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Voces Oral History Center Interview Alicia Cisneros

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0:09 - Preamble – Introductions – Moving to Elgin, Illinois 4:43 - Covid impact on work

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Segment Synopsis: Alicia works as a dental assistant in Elgin, Illinois. She recounts how she first found out about COVID-19 watching the news in January 2020. Back then, she didn’t think much of the virus and didn’t think it was a serious issue because it was in China, and other viruses have come and gone like the swine flu. The outbreak in New York showed her the seriousness of the virus “I realized it was something bigger than we thought,” she said.

Due to COVID her work closed for almost two months (March to late May). During that time, they only attended to emergencies and couldn’t do regular dental procedures. She says older patients were “scared” of the virus and they discussed their concerns about COVID with her. None of the patients she saw or tended to showed signs of illness caused by the virus. Although the staff ad herself always had enough PPE, she didn’t feel safe in her work environment.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Covid-19 (Disease); Covid-19 (Disease)--Patients; Facility--Hospital; Health Services; Illinois; Military Service; News Coverage--Covid-19 (Disease); Pandemic; Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); United States

Subjects: Coronavirus infections—Diagnosis; COVID-19 (Disease); COVID-19 (Disease)--Health aspects; COVID-19 (Disease)--Safety measures; COVID-19 (Disease)—Patients; COVID-19 (Disease)—Transmission; COVID-19 (Disease)—Treatment; Quarantine--United States; Social Interaction--United States; Spanish language—Usage

10:00 - Contracting Coronavirus

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Segment Synopsis: Alicia started showing symptoms of COVID: she felt “weird”, tired and the developed a 104 fever which lasted for eleven days. Alicia self-quarantined at home for three weeks but spent five days at Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois. Medical staff tended to her and tried to boost her immune system. At the hospital she received oxygen but was never put on a respirator. She started feeling better by the third day when her fever started going down. Her chest though felt strange. She said it was, “something I had never experienced before”. By the fifth day in the hospital she felt better and was just in observation.

Alicia was told she was now immune to the virus. She didn’t feel nervous about contracting it again but felt nervous about the possibility of transmitting the virus to other individuals such as family and friends. News reports on the virus made her scared of getting sick again. After a couple of weeks of avoiding COVID-related news due to the uneasiness it brought her, she started following it again. “It bothers me. It hits me. When I see the numbers that keep on going up and to know that my mom and my brother are part of those numbers. It's very painful,” she said.

Keywords: Coronavirus; COVID-19 (Disease); COVID-19 (Disease)—Patients; Facility—Hospital; Health Services; Illinois; Military Service; News Coverage--COVID-19 (Disease); Pandemic; United States

Subjects: Coronavirus infections—Diagnosis; COVID-19 (Disease); COVID-19 (Disease)--Health aspects; COVID-19 (Disease)--Safety measures; COVID-19 (Disease)—Patients; COVID-19 (Disease)—Transmission; COVID-19 (Disease)—Treatment; Quarantine--United States; Social Interaction--United States; Spanish language—Usage

16:17 - Family: COVID --Family Death

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Segment Synopsis: Alicia thinks her oldest son contracted the virus because he started showing symptoms, but he was never tested due to the small amount of testing that was available at the beginning of the pandemic. However, her youngest did, and his test came back positive. She believes she passed the virus onto him because they both reside in Alicia’s home. His symptoms were mild: he only lost his smell and taste temporarily.

Alicia then talks about her brother, Simón Zamudio, 34, who was a sergeant in the army, stationed in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He took their mom to the hospital to get tested for COVID. He got the tested as well and came back positive although he felt healthy. Shortly after he started feeling sick, tired and had a fever. His symptoms worsened rapidly which made his wife take him to the hospital. He was released because, “his oxygen level was good”. The day after, Alicia realized noticed he could hardly speak to her over the phone. That night he went back to the hospital where he died shortly after. Alicia emphasizes he should not have been released from the hospital.

When Simón took their mom to the hospital they were told had coronavirus and she would stay in the hospital as a precaution because she was diabetic and was in high risk. Five days later, she was intubated and put on a ventilator. She was 70 years old and never found out her son, Simón, also contracted coronavirus. They both died. “Losing two family members only two days apart. (…) It's something that nobody wants to go through,” Alicia said.


Keywords: Coronavirus; COVID-19 (Disease); COVID-19 (Disease)—Patients; COVID—Testing; family loss; Illinois; Pandemic; United States

Subjects: Coronavirus infections—Diagnosis; COVID-19 (Disease); COVID-19 (Disease)--Health aspects; COVID-19 (Disease)--Safety measures; COVID-19 (Disease)—Patients; COVID-19 (Disease)—Transmission; COVID-19 (Disease)—Treatment; Quarantine--United States; Social Interaction--United States

26:17 - Social Changes in the Community

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Segment Synopsis: Alicia, who is a Jehovah witness, talks about how COVID has impacted her religious community which can’t get together and preach which was a very important aspect of her life pre-COVID. The virus has also limited her social interactions. Since March, she hasn’t interacted with her neighbors or her community. She just waves at them from a distance when she sees them. She does not know if they have suffered losses due to COVID but states that the virus has definitely impacted the community.

In her household, they avoid going out as much as possible. They limit the shopping trips and take stress-generating precautions. She says they live with the fear of knowing they can get sick at anytime and by any means. “It is very, very concerning,” she said.

Alicia tells her children they must wear masks all the time and wash their hands as much as they can. Her family is doing things like wearing gloves even when they go for gas. Alicia is scared: “It's very scary for me to think that anybody else of my family can contract it. And it's something I don't want to go through again,” she said.

Keywords: . COVID-19 (Disease)—Patients; Coronavirus; COVID-19 (Disease); Facility—Hospital; Health Services; Illinois; Jehovah Witness; Military Service; News Coverage--COVID-19 (Disease); Pandemic; United States

Subjects: Coronavirus infections—Diagnosis; COVID-19 (Disease); COVID-19 (Disease)--Health aspects; COVID-19 (Disease)--Safety measures; COVID-19 (Disease)—Patients; COVID-19 (Disease)—Transmission; COVID-19 (Disease)—Treatment; Quarantine--United States; Social Interaction--United States