The careless danger in dismissing COVID-19

Hoping the Chicago inspector makes it safely through quarantine

Photo credit: Tonik/Unsplash

When there’s a checklist on my mind, I have the worst time going to sleep. I just wanted the City of Chicago Building Violations inspector to show up, so I could get a couple of four-year-old issues off our record. Repairs and maintenance had been addressed long before I moved in, but calling on inspectors for a follow-up fell through the cracks. When I got the phone call from the inspector this morning, I was all set to say, “I’m ready! I have the keys!”

Instead I was told that there would be a cancellation. Why? Because the inspector who was scheduled to come out had gone to another building, and the couple there told him while he was already there that they’d been diagnosed with positive results for coronavirus (COVID-19). I paused on the phone for a second, thinking I clearly had to have heard wrong. No one could possibly be cruel enough to knowingly let someone into his/her home knowing the positive results of a COVID-19 infection. No one could leave a hospital the day before and not bother to call the inspector to tell him to stay home. That’s not a thing. How could it possibly be? Unfortunately, the story was repeated. It was actually a thing someone did.

Because of that incident, that inspector will quarantine for two weeks, and City of Chicago inspectors are reportedly informed that they would not be able to continue on with their duties for indoor inspections. All I could do was shake my head. It wasn’t just the cruelty of knowingly exposing that inspector to it but also allowing him to risk infecting someone else unknowingly. As vain as those “It could have been me” stories are, it literally could have been me — 24 hours later.

There are currently 2.2 million cases of COVID-19 infections in the United States and more than 119K have died this year, but it’s far too easy to just get frustrated wearing a face mask, gloves and/or disinfecting everything in sight whenever you walk in and out of the door. I hadn’t seen my parents for five months, including purposely not visiting them on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, because I didn’t want to involuntarily pass on anything that I had not been tested for.

Recommended Read: “Thanks to COVID-19, Mother’s Day will be virtual ~ 17th anniversary of my college graduation

But a couple of friends stopped by on Father’s Day to hang out for a couple hours and handle some building business. I hugged them. I know I shouldn’t have, but I’m a hugger who was ecstatic to see them. I sent photos to my mother. She said she was jealous. Less than 24 hours later, both of my parents were at my front door, kissing and hugging my face. Damn the six-foot distance. I missed my parents.

A COVID-19 care package from my mother, who crocheted all the face masks (Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

Even I am guilty of being too relaxed when it comes to COVID-19 and social isolation. I take walks and only put on a mask when I encounter people headed my way. I have long ago grown tired of wearing plastic gloves. I still disinfect doorknobs, remote controls, groceries, keys and my steering wheel. But one day I’d had it up to here with my sunglasses fogging up underneath a traditional face mask and a crochet one, and I just took it off altogether while a technician was fixing a surveillance camera. Then came the gardener who was maskless and asked me did I mind. I shrugged and said, “Your face, your business. But I’m keeping mine on.”

In all of these instances, even in my less-safe behavior, I still tried to look out for other people. I peered behind my door and asked my parents did they want me to put a face mask on — the same people who have known me my entire life who I had not touched in five months. Because I care. I don’t know the surveillance tech nor the gardener, but I still kept the six-foot distance and the mask on for one or both. Because I care. I don’t know the people walking down the street, but I step way out of their way (and mine). Because I care. When the renovation guys and maintenance guys need to talk to me in person, same deal. Because I care. I don’t need to know you. I just want you to be safe and me too.

Recommended Read: “Focus on how far 6 feet is, not buying face masks ~ Give people two Labs’ worth of personal space while shopping

So I have trouble wrapping my mind around the carelessness (or flat out DGAF-ability) of someone who would allow an inspector to come into a home, knowing the consequences of exposing him. It is one thing to unknowingly pass COVID-19 on because you have not been tested. It is a whole other to have it fully on your mind and tell someone later. No one should be that ice cold. But considering there are those who are, if you’ve grown mildly relaxed and just want to enjoy your summer, do it with your PPE firmly in place. You just never know who you’ll run into in the meantime.

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Shamontiel L. Vaughn

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Check out her six Medium pubs: BlackTechLogy, Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit to read about her.

We Need to Talk

Let’s chat about my oddball thoughts on family, relationships and activism — with a dose of comedy, too.

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