Wiersma’s warning comes at the ….
Wiersma’s warning comes at the perfect time as cases in Wisconsin have increased at a dizzying and alarming rate.
For the past few weeks each day has brought record numbers of cases, and a state that had nearly 90 percent of all positive cases recovered is now back below 80 percent, with over 1,700 active COVID- 19 cases in Marathon County.
Wiersma says he always took the pandemic seriously, listening to experts and doing his part to socially distance and be proactive with his health.
“I always took it as something serious because my father has had a collapsed lung in the past,” Wiersma says. “I tried to stay up to date on the news and I knew that both my parents were at a higher risk. So I decided to follow every precaution that I could to ensure they wouldn’t get sick from it.”
Wiersma says he wore a mask even before Gov. Evers’ mask mandate went into effect in August, and he made sure to listen to recommendations from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert in infectious disease.
“I wore a mask prior to the mandate because of watching the news and listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recommendation. I felt that wearing a mask was a good idea,” he said. “Since he’s the nation’s top doctor on infectious disease I felt it was a good idea to listen to him and follow his guidance on how to stay safe.”
But despite his best efforts, Wiersma found himself becoming the first of his family to contract the virus back in early July, while working at Welcome Dairy, a dairy processing plant.
Wiersma worked for Welcome Dairy from early June until mid-July and was laid off after testing positive. But he says there were talks that someone he had previously worked with tested positive.
“We trusted Welcome Dairy to tell us if we had come in contact with someone who was positive, and as far as I know, they did their best, but you can catch it in under 15 minutes. Me getting tested at all was my decision. I remember I woke up on a Friday, and I didn’t feel well.”
Wiersma is young and has always been active, performing in the Colby Coalition show choir and participating in track and field. But even he struggled for several days with COVID-19.
But as the weeks went on, and cases in the state dwindled, he says his family grew lax with their precautions, and after his sister Sarah came back from a wedding, the rest of his family caught the virus.
He says that’s part of the problem with residents in the state — they either don’t take it seriously, or they just don’t care. Worse, he says people are making this about politics instead of science.
“I think it’s kind of ridiculous, some people who are only in politics are trying to correct not only a doctor, but our nation’s top doctor in infectious disease,” Wiersma says about attacks on Dr. Fauci.
“It doesn’t make sense to me that someone would rather follow a politicians’ guidance and not a real doctor’s advice. If there’s ever something wrong with our own bodies, we go to a doctor and we ask what’s going on. We don’t go to our neighbor and say ‘Hey, what do you think?’” With COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations continuing to rise, and without a viable vaccine just yet, Wiersma urges others to do whatever they can to protect those who might be at risk.
Wiersma’s family has successfully recovered from the virus, but it was a harrowing experience, and after nearly losing his father to the disease, Wiersma says people can and should be doing a lot more, from wearing masks to avoiding large gatherings and keeping their social circles small.
Above all, Zach wants people to know that COVID-19 can strike anyone and does not care about your money, your family or any of your personal opinions. “I think people here could be doing more. You walk into Kwik Trip or County Market, and you’ll see a lot of people who don’t have their masks on and it seems like a pretty simple thing to just wear a mask,” Wiersma says.
“Wearing a mask shouldn’t be politics based — it should be looking out for your neighbor,” he said. “The coronavirus doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat or anything — it’s a very serious disease that can infect anyone.”