Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
Jill Tatz and her husband, Alan, want to make it perfectly clear: They are not sick, did not have COVID-19 and to this day remain coronavirus free.
Now, most people might be thinking, “OK, good for you, but why is it important that we know this?”
A front page story in the Sunday Albuquerque Journal, told the saga of a local couple, identified with the pseudonyms Jill and Alan, who tested positive for the virus after returning from a visit to New York. The story chronicled the physical and psychological challenges they faced fighting off serious symptoms associated with the illness.
Even though it was clearly stated in the story that the couple were given pseudonyms to protect their identities, Jill and Alan Tatz of Albuquerque received a barrage of phone calls starting Sunday morning from friends and neighbors, concerned that they were ill.
As coincidences go, this was “too close to home,” said Jill Tatz, noting that many of the descriptions and situations attributed to the anonymous Jill and Alan could be confused with the real Jill and Alan.
“I hadn’t seen the story yet, and people were calling and saying, ‘Oh my God, you’re on the front page of the Journal in a story about coronavirus.'”
“I said, ‘What are you talking about? We’re not sick.’ So I got a Journal and started reading it and thought this is incredible because it sounds so much like us.”
Like the anonymous couple in the story, “we are both in our late 60s,” the highest risk age group for contracting the virus, Jill said.
Also like the couple in the story, Jill said she had recently returned from “an out-out of state visit, though it wasn’t to New York” – where she is from. She, too, was traveling with a family member, but not her husband.
Adding to the confusion is that the couple in the Journal story said they maintained regular contact with the New Mexico Department of Health, while the real Alan is a health care worker for the Indian Health Service.
Finally, the same spelling of her husband’s first name was used in the Journal story instead of any of the numerous alternative spellings, she noted.
Jill said she and her husband are well known for their advocacy work in the disabilities community and for their work with Special Olympics, having two adult children with disabilities living at home. She was also the former director of a preschool. and an adjunct faculty member at the University of New Mexico and Central New Mexico Community College. Consequently, they have a large network of friends – many of whom they heard from.
“It’s all a very odd coincidence, but we just want to get the word out,” Jill said. “We are not sick, do not have the virus right now, and would like to keep it that way – knock on wood.”