Life on hold for Valley senior awaiting coronavirus vaccine

Posted at 4:38 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-14 22:15:52-04

PHOENIX — More people are back to work, but for many Arizonans, life is nowhere near normal.

That is especially true for senior citizens, a group that has been hard hit by the worst of COVID-19.

Sun Lakes resident, Patricia Johnson, says she takes all the precautions she can to keep herself safe, which means not doing something she truly loves: traveling.

Retired for 12 years, she's spent a big chunk of that time in the air, and on the road. On the day of our interview, she and one of her daughters were supposed to be in Europe.

"Prague, Budapest in Vienna," she said. "And I was planning the whole trip we were going by train between cities."

The coronavirus pandemic has also derailed Pat's plans to see her family.

"I usually go to Texas, to visit my daughter and son-in-law, grandkids four times a year, and I've got those staged out. And then they always come here at Christmas."

But Christmas, like so many other things this year, will be on Zoom.

Just another restriction Johnson says she'll have to accept because she doesn't yet believe that it's safe for her to travel and she isn't sure when it will be.

"I would like to see our leaders try to give us a better idea of where it's safe to do and what it's not safe to do," Johnson said.

As someone in a high-risk age group with underlying conditions, the 72-year-old says she wants more clarity from leaders.

"We've been getting different--advice changes over time, and I can understand that as they learn- the scientists--as they learn more about it, but I really would like to see our federal government and our state governments develop plans together," she said.

In the meantime, Johnson says the ongoing pandemic is forcing her to make plans of her own, just in case.

"I thought, what happens if I end up getting the coronavirus and I end up going to the hospital, I needed, I knew I needed to make sure that my daughters had my current documents, and knew what my wishes were, in case of--if my health deteriorated badly," Johnson said.

She says she won't be truly comfortable traveling until a vaccine is available. Until then she'll spend her mornings riding her new bike around her Sun Lakes neighborhood, and her days playing Zoom charades with grandkids, and finding different ways to connect with people.

"You have to consistently watch yourself so that it's not getting to you too much. And you have to find ways to deal with it whether it's to-- you've got to call your friends. I try and like call a friend every day," she said.