I always thought once you contracted COVID-19 you couldn’t catch it again. Apparently, PGA TOUR golfer Jon Rahm thought the same thing.
We were both wrong.
Rahm had just tapped in a short par putt on the 18th green last Saturday to take a six-stroke lead after 54 holes of the Memorial Tournament. His third-round 9-under 63 gave the fiery Spaniard a tie for the lowest score and the biggest lead after 54 holes at Jack Nicklaus, but he didn’t stick around for Sunday’s final round.
A doctor working with the PGA TOUR stopped Rahm a few steps off the green and gave him crushing news. COVID. Again. And with it came the automatic protocol to withdraw from the tournament.
The possible reoccurrence of the deadly virus likely cost Rahm a tournament victory and a $1.674 first-place check. But if anyone learns from his oversight, it may prove to be the best money he will ever spend.
While most of the country has been going back to the stores, the beach and a sense of normalcy as the coronavirus numbers continue to decline, Rahn unsuspectedly became a wake-up call for everyone. COVID-19 may be going down, but it’s not gone. And until it’s completely eradicated, everyone must remain vigilant.
Smokey Bear has reminded us all since 1944 you have to do more than douse a campfire once to prevent a forest fire. You must stir the ashes and douse it a second time to make sure it’s completely extinguished. COVID requires the same extra precautions.
We’re at the second-dousing stage of the pandemic. We have to finish the job. If we don’t take all of the necessary steps, the virus can flare up again.
“It’s like any communicable disease, it will spread like wildfire if it gets around unvaccinated individuals,” said Heather Huffman, the Health Officer/Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Clay County.
“I know at the beginning people had appointment fatigue. Everybody wanted the vaccination and you couldn’t find an appointment. We had limited supplies. But you can get it anywhere and everywhere now. The message is now, they need to put it on their priority list to get done. This is the time people need to go ahead and schedule their appointments and get their vaccines.”
Because of privacy concerns, it’s not clear whether Rahm previously tested for COVID-19, but as Dr. Tom Hospel informed him of two negative tests on Saturday, the 26-year-old player doubled over and tearfully muttered, “Not again.”
Andy Levinson, PGA TOUR's senior vice president of tournament administration, said, “I can tell you that the fully vaccinated population [of tour players] is north of 50%.” Players who’ve been fully vaccinated don’t have to submit to weekly tests like Rahm.
Rahm is asymptomatic, the TOUR said. Since he tested positive twice within 24 hours, he must remain in isolation until June 15 – two days before the first round of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
For Clay Today, this is a time to ramp up the county’s response. Until COVID-19 is gone, Huffman’s not dropping her guard – especially since there is so much we still don’t know about the virus.
Like believing you can't catch the virus twice.
“It’s absolutely not true,” she said. “We do know you have antibodies. The natural antibodies you get from having COVID have a waning effect. That’s why the vaccinations are so important. That’s why most of them are a two-shot deal because it’s going to create those long-term memory cells for your immunology. That’s why that second does is even more important than the first. We have some people who got the first and maybe they got sick from the first dose. It’s hit or miss whether you have a reaction to the first dose or not, feeling bad or anything. It’s important to get that second shot so you can create those long-term antibodies.”
Once you get the first shot, it’s imperative to get the second.
“The first shot is for your short-term memory. It’s going to remember things for a short period of time when you had it, how to fight it, how to create those antibodies if you come into contact with it again,” Huffman said. “The second shot is where you’re going to create those long-term memory cells that are going to be there. We don’t know the timeframe because we haven’t been in it that far yet. We don’t know if you’re going to need a booster or not.”
We should all learn from Jon Rahm. If you’ve had the virus, you can get it again. If you haven’t been vaccinated, get one.
We may have COVID-19 on the ropes, so let’s go ahead and knock it out.