Wendy Garcia, division director for family health and disease control for the Davis County Health Department, poses for a photo at the health department offices in Clearfield on Friday, March 19, 2021. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News
CLEARFIELD — Wendy Garcia has seen her share of trembling these past 12 months.
There was the woman who came to the Davis County Health Department offices in Clearfield last summer who had been exposed to COVID-19 and needed to be tested.
“She was physically shaking. She was just so frightened, so fearful, so afraid she was going to die,” remembers Wendy, a registered nurse who is the Davis County division director for family health and disease control.
That’s a bureaucratic way of saying she’s the person in charge of pandemics.
When the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in Utah, it was Wendy who took the call from the Utah Department of Health confirming that the infected person resided in her jurisdiction.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Wendy Garcia, division director for family health and disease control for the Davis County Health Department, front, poses for a photo with health department staffers Jessica Lamberstsen, community health educator, left, Kaylee Crossley, assistant to the director, Sarah WIllardson, bureau manager of Communicable Disease and Epidemiology, Caitlin Pratt, epidemiologist, and Aimee Dussol, performance management coordinator, at the health department offices in Clearfield on Friday, March 19, 2021.
“Congratulations, Davis County is the first county in Utah to have a COVID case,” she was informed.
It was 5:30 p.m. on March 6, 2020.
Quitting time. Supposedly. But no one went home that day until one the next morning.
It was just the beginning of 70-hour workweeks filled with testing, treating, contact tracing, quarantining, social distancing and, finally, vaccinating.
“It’s been a very difficult and tough year; I can say that with conviction,” says Wendy. “Just exhausting. Like being on the front lines at the battle field.”
That first case, of course, morphed into dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, placing Wendy and her staff — which quickly grew from seven in the beginning to more than 70 at the pandemic’s height — at the tip of the spear, as it were.
To find out if you had it, or didn’t have it, and what you should do if you did or didn’t, you needed to talk to them.
Which brings us back to the trembling woman in the examination room last summer, a person so unnerved she could not control her body.
It didn’t help, Wendy adds, that she and her health department colleagues were dressed head to toe in gloves, masks, face shields and gowns — your basic hazmat suit.
“First thing we said was ‘Please don’t worry.’ We explained that what we were wearing was for her protection as well as ours. Then we talked about the procedure about to take place.”
If she were to test positive, it certainly didn’t mean she was going to die. The odds for a full recovery were very much on her side.
Wendy and her staff saw a lot of scared …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Utah News