks, hand washing, and so on.

Our lock-down rules continue in effect. No central buildings are open. No gatherings are allowed. One meal a day is delivered, and we make the rest ourselves. On a day-to-day level, we continue to do what we’ve been doing. In that respect, nothing has changed.

…but everything has changed. On the other hand, the arrival of Covid-19 changes things psychologically. We were fortunate to have been Covid-free for so long. That’s been reassuring. Until now, I would have been able to tell myself that Kendal’s stringent rules and great medical team might keep us free of Covid-19 indefinitely. After a while, maybe some of the restrictions could be relaxed.

Now, the inevitable has finally happened: we have Covid-19 on campus. We are not as safe as we thought we were. We have to face the reality that even our aggressive virus-avoidance measures could not protect us indefinitely. Now, I wonder when it will be possible to reverse any of our restrictions. 

In her message to the residents on Zoom on May 11, Lisa spoke about areas of Pennsylvania where the governor’s gradual “reopening” procedures were being applied. Although it’s not happening in this part of the state yet, she expressed the hope that it would happen in our area soon.

I’m grateful for her optimism, but I tend to be more pessimistic. Like many residents, I now find myself thinking that this pandemic could drag on for a long time.  How long will we have to wait for a vaccine? Is a vaccine even possible? Absent a vaccine, is there any other path to returning to something resembling a normal life? An effective treatment, perhaps? Quick and accurate testing that is inexpensive enough to test everyone frequently?

For the foreseeable future, I will have to treat everyone I see as a possible carrier of disease. Yes, this is what we’ve been doing with our masks and our social distancing; but I, for one, have been doing it primarily to reassure others that I am not going to infect them. I have thought that it was very unlikely that anyone I would encounter at Kendal would be a Covid-19 carrier. Now, I have to take seriously the possibility that others I encounter here could infect me.

Keep safe and stay connected. I look forward to seeing you on Zoom.