ken vs. covid
COVID catches Ken Hoffman: CultureMap's columnist chronicles his case after a 3-year dodge
My number finally came up: I caught COVID. It was bound to happen.
I recently went on a four-night, Thursday through Sunday, cruise out of Galveston with one port stop in Cozumel. It’s up in the air the time and place on the ship I caught COVID, but if I had to pinpoint it, I’d say an elevator, which was packed beer breath-to-breath or the casino where it was smokers’ hack-to-hack.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln …
I had fun on the cruise. I won a few bucks when the smoke cleared in the casino. I went overboard on Italian night at the all-you-can-eat buffet. I played HORSE with children on the top deck basketball court.
I won the ship’s Beatles Trivia Contest with a perfect 20 out of 20 score. (Editors' note: Not a fair fight, Ken, given your background.) My prize: a key chain.
I bought the Internet package so I could listen to Jim Cornette’s podcast.
No faulting the cruise line
Our columnist places no blame on his COVID diagnosis with the cruise line. Photo by Stephanie Klepacki on Unsplash
I’m not accusing the cruise ship for being reckless with cleanliness. The opposite was true. The staff was obsessive about wiping down banisters and elevator buttons. My cabin was spotless.
Every guest was directed to a hand-washing station before they could enter the buffet. COVID just happened to me. Statistically, it was bound to happen.
Here’s one of bit of extra careful advice. During the stop in Cozumel, I took a cab downtown to do a little shopping at a pharmacy. Prescriptions are so last year. When I got back home and opened a box of “medicine,” I noticed the seal was broken on the bottle. Right down the drain. You might want to check your purchase at the cash register.
The ship returned to Galveston early Monday morning. If you lug your own bags to the gang plank, you can be one of the first to disembark at 7:30 am.
That’s one of the best parts of a cruise vacation. When the trip is over, you’re home within an hour. If you spend a week, let’s say in Europe, getting home takes the better (worse) part of a miserable day between cabbing to the airport, getting through security, waiting for the plane, the 11-hour flight, waiting for your carryon bag which they made you check anyway, the excruciating line at U.S. customs, the shuttle to the parking lot and the drive home.
When positive news is totally negative
Soon as I got home, I thought, "I feel fine..." — one of the answers to the Beatles trivia contest. (Editor's note 2: Showoff.) But hey, let me take a COVID test just to be safe. I had just spent four days mingling with a few thousand strangers wearing flip flops to dinner. Hey, nice feet. I just had a feeling.
I made arrangements to quarantine. I placed my order for H-E-B home delivery, loaded up on frozen pizza and Diet Pepsi — the survival essentials — grabbed some clothes and headed to my Fortress of Solitude in Montgomery.
I also called my real doctor for a Paxlovid prescription, the anti-viral drug for after you catch COVID.
We're not sure if our columnist's own Fortress of Solitude looks like Superman's here — but we wouldn't be surprised.Screengrab via Warner Bros./DC Comics
A fairly light COVID cruise
I am fully vaccinated. I got the shots, five of them, each time on the day I was eligible. During the early days of COVID, I wore a mask in stores and wherever I might encounter people. I followed the science. But I didn’t stop living. I ate in restaurants, I visited Europe a couple of times, even took two cruises last year.
I believe the vaccines worked as intended. Yes, I still caught COVID, but I didn’t get laid up in bed or go to the hospital. I had the sniffles one day, that’s it. I’m glad I tested, though, because, while I had no symptoms, I could have transmitted the virus to others.
I tested positive on Monday and tested negative four days later. I quarantined: I invented fake sick. (Editor's note 3: Accurate.) Two extra days, tested negative each time, just to be safe.
Do I think I caught COVID on the cruise? Yes.
Would that stop me from going on another cruise? No.
I have a Beatles Trivia Contest title to defend. But I think I’ll stay on solid ground and out of buffet lines for a while.