A Boston-area event photographer is sharing her story as a cautionary tale after she contracted the novel coronavirus at the city’s Biogen conference and unwittingly spread it around Massachusetts for days before getting tested when she fell ill.
Photographer Lara Woolfson is thought to have contracted the virus at Boston’s Biogen conference in late February. According to The Boston Globe, it’s estimated that the conference caused nearly 100 infections, which became the source of “a significant proportion of [Massachusetts’] confirmed cases.” Woolfson was one of those 100.
The event photographer was hired to capture the conference, after which she continued to work for several days at major gatherings throughout Massachusetts, including a large industry event for wedding vendors on March 4th. She began to feel very slightly unwell around March 2nd, but by the time she was contacted by Biogen to say she may have been exposed, it was already March 5th and the damage had already been done.
She didn’t begin to feel properly sick until the day she received the call, at which point she contacted her doctor, got tested at a local ER, and self-quarantined. When the results came back 5 days later, the COVID-19 diagnosis was confirmed.
Speaking to The Boston Globe and Boston 25 News, Woolfson says that the illness itself—which left her “genuinely bedridden” for about 8 days—wasn’t the worst part of the experience. The worst part was getting in touch with all of those who she may have infected, because she had photographed everything “from families to conferences to industry events to headshots” while asymptomatic.
“You know it’s the responsible thing to do, but that was heartbreaking,” Woolfson told the Boston Globe. “I knew how panic-stricken people were, and I didn’t want to add to it.”
Still she did what she felt was right, and now she’s sharing her experience more broadly as a way to encourage others to take this seriously and stay at home. She made it through, she’s said in multiple interviews, and most others will too, but the most important lesson is that “we have to […] come together and do this hard thing. We need to stay indoors. We need to stay apart.”