News & Features

Pandemic Portraits

Residents share their diverse experiences with COVID-19: four days in the hospital hooked up to oxygen, the anxiety of a positive test, lingering symptoms, impacts on employment and family, an ICU nurse on the front lines and more

People who contract COVID-19 can have vastly different experiences: mild or no symptoms to severe illness.

While we hear and read that a lot, we don’t always have an opportunity to hear directly from those who have navigated that broad spectrum. Nor do we always consider the other factors at play, beyond straight symptomatology, such as anxiety over wondering if you’ve infected loved ones, or the logistics of isolating in your own home, or the toll the disease takes on a fitness enthusiast who is suddenly sidelined for weeks.

In this series of profiles, we try to present a variety of different perspectives from Flathead Valley residents who have been diagnosed with the disease, from relatively mild cases to scary bouts that required hospitalization. We also get to hear from an ICU nurse who has had a front-row seat to the harrowing process of keeping extremely ill patients alive in the local COVID-19 unit.

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James Haring, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in late September, sits in Depot Park in Kalispell on Oct. 15, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

‘You Don’t Want to Go Through What I Went Through’

By Myers Reece

For James Haring, an evening out led to four days in the hospital’s COVID unit hooked up to oxygen and intravenous Remdesivir.

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Activities Director and Assistant Principal Mark Dennehy on the football field at Glacier High School on Oct. 16, 2020. Dennehy contracted COVID-19 in July. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

A Fitness Enthusiast Activities Director Gets Sidelined

By Micah Drew

Glacier High School Activities Director Mark Dennehy and his family were laid up with symptoms over the summer, while the fatigue lingered for weeks.

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Sarah Johnson, an ICU nurse in the COVID-19 unit at Kalispell Regional Healthcare, on Oct. 16, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Nurse in COVID Unit Describes Both Stress and Hope Amid Tragedy

By Myers Reece

Sarah Johnson is heartened by the gallant selflessness of front-line medical professionals among rising hospitalizations and staff shortages.

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Kalispell school resource officer Justin Turner in the alley behind the Kalispell City Police Department on Oct. 16, 2020. Turner contracted COVID-19 in August. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Kalispell Cop Was in ‘Pure Agony’ During Depths of COVID-19 Illness

By Andy Viano

Justin Turner isolated from his family when he returned from an out-of-state work trip and navigated an array of symptoms.

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Bethany Shehan, a math teacher at Linderman Education Center, is pictured at her school in Kalispell on Oct. 16, 2020. Shehan contracted COVID-19 in September. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Teacher Navigates Mental, Physical Fallout After Diagnosis

By Andy Viano

Bethany Shehan warns that potentially exposing others to deadly virus is “not a good feeling.”

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