When COVID-19 Is Symptomatic (not symptomic)

What if most people, such as the president of Harvard, get sick and it’s no big deal? Even with autoimmune condition:

Harvard President Larry Bacow announced in an email to the Harvard community on March 24 that he and his wife, Adele Fleet Bacow, had been exposed to the spreading coronavirus. More than a week after they began working from home and limiting their outside contacts, both started experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19. Now recovered, he shared their experience with the Gazette.

Q&A
Larry Bacow
GAZETTE: How are you and Adele feeling?

BACOW: We are feeling much better. We were very fortunate. We never experienced any of the respiratory problems that sent so many people to the hospital. For us, this felt a lot like the flu. Not fun, but certainly not life-threatening, at least in our case.

GAZETTE: What were your symptoms?

BACOW: We both started off with a cough and then that progressed to having a fever and chills. I also had whole-body muscle aches. Everything hurt. I felt like I was 120 years old almost overnight. And then lethargy — just how you feel when you have the flu.

GAZETTE: What was going through your mind when you learned you had both tested positive?

BACOW: Well, we’d been very, very careful, and I was a little bit surprised, in truth, because Adele and I had not seen anyone except each other for close to 10 days before we started experiencing symptoms. We were completely isolated in the house. One reason we had taken such precautions is because I live with an autoimmune condition that makes me very susceptible to any kind of infection. In fact, some people questioned why I actually got tested. It’s because I’m immunosuppressed. So I was at risk. And when we tested positive I thought, “This is going to be interesting.”

I was also worried about being able to discharge my responsibilities. When I was at Tufts, I had gotten quite ill in 2004 when my autoimmune condition was first diagnosed, and I had had to take a month off of work. I realized that I needed to look after my own health. I wasn’t good to anybody if I wasn’t healthy. But beyond that, I realized I also had to give others permission to take the time they needed to recover if they got sick. So when I tested positive, I tried to model the behavior I would hope to see in others by being a good patient and doing what I was supposed to do.

7 thoughts on “When COVID-19 Is Symptomatic (not symptomic)

  1. I wonder how much enthusiasm there will be for city2city church planting if NYC and other big cities revert to their bad ol’ day form of the 1980’s. At least church property will be cheap(er).

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  2. To your last point, Redeemer NYC just bought a building for a church to increase their cultural space. However, it will reduce the supply of housing for families, not that any want to live there.

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  3. SDB,

    I have a feeling there won’t be much enthusiasm at all. Once cities no longer become the hub for reaching the elite (if that happens), and once there is little market left for transforming the culture by having church-sponsored art shows and such things, church planting in the city for many denominations will be as attractive as it is right now for church planters in denominations that want a cultural voice (like the PCA) to plant churches in trailer parks and among the impoverished white working class in rural America.

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  4. Robert, $30M doesn’t seem like such a large figure for a large church of affluent members. If you have 1000 tithing members, that works out to something like $30k/person. It would take something like $300/mo over a decade to save up that kind of money in such a group.

    Predictions are hard – especially about the future! I doubt that NYC will become Detroit, but who knows. At least at the margins, I suspect that we will find that people will find lower density environs more attractive which is bad news for big cities. I think concerns like climate, proximity to family and friends, and cost of living/life style will weigh more heavily on where people will want to live, and increased telecommuting will make it more feasible for people to work from home. Of course, there are a lot of companies going the other direction, so I don’t think telecommuting will be the norm, but it doesn’t have to be to have a substantial impact on cities.

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  5. Walt,

    $30 million for the building Redeemer bought. Wow. How does a church have that much money?

    Dunno. They seem to have a building fund, like sdb sez.

    I have a feeling there won’t be much enthusiasm at all. Once cities no longer become the hub for reaching the elite (if that happens), and once there is little market left for transforming the culture by having church-sponsored art shows and such things, church planting in the city for many denominations will be as attractive as it is right now for church planters in denominations that want a cultural voice (like the PCA) to plant churches in trailer parks and among the impoverished white working class in rural America.

    Likely they’ll just keep following the elite around and become more and more like them. You are what you worship. Ministering to poor whites sounds incredibly unsexy, boring, and of course racist. Better to pour contempt on them through Twitter and social ostracism.

    Predictions are hard – especially about the future! I doubt that NYC will become Detroit, but who knows.

    I’m a betting man, sdb.

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