Shannon Shaw Duty: 'Quarantine adventures'

Shannon Shaw Duty, editor of Osage News. (Photo by Ryan RedCorn, Osage)

Shannon Shaw Duty

Perspective: The editor of Osage News tested positive for the novel coronavirus and shares her COVID-19 experience

August 14, 2020: First day of quarantine

Jason and the kids’ tests came back negative, but we know it may be too early to tell. We’ve all been quarantined anyway so that’s what we’re gonna do. I’m quarantined until Aug. 24 and the rest of the family is Sept. 4. So we’re definitely housebound until then. The Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center gave us good masks, thermometers, and instructions on how to quarantine properly. Everyone was extremely nice and helpful.

The kids are all in and they have been doing their part to get their laundry together — our older kids have been disinfecting the house.

I have no idea where I may have contracted the virus. I am still not exhibiting symptoms, except for maybe a slight headache, but I’m praying it won’t get worse. The kids feel great and Jason’s just a bit tired, but that’s expected when you drive cross country for 24 hours. Yep, you read that right. We took off for Breckenridge, Colorado, yesterday at 4 a.m. I got a call from the clinic contact tracer around 2:30 p.m. Mountain time.

We were eating lunch by this beautiful lake in Georgetown, Colorado, which is nestled inside the mountains and about 45 minutes from Breckenridge. When we broke the news to the kids, it was just heartbreaking. Luckily, the Airbnb we rented is going to credit us a stay at a future date. So, there is the promise to go back. We had this wonderful vacation planned. We were going to go hiking, maybe rent some canoes, and just be outside in God’s glory, but it wasn’t meant to be. I wore my mask all the way home and slept in it. I forgot I had it on most of the time, to be honest.

Also, on our trip home we got the news about the Cunningham and Bighorse families having lost loved ones. So, maybe it was meant for us to come home.

Needless to say, Jason and I are super tired, having basically driven 24 hours on the road. We left at 4:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, and pulled back into our driveway at 4:15 a.m. this morning. It’s all very surreal but we’re going to do our best to keep our family safe and healthy.

I need to work on my book anyway.

Thank you for the well wishes, prayers and words of support from so many of our friends and family. To clear up any rumors, I have not been cast in the upcoming film, “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Although, I am flattered that anyone would think that.

Quarantine adventures begin now. As soon as I take a nap.

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August 15, 2020: Second day of quarantine

I just took my temperature, 98.7. Still feeling good. I do feel like my allergies are coming on, but that’s exactly what it feels like: allergies. I also have a daily cocktail of allergy meds I take, so that helps. I’m also taking my vitamins.

Three of my kids and husband just brought me blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon. I can smell and taste all of it, so that’s good. Actually, it was really good. I’m still in my room, and haven't left since yesterday (except for bathroom breaks). Six people share my upstairs bathroom so when I’m finished, I disinfect everything. I use my homemade disinfectant spray made of 1.5 cups of rubbing alcohol (at least 70 percent in strength, anything less won’t kill the virus), ½ cup water and 15 drops of thyme essential oil. Peppermint also smells good too. I clean with Bounty paper towels in the bathroom because you want to throw that mess away, not stick it in your washing machine. I also clean an Airbnb on the side for extra cash, so I can disinfect an entire toilet in under 2 minutes. I also have a long list of homemade cleaning recipes if you would like them. Just message me on Facebook.

Outside my bedroom door is a small white shelf that I’ve stored my late uncle Allen Shannon’s comic books in, and a few years ago I bought one of those breakfast-in-bed trays so I could bring Jason breakfast (I’m sure my brother Bates is nauseated by this). Jason put that tray on top of the shelves and that’s where my kids place my food and leave. In case you didn’t know, I have six children, five boys and one girl. Ages 16, 14, 13, 12, 9 and 7. They’re all reacting differently to my quarantine, which I find interesting because it’s only the second day. Lol.

When I found out I had tested positive, we were in Colorado beginning our 4-day vacation. After having spoken with the Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center’s contact tracer, they said we could either come home or we could continue on. We would just have to make sure we stayed away from the public and spent our days in the mountains. Trust me, this was very, very tempting, especially since I wasn’t exhibiting any symptoms. However, Jason and I knew we needed to go home. We didn’t want to risk getting anyone sick on the cleaning staff of the Airbnb we were staying in, or the guests staying next.

When we broke the news to the kids that we would be turning around and going home, our four youngest begged to stay. One of them cried. Our 14-year-old resigned to the fact. Our 16-year-old turned to his younger siblings and told them it was irresponsible for us to continue and that we should go home. Jason and I just looked at each other and smiled.

Since we’ve been home our daughter, 14, has been going around disinfecting the house and equal parts staying in her room, which isn’t unusual. Her younger siblings say she’s a vampire and give her a hard time if we ever eat anything that has garlic in it. Our oldest son calls me on the phone if he needs anything. I can hear my 13-year-old say, “I love you momma!” as he passes by the door from time to time. Our 12-year-old hasn’t stopped asking me for permission about everything, which is funny because Jason will yell from downstairs, “You can also ask ME!”

Our 9-year-old will come to the door to ask for permissions as well but is still going about his business as usual. Our 7-year-old is different. He’s already been slumped on the door a couple of times, knocking faintly and saying he misses me. He wants to know why I am sick and that he hates the year 2020. He’ll be 8 years old on Sept. 3, a day before his quarantine ends.

I think the person in the house that is taking it the hardest is my husband. He’s a twin, he has a twin brother and if you have ever been in a relationship with someone that is a twin, I bet you have noticed they’re very dependent. They kind of stick by your side on everything. Yesterday evening, more than once, my husband peeked in the door with his mask on. I would laugh because he was basically just watching me. We do everything together, not because we make each other, but because we’re best friends. He asked if he could continue with the second season of “Umbrella Academy” without me on Netflix. I laughed and said yes.

I actually had time to give myself a pedicure yesterday evening, and I’ve been working on my book off and on. I am currently writing guides for my children about Inlonshka. Paying for the drum. What I can remember from having the drum in my family, both for my younger brother Bates who was Drumkeeper at Grayhorse and my uncle Allen, who was Drumkeeper at Hominy. I’m writing something separate about the customs and traditions of our funerals and what I remember seeing. I’m also interviewing family members over the phone. My book is about my Morrell and Penn families. Who we are, where we come from, how did we come down from Kansas. John Maker gave me the idea. I’ve also been asked to write for an upcoming book about press freedoms in Indian Country and my experience. So, there’s plenty for me to do while I’m in my room stuck in quarantine.


Until tomorrow, signing off from the second-floor bedroom, with the patio, on 12th street in Pawhuska. 

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Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage, is the editor of the Osage News. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s in Journalism and a master’s in Legal Studies, Indigenous Peoples Law. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, with her husband and six children. 

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