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Panic, Frustration For Young Bloomington Family After COVID-19 Moves In

Jason and Brittany
Jason Borchardt of Bloomington and his wife, Brittany. Jason learned Aug. 18 he had tested positive for COVID-19.

When Jason Borchardt of Bloomington learned of his positive COVID-19 test result last week, he panicked. But not for himself. For his 8-month-old daughter.

In February, she was on a respirator in a pediatric ICU during a bout with RSV, a very contagious virus that attacked her lungs. She made it through, but now her dad had COVID.

“That was really, really scary for us,” Borchardt said. “So as soon as I got that result, for something that affects your lungs, my mind immediately went to her. Is she going to be OK? Oh my goodness, I’ve been breathing on her. It was panic, and then it was, OK, what do we need to do?”

"I don't think our community is going to have as many freedoms as we've gotten used to."

So far, they’ve been OK. Borchardt and his wife, Brittany, also have a daughter, age 3. Jason is the only one who has tested positive, though everybody had symptoms at some point, starting with their 3-year-old.

Jason is one of nearly 1,200 people in McLean County who has contracted COVID since March. Like many of them, he’s not sure where he got it, and he never got sick enough to be hospitalized.

But it’s still no walk in the park. Because of Jason’s isolation period, and then his family’s required isolation period, they will essentially be trapped at home for nearly a month.

Jason said he was disappointed that his alma mater, Illinois State University, invited students back to campus—a decision that’s contributed to a recent local spike in cases and testing-positivity rate.

Jason said that spike affects more than just campus, pointing to the McLean County Health Department’s strained contact-tracing efforts. Jason learned of his positive test result on Aug. 18 but didn’t hear from a contact tracer until four days later.

“And that was like 300 (student) cases ago. What is this going to look like soon? I don’t think our community is going to have as many freedoms as we’ve gotten used to,” he said.

Before contacting COVID-19, Jason said his family was responsible about taking precautions, but they weren’t shut-ins. Jason and Brittany both work from home for State Farm. Jason said he typically would only go out to go to the grocery store. They saw the kids’ grandparents a few times.

“We’re just not really sure where it came from,” he said.

After their isolation periods end, the Borchardts will have a freedom that few have—an ability to go places without worrying about contracting COVID for the first time. They’ll be comfortable getting on a plane, or just visiting the Miller Park Zoo or Rader Farms again. The science is still out on reinfection.

“Knowing how careful we were, and the fact that we still got it, and you walk around town and see people not wearing masks and not doing the due diligence, it adds an additional level of frustration," he said. "Because you think about, whether you believe you need to wear it or not, whether you believe it’s gonna help or not, it’s the socially responsible thing to do.

“If you walk into a grocery store, and you see 99 people wearing a mask, and you see a sign that says, ‘Please wear one,’ and you think to yourself, ‘Nah, I’m not gonna do that,’ you’re kind of a jerk, right?”

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.