Stillwater COVID-19 risk

Both working in the medical profession in Stillwater, Karen Webster (left) and Frances Patterson sent 10-year-old Parker Patterson to live with friends to avoid the risk of exposing him to the coronavirus. Courtesy

Correction: This story originally misidentified Karen Webster's place of employment. The story has been corrected.


At least two patients came to a Stillwater urgent care last week with fevers, fatigue and dry coughs, triggering COVID-19 protocols and sending Karen Webster home worried that night.

To minimize the risk of exposing others to the coronavirus, the patients had returned to their cars, where doctors and nurses donned protective gear to evaluate them in the parking lot. But Webster, a physician assistant at Stillwater Medical Center Urgent Care, knew more potential COVID-19 patients would be coming in the days and weeks ahead.

Her partner, Frances Patterson, meanwhile, works as a nurse at Stillwater Medical Center, where she would inevitably be around COVID-19 patients, too.

“We talked that night about the risk of one us bringing the virus home sooner or later,” Webster said. “And we agreed that we had to do something to protect our son.”

Last weekend, Webster packed clothes for 10-year-old Parker Patterson and sent him to live with a baby sitter. She won’t go near him for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t know how long it will be,” she said. “The more people stay home, the sooner this will be over.”

Medical professionals face significant risk of contracting the highly contagious disease, according to a recent study in the journal Occupational Medicine.

In one hospital in Wuhan, China, where the virus first spread to humans late last year, 29% of patients were medical professionals who apparently contracted the disease from their patients, according to the study.

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Michael Overall

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