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Elderly couple finds a way to celebrate 72nd wedding anniversary despite coronavirus (COVID-19)

Many people are dealing with changes in their daily life due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

A West Michigan man didn’t let the virus stop him from celebrating his big day. He got creative to spend his wedding anniversary with his wife.

Hester and Alden Barkel of Allegan County tied the knot 72 years ago. On a Sunny Wednesday, the 92 year olds celebrated their anniversary. Even though it wasn’t quite the way they planned.

Alzheimer’s necessitated Hester Barkel’s move to American House Senior Living in Holland Township about a year ago.

“We had a real good life, all our life. Had a few problems with health once in awhile, but otherwise -- it’s been a real good life,” Alden Barkel said.

Two weeks ago, precautions over coronavirus prevented Alden from making his two daily visits. Once early in the day, then back for supper.

“It’s been a pretty tough year now, especially when I can’t go see her,” Alden Barkel said.

The couple met to celebrate their anniversary with a glass barrier between them. They spoke through a cellphone.

The couple started out as friends. That friendship grew into love and a marriage that produced three daughters, seven grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.

Coronavirus may not last forever, but what Hester and Alden have will.

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.


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