AURORA, Colo. — A Colorado nurse who attended a conference with 20,000 strangers in Las Vegas learned on the last day it may have been a superspreader event. She believes the only reason she didn't get sick is because she's vaccinated.
"I am a nurse by trade," said Marissa Baird, the outpatient wound care center manager at The Medical Center of Aurora. "I work in health care and I see people...they're dying."
Few would argue that nursing has been especially difficult lately.
"We're all what I like to call 'COVID tired,'" Baird said.
When she got an opportunity to take a break and head to Las Vegas for a conference earlier this month, she jumped at it.
"We craved a little bit of fun," Baird said. "I went to three concerts. We had a black and white gala."
There's a rule, of course, about travel to Vegas.
"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," she said. "Well, maybe not this time."
In fact, the very thing many in Baird's group traveled to Vegas to get away from came back home with them.
"We came home, and within 24 hours, everybody within my immediate group tested positive for COVID," Baird said.
That group included Baird's roommate at that huge conference in Las Vegas. The conference was not related to health care, but a jewelry event.
"We were wearing masks, but we were in an arena with 20,000 people," she said. "And of the people I was with, the majority of them are unvaccinated."
Baird feels fortunate she did not get sick, which she directly attributes to the vaccine.
"We ate together and drank together," Baird said. "[The vaccine] helped my immunity prevent me from getting it in close quarters with other people."
She's sharing her story because if she wasn't a believer in the vaccine before, she certainly is now.
"People are still getting sick," Baird said. "I feel blessed. I feel blessed to have had access to it very early. I also feel blessed to have the knowledge and comfortability to have done it early on to protect me during these times."
This story was originally published by Russell Haythorn on Scripps station KMGH in Denver.