Editor’s note: This column was written by Mike Marturello, editor of the Hearald Republican in Steuben County, a sister paper of the IN Fort Wayne publications.

I am sorry.

I am truly sorry.

To my family, my colleagues, the people I cover for the newspaper and work with on a daily basis in the community, I am sorry. To everyone else. I am sorry.

I have tested positive for COVID-19 and have disrupted many lives and the office where I work. Thankfully, none of my close contacts have tested positive, including the staff in the Herald Republican office.

On Friday, Nov. 6, I went to the new COVID-19 testing site in Angola to take a photograph for the newspaper. Because of privacy concerns, I couldn’t really take a shot of anybody getting tested.

The healthcare professionals working at the site suggested I register and get tested and one of them would take a photo. After being returned my phone, I took a photo of the nurse who had tested me, putting the testing materials in a vial that would be shipped off for processing.

No big deal, I thought. The swabbing of the nose tickled. One side was more annoying than the other. That was it. I got a picture for the paper. Put my mask back on and headed out. Mission accomplished.

I left the site, went back to the office and carried on with my day. Over the weekend, I went about my way. We attended a cookout at Long Lake near Pleasant Lake with family on Saturday. It was outdoors. I went to stores over the weekend. I mowed the leaves. You get it, the normal stuff.

I can’t tell you how many people I have come into contact with. But nine times out of 10 — or more — I am wearing a mask when I am out in public.

For what it’s worth, my symptoms have been next to nothing. I had some sniffles I associated with being outdoors over at the neighbor’s one night, sharing a beer. It was somewhat chilly and I did not have a coat on. My throat was scratchy. Next time I wear a coat, I thought.

That was about it. Nothing more than a typical common cold, I thought. For the most part, I have felt fine the entire time.

For a photo for the paper, I got tested on Nov. 6 and on Nov. 9, my test came back positive. The entire time, every day when I would wake up and I would take a mental inventory of my feelings. “Hey, I’m fine,” I would tell myself.

Had I not been tested, I would have been in the office the rest of this past week (I get to return to work on Monday). My son would have remained in school. My wife would have been going about her normal routine, teaching classes, going to the store, maybe stopping by her mom’s.

I would have attended the Steuben County Council meeting in person. Lord knows where else the newspaper would have taken me the rest of last week, but I would have been there, mask on, but COVID positive for at least part of the week.

This shows that testing is important. It shows that many of us may not feel ill, or think their sniffles are really anything, but we are carrying COVID. And we can spread it.

Do I know who I may have come into contact with COVID-19? No. I can only guess. I can only think of about a few dozen situations or possibilities that might have put me in the wrong place at the right time.

I wear a mask. I wash my hands. I try to maintain distance from others. We have kept our contact with others limited to very tight circles, at home and at work.

But what I do gets me out and about in the community. That’s the one thing I have been thankful for through this whole thing. I have been able to work because providing information to the public is considered essential. I have not been home from work, other than for vacation time, this entire pandemic.

I have been lucky, in many ways. I have friends who have had COVID-19 and had a tough but livable time with it. One friend had minor issues, like me.

Others have not had it so easy. A couple weeks ago, I had an aunt who died from COVID-19. She was in a much more vulnerable age group, at age 91. But she got it and it took her fast.

I don’t know what more I can tell you, folks. I got COVID-19 and I’m OK. It’s been scary, just waiting for what might but did not happen.

The more people who get tested, the more people stay out of circulation until they are OK. It’s a good thing that we have more testing available. It’s not a big deal. Get tested. Find out, for yourself, your family, your colleagues, your friends, your community.

We have free testing available all around us in northeast Indiana. Just go to registration.coronavirus.in.gov and then sign up and get tested.

michael marturello is editor of the The Herald Republican. He can be reached at mmarturello@kpcme dia.com.

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