This entry of our COVID Diaries project comes from our fourth horn, Jill Boaz, who has played in the orchestra since 1990. Jill describes her experience taking a temporary job as a contact tracer for the Indiana State Department of Health while trying to keep up her playing during the pandemic:
I live alone with my two dogs so the first six months of the pandemic were very challenging, however, starting in September 2020 I trained and became a contact tracer for the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). All of the work was performed remotely from my home on equipment supplied by the ISDH. I contacted people by phone as a part of the Indiana Contact Tracing Call Center.
Contact tracing was hard work. Not everyone was happy to hear from us. We only called people who had positive test results and sometimes that person had not been informed yet that they had tested positive. About halfway through my ISDH tenure we also started scheduling vaccination appointments for people who wanted them. The work was very gratifying when I was able to reach people who wanted help and extremely frustrating when people didn’t want help.
Staying in some sort of shape on the horn was very important to me. My ISDH shift started at 11:30 am and lasted until 8 pm every Tuesday through Saturday, so every day I got up at 6 am to practice, walk the dogs, and do 30 minutes on the treadmill before starting work. I think I only missed a few days of practice during the year.
I was off on Sundays and Mondays so I made sure to schedule phone calls, Zoom or FaceTime with my three best friends on Sundays. I am very grateful for them.
The Indiana Contact Tracing Call Center is open 8 am to 8 pm, 365 days a year. During the eight months of my employment I worked every week with only an occasional day off other than my two days off per week. I had no vacation time off and worked Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, and New Years Day.
Still, I am so glad I had the job, as it gave me money and structure at a time when both were scarce.
Getting back to play with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has been fantastic. It has been hard to get my “stage chops” back after so many months off, but the ISO is playing with so much heart. It has been awe-inspiring!
Thanks for sharing your experiences, Jill, and we look forward to playing with you more as we get back to normal!