Importance of social distancing


Local with preexisting condition stresses need to stay home


Will Cross, 14, has suffered with medical challenges since birth, and had one lung surgically removed when he was five years old. Contracting COVID-19 could put him at serious risk.

“Most of us will have mild symptoms and recover, but for some of our citizens, social distancing is a life or death reality,” said Angie Robinson Cross, Will’s mother. “If we have community spread of COVID-19, people like Will could become very sick and die.”

Will has never let his challenges get the best of him.

“He’s probably the only extroverted one in our family,” Angie said. “He loves to meet people, shake hands and give high fives to his friends.”

He’s so unbothered by his challenges that he has run for Fredericksburg Middle School’s cross-country teams, high jumps for the track team and plays basketball for the school. However, he had to stop running after one meet due to respiratory issues.

In recent weeks, due to the coronavirus disease COVID-19 pandemic, Will has had to self-isolate, which has been hard on him.

“I see my friends posting on Instagram, and they’ll text me asking to hang out, but I have to tell them no, which is hard to do,” Will said. “At first, I was mad at my parents for not letting me hang out, but I’m starting to understand it more.”

Will said that after his parents spoke to him more about the virus, he began to see the importance of social distancing.

The virus has also caused his brother, Gabe Cross, a sophomore at Fredericksburg High School, to stop hanging out with his friends.

“If I get it, I would probably be fine, but I don’t want to bring it home and get my brother sick,” Gabe said.

To prevent becoming “stir crazy,” Will said he, his brother and his dad will go out to their newly-built garage to practice woodworking and lift weights. They’ll also visit creeks in more isolated areas and fish.

Angie is especially cognizant of this virus, as he’s been easily infected with other illnesses in the past.

“During the H1N1 flu epidemic, Will contracted it and got very sick,” Angie said. “He’s also gotten whooping cough several years ago, which is unusual for most people.”

Angie and her husband, Joe Cross, have taken several precautions to ensure that if Will does contract COVID-19 and can’t be hospitalized if local facilities were to hit maximum capacity, he could be taken care of at home.

“We’ve bought oxygen tanks, we’ve made sure the medical supplies we’ve had since he was little still work and we’ve stocked up on his medication,” Angie said. “The only things we can’t find are gloves and masks, since they’re sold out at stores.”

Another precaution the family is taking includes having meetings every morning about the virus.

“We don’t want to scare our kids, but we do want to make sure they’re getting the correct information,” Angie said. “It’s important for parents to talk to their kids about it because, with everything on social media, you never know where they could be getting their information.”

Will, Angie and Gabe wanted to stress the importance of social distancing to the community.

“COVID-19 is an opportunity for us to love our neighbors through social distancing,” Angie said. “Many of us consider social distancing an inconvenience and unnecessary because we are not concerned about getting COVID-19.”

Angie posted on Facebook at 9:50 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, about her son’s needs as a way to communicate the importance of this disease to his friends’ parents. By 1:37 p.m. Wednesday, the post had 225 reactions, 144 comments and 59 shares.

Angie didn’t know it would bring so much attention, but she’s glad it did.

“This disease spreads so easily because you can be spreading it for days without even knowing you are sick,” Angie said. “That’s why social distancing is so critical.”