Through all the news and statistics, it can be easy to forget the personal toll the COVID-19 virus has had on people in our region and throughout the nation.

A good case in point is Dave Bender, who suffered at least two and maybe three bouts of the infection.

Bender, who owned RetroRaagz, antique store in Stanfield, received his first positive test for COVID-19 in July 2020 and a second one in Hermiston. Before that, he fell ill in December 2019 with a illness that mimicked all of the symptoms of the virus.

Catching the virus twice is rare, according to health officials, and a third infection is almost unheard of. Bender rented a storefront in Stanfield for his new antique business. He acquired an inventory and planned to open in late 2019. Yet the virus created a barrier to opening his new store. He would feel better and then get sick again. He did open the store on request and he tried to find success with sidewalk sales. He used the internet as well but none of his measures brought in the cash he needed to stay afloat. He applied for the Small Business Assistance COVID-19 Disaster Relief loan and small grants.

The federal money was denied and that left Bender in a tough situation. Now he is in the final stages of closing his shop for good.

It is no doubt a tale of woe but Bender’s story is also one that helps shine a light on the deep impact the virus has on people. Thousands of people end up in the hospital because of the virus, but thousands more are affected in other ways like Bender. Some people become COVID-19 “long-haulers,” those still suffered debilitating side affects from the virus months or years after the were first struck down by the infection.

The toll from the virus medically is usually well known. Daily reports of overfilling hospitals and deaths continue to dominate the news cycle, but there are thousands more people who face the after effects of the disease every day.

Bender’s story is a good example of how a disease can touch a life in ways that are unforeseen yet impactful. We must not forget those who suffered — or are still suffering — from the impact of the virus yet may not be in a hospital. Before the final tally on this pandemic is written, there will surely be many more people who will be impacted in ways like Bender. That is very unfortunate.

We must not forget them.

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