Local News

'So much we don't know,' says wife of Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools employee hospitalized with coronavirus

Posted April 22, 2020 4:42 p.m. EDT
Updated April 23, 2020 5:15 p.m. EDT

— Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools Transportation Operations Manager Jonathan Norris is fighting for his life against COVID-19.

School system officials aren't naming Norris. But his wife Jennifer has been posting regular updates online since Norris was admitted to the hospital April 13 and placed on a ventilator.

"Every night, I would watch the news and just be heartbroken by hearing other people’s stories. But I didn’t think it would ever get to us," Jennifer Norris told WRAL News.

When her husband of 20 years started showing symptoms, Jennifer Norris said, they went to urgent care.

"He was loaded into an ambulance to take to UNC (Hospitals), and I told him I loved him, and that was the last I have seen him in person," she said.

Jennifer Norris and her son have been isolating themselves since Jon's diagnosis, but neither is ill. Nor have either been tested for the novel coronavirus, but she agrees with the state guidelines that preserve tests for those who really need them.

Norris had worked on the school meals program before he became ill, but system officials said last week he was not involved in preparing or handling food.

Jennifer Norris said her husband was being cautious at home and at work.

"He would tell me they had their gloves and their masks and really worked on the distancing," she said.

CHCSS officials announced Wednesday that three other district employees have also tested positive. They say none of the three were involved in food preparation or handling, either, but wouldn't say what area they worked in.

However, the district announced Wednesday it's changing how it's distributing meals to students.

Instead of using school buses to transport the meals from two food-preparation hubs to 35 distribution points where volunteers would pick up and deliver them, CHCSS spokesman Jeff Nash said volunteers will now come to the two hubs to pick up the meals and distribute them.

"We realized that we’re over-staffed as far as volunteers and the number of people we had at each site," Nash said. "We quickly realized we don’t need that many."

"We want to do everything possible to keep the meals program going," Nash told WRAL News. "We know that our families depend on it, and it’s working really well, and there’s no reason for us at this point to stop it."

Meanwhile, Jennifer Norris waits for news that her husband can come home.

"He is slowly improving," she said. "What I’m learning from his doctors is that no patient is like any other, and so works for one doesn’t necessarily work the other.

"We have to be patient. And that’s really, really hard for everyone. There’s just so much that we don’t know."

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