Faith in isolation; Winfield pastor doing her part

This sign hangs on the door at the Winfield home of Jessica Ingram, who has self-quarantined along with her family to try and avoid COVID-19.

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Area residents who are in isolation due to possible exposure to the COVID-19 virus talked to the CourierTraveler about how they are doing and their daily activities now that they are limited on where they can go.

Maddie Johnson, the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Winfield, has been in quarantine since March 14 after returning from a  weeklong trip to Georgia and Florida. 

Upon returning she saw the Cowley County Health Department had released an isolation order two days prior, saying that anyone at risk of potentially developing the illness must remain isolated and monitor their symptoms for 14 days to ensure they have not contracted the illness and, if they have, can’t spread it to others. 

Johnson contacted the health department to ask if she should self-isolate, and was told she should.

Since then, Johnson has spent a lot of time ministering from her computer. This includes setting up meetings and hosting a daily lunchtime conversation for church members and others seeking some connection. 

She also spends a lot of time watching TV and reading the news. Johnson said she was stocked up on food before the trip and has been ordering takeout from College Hill Coffee. 

Church members have also volunteered to get groceries and stay in touch with the help of technology.

How she feels about the isolation depends on the moment. Last week was hard as news about the virus was changing rapidly and she felt helpless a lot. This week, she’s been more active with the realization that people might be in this together for longer.  

Johnson said she’s been checking her temperature daily, but so far has shown no symptoms of the virus.

Calling the local health department, she said, was the responsible thing to do, and she wants to do everything in her capacity to help keep people healthy and well. 

As an extrovert with a people-oriented job, Johnson said being isolated has been hard, but she’s knows it’s for a good reason.

“This is bigger than me,” she said. “I knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t be affected, but I love the members (of my church) and want to keep them safe.”

Johnson said it’s been wonderful to see people showing up for each other and finding ways to stay connected. One of the things she misses most is the regular parts of her day, such as running into people she knows while out and about.

Even with the inconveniences and interruptions of being in isolation, Johnson said she feels honored to do it.

“It’s a privilege to be able to stay home and care for each other by not being present,” she said.

Other Cowley County residents have been practicing isolation measures for their family’s safety, even if not required to do so.

In response to a question posted to the CourierTraveler Facebook page, Jessica Ingram, of Winfield, said her family put a note on their door last week letting visitors know they are in isolation. Ingram said in a follow-up question that her family chose to isolate themselves because they have a child with asthma and don’t want to risk getting the virus.

“With six kids it has been actually going well,” Ingram said. They have been playing games, doing arts and crafts, among other activities,” she said.

“The only thing that seems to bother the kids is not getting to see their friends. Other than that, all is well in our house.”

Southwestern student Taryn Walter said she is stuck in Reid Apartments at Southwestern College after being around a friend whose mom tested positive in Ponca City.

 “I feel like I am going to go mad,” Walter said. “I take my dog out, but that is the only contact I have!” 

She is not on the meal plan but the college has offered to bring her lunch and dinner. “My classes are all online, and a couple are holding zoom sessions to do lectures and answer questions.”

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