Pandemic fears hit home on Sask. farm

A young man returns to the family ranch after university is cancelled and then tests positive for the COVID-19 virus

Brock Weston is unexpectedly home helping with calving after COVID-19 ended his university semester and then laid him low.

The 25-year-old would typically be completing classes at the Wisconsin university where he was set to finish a biology degree and was also playing hockey.

Instead, he is on the family farm near Maidstone, Sask., trying to stay as far away as he can from his parents after testing positive.

Weston suspects he was exposed to the virus on a trip March 7-11.

“I can’t really say for sure because I have no idea, but I assume it was when I was in Nashville,” he said March 25.

“We were on spring break but it was kind of right before they said stay home.”

He and his friends returned to their apartment in Wisconsin, where he packed up as much as he could and headed home in anticipation of online classes for at least a few weeks.

“I had some of the symptoms that they’re telling us now, but the thing is I never had the key symptoms that they said were indicative of COVID,” he said.

And the symptoms didn’t all appear at once.

He said he had a stuffy nose and sore throat in the morning for three or four days. He lost his senses of smell and taste and had no appetite, losing 10 pounds in four or five days.

Then he had a migraine, developed a fever and thought he might have influenza.

“The fever sweats were awful. I’d wake up completely drenched.”

Finally, he experienced the chest pressure that would bring on coughs in an attempt to get air.

“After about day five or six is when I finally started to feel chest pressure and the cough that they were talking about,” he said.

“But I never got a dry cough. I had lots of phlegm. It never really presented like they told us it would.”

On March 19, Weston called about testing and was tested the following day in Lloydminster.

“When I got there, you have to park in a certain spot on the street, call this number when you get there, and then they call you back when they’re ready for you to come in,” he said.

Those to be tested enter one at a time, sanitize and put on a mask.

“They walk you into a room and take this big Q-tip and put it up your nose pretty much as far as it will go,” Weston said.

“It wasn’t so much painful as it was uncomfortable and kind of felt like a sneeze that would never come.”

Both nostrils were tested and then he sanitized again, left his mask and exited through a different door to return to isolation.

Weston is sharing his story because he doesn’t fit the narrative surrounding COVID-19. He is in a younger age demographic, healthy and fit.

He said he has seen posts of friends out and about and is worried they aren’t taking the virus seriously.

“I’ve been calling people out left, right and centre,” he said with a laugh.

His friends back in Wisconsin have no symptoms but were just tested March 25.

But as Weston said, they could be asymptomatic and still be spreading the virus if they weren’t self-isolating.

“Before I even had any symptoms I could have had it for days and I wouldn’t have known, and that was before the whole lockdown,” he said.

His parents aren’t showing symptoms either, although Weston has been home for just more than a week.

The family is cleaning as best they can and isolating from each other as much as possible. His father stopped going to the coffee shop and friends aren’t dropping by.

“The more proactive we can be the better,” Weston said.

Spending time helping to calve out 200 cows is a good escape, he said, and gives his father a little extra help.

He laments that he now won’t have a graduation ceremony at university, but is looking forward to next steps. He had an interview — not in person — with the University of Saskatchewan’s medical school last week.

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