My Covid-19 Story — Visible and Invisible Despair

“I shouldn’t even be out and about. My demographic is the most at risk, but I couldn’t miss the chance to see everyone,” said a good friend and fellow climate activist at a happy hour in Annapolis. A good friend whose words echoed in my mind whenever I began lightly coughing on my drive home. 

“See you tomorrow,”  Mike Tidwell, CCAN’s Executive Director, said as we bumped fists goodbye. A gesture that I thought about as I lay in bed hoping to escape the chest pains by sleeping.

“We’re here for you,” rang a cacophony of voices from friends, family, and co-workers as I read the word across my screen: POSITIVE.

How it started

The first symptom manifested as a slightly annoying dry cough the evening of March 9th as I left a happy hour in Annapolis. This cough was quickly followed up by a fever and sore throat. “Is this it,” I thought to myself as I googled COVID 19 symptoms for the 5th time the next day. 

The next week was a whirlwind of google searches, news articles, and sweating through every article of clothing I had as the fever worsened and my breathing became harder. The symptoms kept building up to the point that simply walking to the bathroom in my small 1 bedroom D.C. apartment felt like an Olympic feat.

Eventually, after a virtual visit with my primary care doctor, I was able to secure an appointment to get tested. I was terrified of the very real possibility that I have the Novel Coronavirus. Terrified that I would join the rapidly increasing number of positive cases in D.C., the United States, and around the world. 

Being Negative About The Positive


Reading the word made it real – and it freaking sucked.

I immediately notified my co-workers of the results. They had already begun taking precautions around the workplace. Limiting face-to-face meetings, disinfecting workplaces, allowing staff to work from home. But this news required additional precautions: Notification of building management that someone was exhibiting symptoms and an order for all staff to work from home for the duration of this crisis.

CCAN couldn’t risk the possible transmission of the virus within the office. But, with all those precautions, all they could do was hold their breath and wait to see if they too began exhibiting symptoms. This was the case for dozens of my friends and colleagues who I had met within the previous weeks. Who knows when and where I contracted the virus and who I may have exposed. 

This positive diagnosis did not weigh on me for my own sake, but because of the fear that I put dozens in danger. I was like a barrel of toxic radiation and for all I knew I had been harming people for days before I noticed the symptoms. 

Corrosive Thoughts

By now I am sure everyone knows about the physical symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus: 

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

However, dealing with being COVID positive while also living in this crazy new world of social distancing and cosplaying as your favorite Mad Max character just to go to the store, there was a lot of mental weight as well:

  • Guilt. The guilt of possibly infecting others was ever-present. There was the guilt of knowing that in spite of how bad I felt, there were thousands dealing with this crisis while not having access to health care, a stable income, or a means of feeding themselves and their families.
  • Despair. Then there were the thoughts of uselessness. The crippling feeling of being worthless in your everyday life, unable to leave to go to the store or check the mail. Feeling useless while your co-workers continue on to fight the good fight while I struggle to sit up without coughing out a lung. 

I know I am not alone in feeling this way. Many have even reported feeling “Survivor’s Guilt” after recovering. I can certainly understand that too.

But we are not forever bound by these corrosive thoughts. This crisis, this virus, cannot last forever.

Taking a Deep Breath

About a month after COVID-19 decided to pay me a visit, I finally started feeling better. I could YAWN without it being interrupted by a two-minute coughing fit. I wasn’t afraid of switching positions while I was asleep and waking up choking and gasping for air. I could go a day (don’t shame me) without showering because I was no longer sweating profusely throughout the day due to a high fever. I even moved into a new house in Takoma Park!

I was finally starting to feel like myself.

Though, I would be lying if I said I was excited to get back to work.

My Second First Day

So that last sentence was more so for dramatic effect, but for real, I was extremely nervous. Getting back to work felt like my first day all over again. The CCAN staff had been weathering this storm and steering the ship through this crisis for a month without me. Would I even remember how to work? How would the others react to me having been gone for so long and would they think of me as that guy that got away without working for a few weeks?  What even is a “climate”?

CCAN is a special place. I was lucky enough to have the full support of the CCAN staff, even getting a care package of toilet paper delivered to me from our General Counsel, Anne Havemann.

As cheesy as it sounds, we are a family. More importantly, we are passionate about protecting the climate. We have a job to do. And unfortunately, the climate crisis isn’t on pause.

Even through the worst of times.

That is not to say individuals cannot take their time. There is nothing more important than ensuring your own stability. It just means that, no matter what, when you’re ready to rock n’ roll again, a spot is always open. 

Continuing the Fight

The fight never stops.

We find ourselves in a moment in time where millions are income insecure, our food supply chains are failing, and Maryland is in desperate need of a plan to deal with both the fallout from the covid-19 pandemic and the ever-present climate crisis. One part of that plan needs to be providing well paying and stable jobs for Marylanders,now and into the future.

With over 300,000 thousand Marylanders now having filed for unemployment benefits, we will soon need to create many new jobs for a sustainable new economy. And we have the opportunity to rebuild a new, CLEAN AND HEALTHY economy with renewable energy. Yet our clean energy industry has taken a hit. There are more than 40 utility-scale solar projects and two major offshore wind projects in danger of being held up in Maryland in part by the slow pace and misguided regulatory focus of the state’s Public Service Commission.

One thing you can do right now is sign this petition calling on the PSC to not delay clean energy in Maryland any longer. But that’s not the end, far from it. We’re going to keep fighting for clean energy. Because our health depends on it.

Thousands of Virginians, Scores of National Groups Tell Dominion CEO and Shareholders to Abandon Atlantic Coast Pipeline

More than 4000 residents sign petitions; 78 groups sign on to full-page ad calling on Dominion shareholders to abandon controversial pipeline

RICHMOND, VA — Today, as Dominion Energy meets virtually for its annual shareholder meeting, an unprecedented coalition of advocacy organizations and Virginia residents have sent a message to shareholders and board members, calling on the utility monopoly to abandon its plans to build the highly controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). 

A coalition of 78 prominent advocacy organizations from Virginia and across the country signed onto a letter that will be displayed in a full-page Richmond Times-Dispatch ad and a half-page Washington Post ad on May 6, the day of Dominion Energy’s annual shareholder meeting. The ad, addressed to shareholders, states: “New legislation and legal challenges have rendered the completion of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline unrealistic.” The letter points to the pipeline’s $8 billion price tag, eight missing permits necessary for construction, and the fact that Dominion recently informed state regulators that “significant build-out of natural gas generation facilities is not currently viable” under the state’s new law requiring Dominion to achieve 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. 

A law signed last month by Governor Northam, HB 167, significantly raises the threshold for Dominion to pass any of the cost of the ACP onto ratepayers. In order to recover costs from Virginians as planned, Dominion must now prove a need for the energy the pipeline would supply in Virginia and that the pipeline was the lowest-cost way to produce that energy.

Additionally, two petitions garnering nearly 4,000 signatures were delivered to Dominion executives and shareholders today. With one petition, over 2200 Virginia residents called on Dominion CEO Tom Farrell to walk away from the pipeline “for the financial health of the company.” Another petition gathered over 1800 signatures to tell Dominion shareholders that the pipeline “no longer makes economic sense, even based on Dominion Energy’s own logic,” and that “continuing to pursue this project is fiscally irresponsible.” 


“Dominion Energy’s stubborn push to continue building the Atlantic Coast Pipeline despite ballooning costs, legal and permitting challenges, and a seismic shift in Virginia’s energy landscape betrays its duty to shareholders,” said Brennan Gilmore, Executive Director of Clean Virginia. “The responsible thing — for Virginians and shareholders alike — is for Dominion to shutter the project before another tree is felled.”

“After the coronavirus, the last thing we need is another crisis at our doorstep,” said Harrison Wallace, Virginia Director at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “If built, the pipeline would be a disaster for both the economy and public health. And now that the economic case is stronger than ever, it’s time to end this dangerous project once and for all.”

“Our normal way of life because of the pandemic is not even close to returning. Factor this together with the economic uncertainties and the harmful impacts to the health and welfare of many elderly, low income and majority African Americans in the proposed compressor station neighborhood of  Union Hill, and you have something that is absolutely unjustified,” said Chad Oba, President Friends of Buckingham.

“Recent research shows that higher levels of air pollution increase the risk of death and hospitalization from COVID-19. Increasing toxic emissions takes us on the wrong path, placing Virginians at increased risk from the current pandemic as well as from other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases” Samantha Ahdoot, MD, Chair of Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action.

The letter to Dominion shareholders was signed by the following organizations: Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, Alliance for Affordable Energy, Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Appalachian Voices, Berks Gas Truth, Better Path Coalition, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Bold Alliance, Bold Iowa, Bridging The Gap In Virginia, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Center for Sustainable Economy, Charlottesville Democratic Socialists of America, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Clean Virginia, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley, Climate Disobedience Center, Climate Hawks Vote, Coalition for Smarter Growth, Divest RVA Earth Action Inc, Earthworks, ENOUGH is ENOUGH Preserve VA, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, First Alliance Consulting LLC, Food & Water Action, Friends of Buckingham, Friends of Nelson, Friends of the Earth, Green New Deal VA, Greenpeace USA, Hip Hop Caucus, Indigenous Environmental Network, Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, La ColectiVa, Lancaster Against Pipelines, League of Women Voters of Virginia, Lebanon Pipeline Awareness, Marcellus Outreach Butler, Mothers Out Front VA, Movement Rights, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (anti-nuclear), Oil Change International, Our Revolution Alexandria, Piedmont Environmental Council, Preserve Giles County, Property Rights and Pipeline Center, Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection, Reclaim Augusta, Richard Freeman Allan, Richmond For All, Rockbridge Area Conservation Council (RACC), Rockfish Valley Investments, LLC, Scenic Virginia,, Sustainable Energy & Economy Network, Sustainable Roanoke, Together We Will Henrico, United Parents Against Lead & Other Environmental Hazards (UPAL), Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action, Virginia Community Rights Network, Virginia Conservation Network, Virginia Democracy Forward (VADF), Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, Virginia Justice Democrats, Virginia League of Conservation Voters, Virginia Network for Democracy and Environmental Rights, Virginia Organizing, Wild Virginia, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International, Yogaville Environmental Solutions, Shenandoah Riverkeeper, Center For Sustainable Communities, 350 Alexandria, 350 Fairfax, 350 Loudoun,

Denise Robbins, Communications Director, CCAN, 240-630-1889
Cassady Craighill, Communications Director, Clean Virginia, 828-817-3328