MOSES LAKE, Wash. — Recovering from coronavirus himself, Moses Lake School District Superintendent Dr. Joshua Meek offered up a simple piece of advice to anyone thinking of not staying at home while experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
"You're not being anybody's hero by dredging through it," he said.
The phrase is the same one used by Meek and his colleagues at the Moses Lake School District, a district that has seen its own noticeable impacts due to rising coronavirus cases in the area.
Although Meek said he hasn't been able to taste or smell anything or the last 11 days, he is nearing the end of his quarantine period and preparing to head back to work.
Meek said he was exposed to coronavirus by a close family friend that he met with on Nov. 1, along with Meek's wife and one of his three sons. Four days later, Meek's wife began developing symptoms. The same day, their family friend contacted them to say he had tested positive for the virus.
"Like many people, I think sometimes you start to make assumptions that you know everybody's situation," Meek said from his home on Wednesday. "And we obviously were exposed with somebody who didn't know he was positive."
The superintendent explained that his family had been following COVID-19 protocols and was taking the virus seriously.
Meek said the onset of symptoms happened "very fast" for his family. Meek himself first began feeling what felt like a bad head-cold or sinus infection.
"[I had] a lot of congestion, headaches, body aches, fatigue," he said. While he never experienced a fever, Meek knew something was wrong.
Meek noted that symptoms differed for his wife and sons as well. His wife experienced body aches and extreme exhaustion for several days.
"For each one of us, it kind of played out differently," Meek said. "I can completely understand people when they say they're not really sure what they had or what they didn't, it makes complete sense because it's all over the board."
Meek said he was sharing his story with the hopes that many will continue to take the pandemic seriously.
"It happened so quickly, that I think nobody should take anything for granted. So if you're not feeling well, stay home," he said.
Meek's own illness comes as Moses Lake is experiencing a "surge" of cases, according to the superintendent.
Four Moses Lake schools are currently operating via a fully online learning model due to staffing levels impacted by COVID-19.
For the rest of the district's schools, Meek said parents have been given the choice of sending their kids to class in person, learn via a hybrid/blended learning model or learn from home full time.
"We feel like our paramount responsibility as an educational institution is to meet kids' needs. And while health is one of those things, that's only one of several [needs]," explained Meek, saying many Moses Lake students rely on the district for mental health or behavioral support.
The school district emphasized that Meek's exposure to coronavirus was not tied to a large wedding of more than 300 guests held outside of Ritzville on November 7.
The Grant County Health District on Monday issued a public notice about the event, asking that guests test themselves for coronavirus and self-quarantine. The wedding, although technically in Adams County, was attended by some Grant County residents and has subsequently led to around 40 confirmed coronavirus cases the district said.