Inez Louis wondered how she could test positive for COVID-19 this week when she’d been so very careful.
Employed as strategic operations planner for Stó:lō Health Services, Louis has been the face of their Facebook live broadcasts about COVID-19.
Since the start of the pandemic in March, she has been the one many have looked to for crucial info across Stó:lō territory and beyond. She takes the provincial health orders seriously. Some have even accused her of being neurotic about it.
“But despite following all the precautions, I have contracted the virus somehow,” Louis said in her Facebook live message, ‘My Positive Test’ posted Thursday from her sickbed.
Maybe she touched a door handle and then her nose. Maybe she breathed in someone’s air.
In any case, Louis is begging everyone to “do the right thing” and self isolate for 14 days if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive.
It was important to her to be “transparent” and she felt a social responsibility to share.
“So my intention in coming on here is to remind everyone that if you feel the public health orders are an annoyance, or if you feel they are barrier, you need to reconsider.
This week she was monitoring her own respiratory symptoms since testing positive and feeling the “worse sick” in years, adding she’s been so thankful for help from family and friends.
“I want to encourage all of you to stay strong in your mind,” Louis said. If they get sick, they need to start doing the contact tracing work themselves.
“I am calling on all my relatives to please be careful. I can’t imagine if someone with asthma gets sick with this, or diabetes, or a heart condition.”
Louis advocated the importance of following the health orders from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry to the absolute letter – and she still does.
Her face is becoming well-known in Chilliwack, too, as the subject of a brand-new wall-sized mural downtown at the corner of Mill Street and Victoria Avenue. But Louis first catapulted into the limelight several years ago as Inez, a two-time Juno-nominated singer-songwriter, true to her Indigenous roots.
But she has since taken a break from the music biz, and has been concentrating on her other career as a nursing supervisor at Stó:lō Nation in Chilliwack.
Somehow on Wednesday morning, she tested positive for the virus.
The news came by text in big, capital letters.
“You’d think I would have been upset but I am more concerned about my contacts,” she shared in her live video.
Louis knew being exposed potentially could have a huge impact on her people, interrupting their lives and health as well.
She also acknowledged that contact tracers hired by health officials “are drowning” with surging numbers of positive people in B.C.
So Louis set to work and stayed up all night, mapping out her own lists of contacts.
That’s part of what she means by doing the “right thing.”
Her own contact-tracing didn’t take that long since she hadn’t been in contact with many people.
She sent them texts. She let her employer know, the schools where her children went to school. She made a list of every store she had been into.
Symptoms began on Tuesday night. She was driving and suddenly had a bad headache, and fatigue. By the time she got home, she started feeling achy, and other flu-like symptoms.
“I was freezing and could not warm up.”
But she knew she would have to get up the next morning, dress, mask up, and go for a walk-in test. When she headed out she had on two pairs of pants, leggings and fleece and her Section 35 toque.
“I looked so funny. I was so sick. I like to take pride in my appearance,” she said.
On Wednesday morning she stood outside waiting to get tested. She worried because she’d had the flu vaccine.
“How could I be sick? I’ve been so careful,” she said, opening up about her thinking.
As someone who has been a leader in best health practices in the region, she has worked hard to set the tone and follow the lead of the health experts, like Dr. Henry and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
“I said this in the beginning, that I refuse to bury one person, and i will work very hard to make sure that happens,” Louis said.
“So am letting you know that each one of you, if you get the call that you do the right thing.
“It’s OK to feel like you don’t know what to do or if you’re scared. I’m scared too, but you have to discipline yourself to do the right thing.”
She recommended calling 811, to get instructions, on the next steps.
“Be part of the solution,” she urged everyone, and thanked them for listening.
“I want to be clear, I am begging you to do the right thing,” she said. “Deaths are rising from this.”
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