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Marion Wickerd was on the treadmill in her Palmdale garage when the phone started ringing. It rang once, and then again.
Probably a telemarketer, she thought. There had been a lot of those lately, and she had already spoken to her husband, Tommy Wickerd, who is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, that morning.
So she powered on with her workout, speed-walking to a Netflix movie as the sky darkened through the open garage door.
But then it rang a third time. “My gosh, somebody must really want to reach me,” she remembered thinking, as she very nearly took a nasty spill jumping off the still-moving treadmill to reach the phone before it stopped ringing.
It was Tommy, again.
“I just tested positive, I have COVID,” he told her as she struggled to catch her breath. He was, at least at the time, asymptomatic, but said the men around him “were dropping like flies.”