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“How the Hell Did I Get Covid?”



Manhattanite Guillermo Porras a month ago at Grand Central Station
Manhattanite Guillermo Porras a month ago at Grand Central Station

The Insider:

Hi Guillermo! Thanks for agreeing to talk with us today.


Guillermo:

Hi and hello to all of the Insider readers!


The Insider:

What city do you live in?


Guillermo:

I live in Manhattan. I’m originally from San José, Costa Rica and have lived in New York City for 21 years.


The Insider:

How old are you?


Guillermo:

I’m 61 years old,


The Insider:

Did you go to school in Costa Rica?


Guillermo:

Yes. I was trained as an architect.


The Insider:

What made you decide to come to the United States?


Guillermo:

Many things! Since I was a little boy, I had a dream to visit the USA and learn to speak English like an American, and to learn American culture and food! I’m very lucky that my destiny put me in New York, I’ve met wonderful people here. After so many years of living in New York. I now consider myself a New Yorker! I’m very proud of it.


The Insider:

And did you fall in love here, too?


Guillermo:

Yes, I did and I still am! I met my husband here in New York in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.


The Insider:

How long have you been married?


Guillermo:

Nine years and in a relationship for 18 years. My husband is a diamond!


Guillermo In October at New York City’s famed Lincoln Center
Guillermo In October at New York City’s famed Lincoln Center

The Insider:

At the beginning of the pandemic, things were very tough in New York City because of the high Covid rate. Did it affect your life a lot?

Guillermo:

Yes, it was very difficult. I missed seeing friends and going to work. I couldn’t watch the news. It was very sad. Also very scary!


The Insider:

When did you get vaccinated?


Guillermo:

My first Pfizer vaccine was in March; the second was on April 1st. After the first six months, I tried to get a booster but it wasn’t possible because of my age. I was worried because of my husband’s health condition.


The Insider:

What is your husband’s health condition?


Guillermo:

He has leukemia.

The Insider:

So he obviously needs to be very careful. Has he had three shots yet?


Guillermo:

Yes, He got the three shots at Memorial Sloan Kettering. We are extremely careful.


The Insider:

How do you define “extremely careful”?


Guillermo:

We follow the Covid protocols and at home we keep everything super clean. We even used to wash all the groceries, clean the doorknobs, etc. No people are invited over and we’re not visiting anybody.


The Insider:

Tell me about your own health.


Guillermo:

In general, my health is good for my age, with a few issues under control. I’m very worried about my high blood pressure, which was a reason to get the booster as soon as possible. Finally, New York Presbyterian Hospital gave me an appointment for January, 2022. It would have been better if they had given me an earlier appointment. That way, maybe it would have prevented me from getting Covid and protected my husband’s health. But unfortunately, I just got Covid!


The Insider:

Oh, no! When?


Guillermo:

I was diagnosed on December 8th. But the symptoms showed up days before that.


The Insider:

I’m so sorry!! How do you feel now?


Guillermo:

Now I’m feeling better. But getting the test results was a high stress moment, with worries about my husband’s health condition and guessing what happen if he were infected too. It could be a health disaster!


In my opinion, with a patient with a health issue like his, I should have been able to get vaccinated immediately. It’s a big risk.


The Insider:

Has your husband been tested yet?


Guillermo:

Yes, he got tested immediately after my test result. We got his test result yesterday—negative. Thanks to God!


The Insider:

Yes! How are you handling the fact that you’re living in the same apartment? Are you staying in separate rooms?


Guillermo:

We live in a very small one-bedroom apartment. I spend all of my time in the bedroom and he uses the rest of the apartment to work and cook food.


The Insider:

What were the symptoms you had that made you get a Covid test?


Guillermo:

Very tired, coughing a lot and the loss of smell and taste


The Insider:

Are you still having those symptoms now?


Guillermo:

I can’t do much physical activity because I get tired easily, and don’t have smell or taste.


The Insider:

That sounds very difficult! And you were fully vaccinated and very careful.


Guillermo:

Yes. I got two vaccines, the second in April.


The Insider:

Do you know how you caught the virus?


Guillermo:

No! I have no idea where I got it.


The Insider:

You must have been shocked to get a positive test!


Guillermo:

It was shocking to find out that my test result was positive, and frustrating, after so many months of trying to be safe, to get the virus.


The Insider:

Are you in quarantine now?


Guillermo:

Yes, this is my tenth day at home. My doctor told me to spend four more days to be sure, and to get a test.


The Insider:

Did you have to contact people whom you had seen recently?


Guillermo:

Fortunately I didn’t see people because I thought I had the flu and didn’t want to expose anyone.


I’ll like to say that it’s very important to increase the presence of the police in the subways and buses, to check that people really are wearing masks and covering their noses and mouths. Also, I want to recommend that people not eat inside of restaurants if there is not fresh air running and the proper social distancing of six feet between tables and waiters wearing masks. And if you don’t have to travel, don’t travel. I hope my personal experience can help somebody!


The Insider:

Do you think people are getting too relaxed about Covid now?


Guillermo:

Yes. People are getting 200% more relaxed about Covid. Part of that is because people are tired and sometimes it’s easy to forget the mask and so on.


Guillermo at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. on November 29th in front of a representation of the Zoo’s celebrated pandas
Guillermo at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. on November 29th in front of a representation of the Zoo’s celebrated pandas

The Insider:

Will you change your own life now?


Guillermo:

Yes. I’m definitely not going to travel outside of New York and not going to stay in a hotel. We had a bad experience in Washington, D.C at the hotel we stayed at on Thanksgiving weekend. The room wasn’t clean. The hotel concierge told us that the cleaning crew was reduced and that it’s hard to have perfectly clean rooms now, My answer to him was that in pandemic times, that is not an excuse. My opinion? Do not stay in a hotel. Using a pillow when you don’t know who used before you is dangerous.


The Insider:

Yes, it’s still so risky out there! Thanks so much for doing this interview. We hope you’ll be better soon!


Guillermo:

Thank you!


The Insider:

Be careful and be well!

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