Erika Crisp said she had been doing everything right. She had been staying home, wearing masks, and social distancing. But, once her state started to open up, the 40-year-old healthcare worker from Jacksonville, Florida decided to go out with friends, to a pub, for the first time in months. And during that one outing, she and 15 of her friends contracted COVID-19.
"We've all been stuck indoors for months just being careful, social distancing, doing everything the right way," she told News4Jax. "And then the first night we go out... Murphy's Law, I guess."
Erika and her friends went out to Lynch's Irish Pub in Jacksonville on June 6. Since then, Erika started experiencing shortness of breath. She has been sick for eight days, and now, she and 15 of her friends have all tested positive for COVID-19.
She told the station that she and her friends were not wearing masks when they went out, something she now regrets. "I think we were careless and went out into a public place when we should not have," she said.
"And we were not wearing masks. I think we had a whole, 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality. The state opens back up and said everybody was fine, so we took advantage of that," she continues.
Since Lynch's Irish Pub learned that some of its customers tested positive for the coronavirus, the general manager, Keith Doherty, voluntarily shut it down over the weekend for the whole place to be scrubbed clean.
"We can't guarantee that people aren't going to get sick because of the nature of this virus, but we're going to keep on top of what we can do to prevent this," he said. Forty-nine of the pub's employees got tested; seven tests came back positive, and those staff members are now in isolation.
Doherty has decided to reopen the pub with extra safety measures, like hand sanitizing stations, employees wearing masks, and everyone — employees and patrons — will have to get their temperature checked at the door.
As other restaurants and bars in the area learned of Erika's story, they also began re-closing their establishments. BuzzFeed News reports that, since Erika went public with her story, 20 other people she doesn't know who had also gone to Lynch's have messaged her to say they've also tested positive for COVID-19.
"It literally spread like wildfire," Doherty said. Erika, who's now sick with the coronavirus, says her story should be seen as a lesson for everyone.
"We should be wearing masks. We should be social distancing. It was too soon to open everything back up," she said. Still, Lynch's has since reopened, albeit with stricter protective measures in place.
It's become clear that just because the state or local government says it's OK to open up, in reality, COVID-19 hasn't gone anywhere. We should all continue to wear masks, stay socially distant, and stay home when possible.