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Her COVID-19 contact tracing phone call: ‘You may be infected’

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SALT LAKE CITY — What’s it like to test positive for COVID-19 and, due to contact tracing, have to call all of the people you’ve had contact with recently to tell them they might be infected?

Megan Lopez joined Jeff Caplan on his KSL In-Depth program to share her experience with COVID-19 contact tracing after she was diagnosed with the virus.

KSL Newsradio’s Todd Fooks normally sits in with Caplan on the program, but he is in quarantine now because he is Lopez’s partner, and together they have a child.

No sympathy 

“I started out with no taste or smell. That’s the only symptom I have,” she said, adding she tested positive June 22.

“In your Facebook post you were crystal-clear: You don’t want any sympathy from anyone,” Caplan said. “Why not?”

“I don’t. I think what people are missing is there’s this big emotional component to this. . . I can’t lay my head down at night in peace. I’m actually about to tear up right now,” Lopez said.

“My cavalierness, I believe, impacted so many people,” she continued. “I had to make phone calls to some of my dearest, dearest friends that I hung out with on Saturday at a backyard party.

“To hear the fear when you tell them, ‘You may be infected with the coronavirus,’ it’s almost a death sentence for their families.

“I had to make several phone calls. People don’t hide it at this stage of the game,” Lopez said. “They don’t hide their fear and their paranoia. The amount of people I impacted in one fell swoop is insane.

“I sit in quarantine with no physical symptoms. But so much emotional turmoil and guilt and shame. I want people to understand that when they want to go out, and they want to do what they normally do — they don’t want to socially distance, and it’s a hassle to wear a mask. I want you to think about making that phone call to your loved ones, specifically my family. . . It’s hard to go to bed at night,” Lopez said.

COVID-19 contact tracing like ‘walk of shame’

“Megan, what did you say to them?” Caplan asked, urging Megan to describe her COVID-19 contact tracing.

“I said, ‘I need to tell you something really important. . . I tested positive for corona.’ And the first thing that’s come out of most people’s mouth is ‘Oh my god, my family.’ That is a raw response. And in that moment that’s when I knew: ‘Don’t ask me if I’m OK. I am OK. 

“All I had was compassion and so much sympathy and sadness to have to talk to them and tell them that. And that is what I said to most people,” Megan said.

“This is the part that really hasn’t been talked about. This contact tracing is really kinda like a walk of shame the way you describe it,” Caplan said.

“It 100 percent is a walk of shame because I know I could’ve done better,” she said. “I have had to relive the last two weeks of my life. . . I forgot to use hand sanitizer after the gas pump. Why did I do that? Why was I not wearing a mask outside at a backyard party? Why? Why did I not do that?

“There’s nothing but shame. All I have is shame and guilt because my life and [the lives of] 25-plus people [have] changed,” she said. “They are living right now in fear as well. Their load is my load now. Every person I’ve contacted, I check in with them every single morning to make sure there are no symptoms.”

“Well, Megan, if it’s any solace, you are one of thousands of people in Utah who tested positive this week,” Caplan said. “We hope you have an easy time with the virus, seriously,y and tell Todd we miss him.”

Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News airs weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. on KSL Newsradio.

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States