“It’s not a hoax.
“It is a big deal.
“You should do everything in your power to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
Jay Halterman is slowly recovering from COVID-19, the disease that has caused a world-wide pandemic and has killed nearly 600 West Virginians. He cringes when he hears people say COVID is “no big deal” or “it’s a hoax.”
Halterman, a Moorefield native and well-known musician, contracted COVID at the end of September and spent more than two weeks in the hospital.
“I was in the ICU all but the last two days,” he said. “When I went into the hospital, my oxygen level was in the mid-high 60s. Not good.
“I developed pneumonia. They gave me an oxygen tube with 60 liters per minute. If that hadn’t worked, I would have been on a ventilator.”
Halterman contracted COVID playing music with his band at the Front Royal Moose. His band, Sons of Liberty, played on Saturday, Sept. 25. The following Wednesday, their lead singer tested positive. Halterman took a test on Friday and got the positive results on Tuesday. The lead guitar player and the drummer also tested positive.
“The lead singer was in the hospital for two days,” Halterman said. “Our drummer was sick, but didn’t need to go to the hospital. Both the drummer and the lead singer are still experiencing fatigue. The lead guitar player tested positive, but didn’t have any symptoms
“It really affects different people in different ways. You just never know how it’s going to affect you until you get it.”
Everyone, with the exception of three people, who attended the event at the Moose Lodge tested positive for COVID.
“The weird part about that is everyone wore a mask until they got to their tables,” Halterman said. “You couldn’t dance inside, but they opened the doors so people could hear the music outside and could dance outside. They tried to take precautions. I wore a mask the whole time I wasn’t singing.
“It just goes to show, you can take precautions and still get it. Nothing is 100 percent.”
Throughout the spring and summer, Halterman said he wore a mask and gloves when he went shopping. He has Type II diabetes and smoked.
“The doctor said my diabetes didn’t have anything to do with my getting COVID,” he said. “It is a totally respiratory disease.”
Halterman is still on oxygen at home, although his doctor is weaning him off. He only uses it when he gets short of breath.
“Some days just walking from the bedroom to the kitchen wears me out,” he said. “But other times, like yesterday, I hardly used it at all.”
He spends his day doing lung exercises, and checks his breathing capacity every hour.
Halterman worked for the Jefferson County School System as a substitute janitor and cook. He took a leave of absence last year to take care of his 90-year-old mother.
He was a substitute so he could set his work schedule around his music.
“We were supposed to open for a number of people over the summer at Jiffy Lube Live,” he said. “We were scheduled to open for the Zach Brown Band, Nickelback and Stone Temple Pilots and a show that featured Sammy Hagar, Whitesnake and Night Ranger. They’ve all been cancelled.
“I was also booked to do my solo show at the Mullins in Moorefield once a month. That’s been cancelled, too.”
Halterman said he worries about permanent lung damage, but is trying to stay positive.
I’ll still play music,” he said. “I don’t sing much in the band, but I guess this puts a nix on my solo career. I’ll just have to wait and see.
Halterman said he wants to tell people this is not a hoax, it is a serious, deadly disease and people should take every precaution to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“Wearing a mask is such a simple thing,” he said. “It’s not government control. It’s not political. It is a public health issue. People who think it’s the government telling them what to do are the reason things get shut down.”
Halterman last played in Moorefield at the Town Park on July 4. He stopped by WalMart on his way home.
“Hardly anyone was wearing a mask,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to get out of there.”
He can’t say enough about the doctors, nurses and therapists on the front lines, caring for people who are sick.
“We need to show our appreciation for the health care workers,” he said. “Those people are angels. I got wonderful care at WVU Medicine. No matter how much they get paid, it’s not enough.”
Halterman also said we should pay attention to the experts.
“From Dr. Faucci (Immunologist with the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) to Bill Ours (Administrator of the Hardy County Health Department), they are the people we should listen to. Bill has been trying to get the word out and has been doing a really good job. We need to start listening to them and following their guidelines.
“When I got out of the ICU after two weeks, I thought I was pretty lucky. Some of the people had been in there for months. You could be lucky and recover quickly. Or you could be one of the people who are not so lucky. Why would you want to take the chance?”