Aurora Mayor, Police Leaders Share Their COVID-19 Stories

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The Aurora mayor and two Aurora police leaders shared their firsthand experiences with COVID-19 in a live stream conversation this afternoon.

Mayor Richard C. Irvin, Police Chief Kristen Ziman and Police Commander Keith Cross discussed how the virus impacted them, and the importance of following health and government guidelines to help stop the spread.

In Preparing, They Spread Virus:

Ziman shared how in the midst of meeting to prepare for the pandemic, they may have inadvertently spread the coronavirus amongst themselves.

“In all of us convening together and you know Mayor, we all sat, you know we went to your conference room and then we were in our conference room planning this,” said Ziman. “And you know this was before you know it even started to rise – and in doing that, we all most likely infected one another”

Cross Hit First:

Cross was the first to feel the effects, and the first to test positive. He began feeling ill March 17, after picking up his son from college in New York. His case was the most serious.

“I felt like a truck had hit me. And I was vomiting, I had fever,” he said, adding he had a fierce headache.

He tested negative for the flu. But as he wasn’t in respiratory distress, he couldn’t get tested for COVID-19 at that time. A couple days later he was tested, and got a positive result. His symptoms waned after a few days, but then came back strong.

Severe Symptoms:

“I stopped eating for about four days, I just didn’t have an appetite. I couldn’t sleep for about three days. I had incoherent thoughts – things that I was thinking about I knew weren’t reality but they were still in my mind. And, that was somewhat scary. I was confused,” said Cross, adding, “Even though I had nausea medication that was given to me at the emergency room, I couldn’t shake the nausea feeling. So I just laid in my bed really not being able to do anything for about three or four days.”

Cross has a rare blood deficiency which causes him to grow dehydrated faster than normal. For that reason, he ended up in back the ER.

He’s over the worst of it but still taking a few more days to recover before returning to work.

Milder Case for Ziman:

Chief Ziman had the mildest case. When her symptoms hit, she thought it was just a head cold.

“The day that I found out he (Cross) was positive was actually the morning after that I was down with the fever and with cough,” said Ziman. “But I never got it as bad in my respiratory you know, in my chest. Like I didn’t have trouble breathing – mine was mostly just cough and chills and fever.”

She said she had 10 days of feeling up and down, but feels fortunate she didn’t have as severe a case as others.

Changes In The Job:

She’s now gotten a clean bill of health from the health department and is back on the job – though that job looks a little different. The department has altered their work habits to work from home when they can, alternate who goes into the office, take digital roll call, pause training except when able to be done virtually, and institute 12 hour shifts rather than the usual eight.

Mayor’s Story:

Mayor Irvin was tested on the same day as Chief Ziman, March 21. He’s been through the worst of it, saying, “at one point I felt like I had gone to the edge and was hanging off and kind of had to claw my way back.” He’s now taking a few more days at home to ensure that he’s no longer contagious. He described his bout with the virus.

“I went downhill. I mean I had an extreme headache. You know to the point where I couldn’t even think straight and if I stood up, I would get dizzy,” shared Irvin. “You know and I had incoherent thoughts just like you (Cross) did. I had these night tremors where I was shaking at night.”

He described being so hot that he would soak through his clothes with sweat while he slept, while at the same time his lower extremities were cold. So cold in fact, that he wore gym shoes to bed to keep his feet warm.

Take COVID-19 Seriously:

All three warned of the seriousness of the novel coronavirus, and emphasized the importance of following health officials and government guidance – to practice social distancing, stay at home, wash and sanitize hands frequently, and wear masks to protect others.

Mayor Irvin spoke to the city’s youth, urging them to take this seriously.

“I know a lot of these young kids are looking at this as you know, free time, party, there’s no school, you know, there’s really nothing going on, let’s hang out,” said Irvin. “I need them to recognize that what they do doesn’t just affect them, it affects their families, it affects their mother and father, their grandparents. Older brothers and sisters and even younger brothers and sisters, you know, this virus doesn’t discriminate.”

Stronger at Home:

The three also spoke of how Aurora Strong right now, means Stronger at Home.

“We have to take matters into our own hands and we are absolutely stronger at home because that will make us an even stronger community,” said Ziman.

“We have to do this for each other. And our willingness to do this shows our strength,” added Irvin.


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