Editor’s note: The Virus Diaries is a series in which Mainers talk about how they are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

A stay-at-home executive order is in place in Maine. But essential businesses remain open. There is no way of knowing if an employee – or a customer – has been exposed to coronavirus.

If you are older, with medical challenges, the concern is compounded.

Clare Durst, 83, of Topsham is worried, as well as blunt about the possibilities. She lives with her daughter, who works at a pharmacy.

“I’ve got all my (do not resuscitate) paperwork in place,” she said. “But not knowing if I’ll be dead in a couple of weeks is disconcerting.”

Durst spices her words with a dash of gallows humor.

“It’s kind of like sitting in the Tower of London waiting to be beheaded!” Durst said. After a mastectomy earlier this year and undergoing chemotherapy, she began wearing a shirt with the words, “I’m not dead yet …”

Durst reassures that “I feel fine,” but there is uneasiness.

Clare Durst, 83: “I am quite concerned about the virus, mostly for my daughter’s future. For me, I am resolved to endure it if I can.” Photo courtesy of Clare Durst

“I am elderly and still recovering from a mastectomy early this year and having Herceptin (chemotherapy) infusions. I live in a cottage in a retirement community with my daughter, who is a healthy pharmacy tech.

“We socially distance at home as much as we possibly can – we have separate bathrooms and she strips down and washes the minute she gets home. I have been home for three weeks, except for a few walks and pickups at a farm store outside; properly distancing there, too.”

With all those precautions, Durst said there are still risks.

“Last Thursday, one of the pharmacists called in sick with a fever. She had been at the pharmacy (with my daughter) the day before. They try to keep apart from one another there, but space behind the counter is limited.  My daughter has been going to work, but no one knows whether or not the woman has been tested or if she has tested positive. No one in the store seems to know anything about her.

“Meanwhile, the employees continue to work and to potentially expose patrons. And of course, for myself, I would assume that my catching it from my daughter would be extremely problematic.

“I am quite concerned about the virus, mostly for my daughter’s future. For me, I am resolved to endure it if I can.”

Do you have a story to share about how you are affected by the coronavirus outbreak? Email us at [email protected]

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