By Andrea Sachs
I’ll admit it. By the end, I was rather vain about my status as a NOVID, a person who has never had COVID. Sure, I’d paid a high price for that distinction, eschewing social gatherings and Broadway plays long after most Manhattanites had returned. But because of health concerns and the fact that I was no longer a twentysomething (okay, Class of ’70), I’d chosen a particularly cautious route.
I hadn’t been a naive NOVID, though. For three-and-a-half years (after 29 at Time magazine), I had been the editor of “The Insider,” a weekly digital pandemic publication I founded in 2020. Over that time, more than a hundred of us journalists and other eager scribes had covered the waterfront (viral front?), writing about everything from super–spreader weddings in New Jersey to fraternity houses in Nebraska flattened by contagion. I had interviewed dozens of people about their Covid experiences, some from their sickbeds. I may have been a NOVID, but my pandemic pedigree was nothing to sniff (sniffle?) at.
We shuttered the publication at the end of July, believing, like my giddy neighbors on the Upper West Side, that the pandemic was behind us. In the same spirit of self-congratulation that had led me to award myself regal status because I had never had COVID, I almost believed that our last issue marked the official end of the pandemic. Throwing off my mask, like the rest of the revelers on Columbus Avenue, I finally ate inside of restaurants with gusto.
Well, karma bites, my friend. After sneezing a bit on Tuesday [October 3] and testing negative, I woke up on Wednesday with a raw sore throat. I tested again. This time, the second line glowed bright red. Caught! My carefree maskless days had come to a grinding halt.
I paid penance for my arrogance. Starting on Wednesday, I proceeded to go through the symptoms I had heard described by so many Insider interviewees. Extreme fatigue. Coughing. Runny nose. Food tasted crummy and I felt crummier. But thanks to the myriad vaccines I had taken (God bless Moderna!), it was a relatively soft landing.
Even though I am now still testing positive after 10 days, the illness is clearly receding. The finish line is in sight. Tonight, I took my place on the living-room couch, and with the rest of the MSNBC audience watched the Israeli disaster unfold.
I live alone, so I was startled to hear a sneeze from someone other than myself. I looked around, and my two rescued cats, Jimmy and Abby, were peaceful. I must have imagined it.
Ten minutes passed. “Achoo!”
This time, I saw who was sneezing. It was Abby, my Abyssinian-tabby mix. She’s petite and quite the princess. The sound was almost dainty. This was not a hairball. It was definitely a sneeze. OMG! This can’t be happening! Had I given Abby Covid?
I immediately called Dr. Z, Abby’s pricy at-home vet. Yes, Dr. Z makes house visits to pets all over New York City. This is a place where you can have anything your heart desires delivered like a pizza if you’re willing to pony up the dough. But Dr. Z must have been visiting Fido or Fluffy on the East Side, because I didn’t hear back from him immediately.
After checking in with Abby, who now seemed to be breathing a little more heavily (or was I suffering from Feline Munchausen by Proxy?), I proceeded to my computer. Just as I feared. On the CDC site, it said that “The virus that causes Covid-19 can spread from people to animals during close contact. Pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been infected with the virus that causes Covid-19, mostly after close contact with people with Covid-19.”
Well, you try not having close contact with two hungry, hyperactive cats in a Manhattan apartment. Besides, any pet owner who doesn’t have close contact with their pet is a hard-hearted so-and-so. But even for us animal lovers, there are limits. The CDC website instructed, “Do not put masks on pets.” Not likely, Louise.
Have I mentioned that Abby and Jimmy are inseparable? They’re not litter mates, but they’re kindred spirits who spend the day toddling around after each other or spooning. If Abby is sneezing now, Jimmy is just waiting his turn.
I began compulsively scrolling again. On the Mayo Clinic website, there was a reassuring passage. “Of the small number of dogs and cats confirmed to have the virus that causes COVID-19, some didn’t show any signs of illness. Most of the pets that did become ill had mild symptoms and could be cared for at home. Pets have very rarely become seriously ill.”
No house visit by Dr. Z (fear of contagion?). So, Abby and I are quarantining together. She’s still sneezing, but less frequently. Thank goodness, Jimmy has no symptoms, but I am monitoring him carefully. I’m beginning to think we closed “The Insider” prematurely. I have to dig up my mask and remember not to share it with my furry roommates.
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