40 days of quarantine: How one local family was impacted by COVID-19

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Photos courtesy of Juan Serrano

Mitchell Roland, Senior Reporter

Editor’s note: Trinidad Serrano’s comments have been translated from Spanish to English by her son, Juan. 

 

When Trinidad Serrano’s COVID-19 tests came back, Juan Serrano was nearly speechless.

“Once the results came in, that’s when reality hit,” Juan said. “At first, I was kind of in shock.”

Juan, a junior psychology major, said his mom Trinidad Serrano was initially diagnosed with influenza A and B as well as pneumonia. Soon after, results came back that she had tested positive for COVID-19.

Trinidad’s symptoms started off with periods of hot and cold sweats. From there, she developed a cough, back pain and a fever of 104 degrees. She avoided going to the doctor as long as possible, even taking hot showers to try and cool her fever down. Eventually though, she went after she simply couldn’t handle the symptoms anymore.

“This illness is really serious,” Trinidad said. “I’m strong, so this illness didn’t necessarily scare me.”

While Trinidad’s symptoms lasted approximately two weeks, she’s been quarantined for the last 40 days. It’s been heartbreaking for her to not be around her family during this time. However, Trinidad still feels their love.

“My saving grace was having so much family that supported me,” Trinidad said.

For Juan, one of the most difficult things about Trinidad’s diagnosis was not being able to see her while she was sick.

“For me, it was emotionally devastating,” Juan said. “When I found out she was sick, I really wanted to be there for her.”

While Juan knew he couldn’t be by his mother’s side, he started doing other things to show her he cared. Whether it was grocery shopping or running other errands, Juan wanted to do whatever he could to help his mom.

“I was just doing everything I could to let them know I was there for them,” Juan said.

Since Juan’s parents are in quarantine, neither of them are able to work.

Filiberto Serrano, Juan’s dad, typically works in a warehouse from May to October during the cherry season. Juan had to insist that his dad stayed home in order to protect his health.

“He understands now that it’s probably best for him to stay home,” Juan said. “He’s never really dealt with a situation like this.”

Trinidad works full time at Zirkle fruit company in Selah, Washington. 

“I’ve worked my entire life,” Trinidad said. “It’s been really difficult.”

Juan also has to worry about others. His roommate is immunocompromised, which means if the virus spreads to her, the impact on her health could be more severe due to her weakened immune system. 

“I always have to think about how my decisions are going to impact the person I’m living with,” Juan said. “I only go out when I think it’s necessary.”

The only time Juan goes out is when he needs to buy groceries, to walk on a trail near his house or to go to work.

While Juan’s work puts him at greater risk, he feels fortunate to be employed at all.

For the past year and a half, Juan has worked for an industrial cleaning service, Cintas Uniform Services. His sister, who works at the same facility, was temporarily let go from her job. Juan said three people in his shift have been fired, and even more from the first shift were laid off.

“It was kind of frightening when all of this started to go down,” Juan said. “I thought I was going to get let go.”

At Juan’s job, he washes and sanitizes materials including hospital garments. He worries about the possibility of getting COVID-19 at work even though they take extra precaution with materials that come from hospitals.

“There’s always that chance that something is loose,” Juan said. “It’s just one of those things where the possibility is always there.”

For Juan, a family member having COVID-19 has reinforced how serious the virus is. That’s why Juan gets so frustrated when people try to brush off its severity.

Regardless of how many times he talks about it, and even when he brings up that his own mom had the virus, Juan has a friend who refuses to accept how serious it is. 

However Juan isn’t giving up. His mom having the virus has reinforced how serious it is for people to stay at home.

Trinidad said people need to stay connected during the pandemic.

“It’s important that we stay together and stay united,” Trinidad said. “Be strong.”