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CMS Board Member: We Were Careful But Virus Reached Our Home

jennifer_de_la_jara_swearing_in.jpg
ANN DOSS HELMS
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WFAE
Jennifer De La Jara joined the board in December 2019. Her husband, Jorge, and their children joined her swearing-in.

At the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board’s last in-person meeting to talk about coronavirus responses, at-large member Jennifer De La Jara was absent. She now says that was because COVID-19 had reached her home. 

The first thing she wants to say is that her family didn’t take foolish risks. They stuck close to home as soon as it became clear the coronavirus was reaching the Charlotte area, she says.

But on Tuesday, March 24, her husband, Jorge, woke up with a fever. He got a COVID-19 test that day, but it wasn’t until Sunday that he got official confirmation: He had it.

"We don’t know where he picked up the virus because we had essentially been home for almost a week before he got the fever," De La Jara said. "So I think that’s really important to point out. I think there’s a lot of assumptions out there that people are only getting it when they’re 'breaking the rules' and not socially distancing."

That evening, the school board held an emergency meeting on responses to the pandemic – including a vote to set aside the policy requiring in-person voting. De La Jara stayed home, just in case.

The next day she lost her sense of taste. A loss of smell and/or taste can be an early symptom, but she says she never experienced anything more.

De La Jara says she and her husband hesitated to go public because of the stigma and blame that can accompany a COVID-19 diagnosis. But they decided it’s more important to warn people:

"You just never know where you might get it, even at the 'essential' places that one may think that they need to go," she said. "I think it’s important that we limit those visits outside of the home because it could be picked up anywhere, like a grocery store, for example."

De La Jara considers her family lucky: Her husband has been fever-free for several days and their two children have shown no symptoms. And she’s back with the rest of her colleagues at school board meetings – all of them via Zoom.

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