The announcement came last Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 23, in a post on Facebook. Friends and supporters of Ruby Corado usually look forward to reading her Facebook postings about her ongoing projects in support of the LGBTQ community, especially transgender women of color.
But this time it was different and it generated an immediate outpouring of concern and support.
“OMG! I tested Positive For COVID 19 Today! People Said ‘Don’t Say Nothing.’ But Even Though I Might be Asymptomatic, I Refuse To Be Stigmatized for This, please pray for Me!”
Corado, the founder and executive director of D.C.’s LGBTQ community services center Casa Ruby, posted a series of short follow-up messages on Facebook sharing her thoughts as she disclosed experiencing some COVID-related symptoms.
“Sense of Smell Gone,” she posted one day later on Sept. 24. “Keep me in Your prayers!” The next day on Friday, Sept. 25, Corado wrote, “Took a walk to the kitchen and Honey You Would Have Thought That I Run Another Marathon! Going back to bed!”
Earlier that day Corado spoke with the Washington Blade, saying she wanted to inform the LGBTQ community and anyone who would listen that the COVID-19 pandemic should be taken seriously and those directly impacted by it should be supported and treated with respect.
She said since the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak became known earlier this year all Casa Ruby employees and clients have been tested for COVID-19 every two weeks. She said social distancing and the wearing of masks have been followed in accordance with the recommendations of the D.C. Department of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She said she tested negative less than two weeks earlier but requested another test from her doctor during an unrelated visit to look into sharp pain she was having in her knees. She learned of the positive test result two days later through a phone call from the doctor’s office.
“At the end of the day I came out because I have already seen a trend of people shaming people with COVID – like they’re not careful, like they’re people who just don’t care,” Corado told the Blade. “And the reality is no one took more care of myself than me, and it still happened,” she said. “I have been wearing a 95 mask from the beginning because I have supporters who gave them to me. And it still happened.”
Corado was referring to what is known as the N95 face mask, a mask initially designed for healthcare professionals and first responders that provides an airtight seal fit that filters out tiny particles such as bacteria and viruses to a greater degree than ordinary cloth masks.
“So at the end of the day that doesn’t matter because we are living in a time of COVID and it could happen to anyone, even when you are very careful like I have been,” Corado said. “That’s why I thought it was important for me to come out and say it because believe it or not I have received almost a dozen calls and messages from people who said ‘I had it.’”
“And it was like they were afraid to even say something,” she said. “I have had people who messaged me and offered help and were just being very helpful,” Corado continued. “But a lot of people said don’t say nothing, it’s going to hurt your name,” she said. “I don’t want to do that. I want people to know this is real and when someone gets it, it does not mean that they were not careful.”
Corado said she is under the care of a physician at Whitman-Walker Health and is hopeful that the symptoms she currently has encountered will quickly subside.
“The fact is that I have it,” she said. “I want to utilize my spirituality to know that I will be OK. And if I’m not – I do think about it and worry about it. We have some great things coming up at Casa Ruby this year, including our pharmacy,” she said. “We’re doing great things. And I don’t know if people will support the organization if I’m not here. And that worries me.”
Added Corado, “But I also have to stay in good spirits. I worry. But you know, I’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.”