The pandemic became very personal at the end of April when cousin David Reisinger, a River Grove, Ill., paramedic/firefighter died after he and his ambulance partner contracted the virus from a patient.
David, my only Tatro relative in Chicago, spent a career in emergency medicine as an ER nurse and paramedic. For many years he was the EMS coordinator at Stroger Hospital, a major Level 1 trauma center in Chicago. After his retirement he continued a relationship with the River Grove department.
When we exchanged emails in mid-April, David said he had made a trip to a local hospital for chest x-rays, but was not admitted and seemed on the way to recovery. He promised a later email update. He died April 29.
The Cook County medical examiner's office lists cause of death as a stroke. There is little doubt, especially based on more recent research, it was COVID-19 related. He was 57.
When I emailed news of his death to Tatro cousins in the Carson City-Reno area, who did not know him, one shared the emotional struggle her 29-year-old daughter is going through. A second-year anesthesiology resident at a hospital on Long Island, she is administering ventilators and intubating COVID-19 patients -- most of whom die.
In mid-May we decided it was safe to get out of Chicago and retrieve our RV from winter storage in a barn near Evansville, Ind., and move it to Moraine Elaine, our Wisconsin getaway property.
As we traveled through mostly rural portions of three states, we got a new perspective on what life is like outside our urban hotspot. If you don't know of any COVID-19 patients in your community, it's understandable why residents in rural America chafe at a governor's stay-at-home orders – even if it's in their best interest. And why they are less like to wear face coverings or social distance.
From Evansville we stopped in Danville, Ill., and met friends in the local farm community. Sitting around an arrangement of tables in a machine shed that permitted four couples to social distance, one observed that until I told him of David's death the pandemic was distant. Now he had a new perspective.
On this trip we also gained a new perspective – of the gulf between the rural and urban perspective.