EVERETT — Stuck at home, people in quarantine during the coronavirus outbreak are filling their days with work, household chores and a lot of Netflix, county health officials say.
On occasion, they make special requests.
One man, for example, craved Panda Express.
“We understand the difficult time it is to stay home and not be able to go anywhere for 14 days,” said Nancy Furness, director of Prevention Services for the Snohomish Health District. “That would be challenging for anyone. If we can help make them comfortable with some treats to help them with that time at home, we do that.”
To be placed in quarantine, a person has to have had direct contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. For 14 days, they are asked to stay in their homes, waiting to see if they experience flu-like symptoms.
That’s the case for 20 to 24 Snohomish County residents of all ages, Furness said. In addition to them, the county is monitoring more than 75 people who may have been exposed to a COVID-19 case.
“We are following up on everyone we can identify as having a known or potential risk,” she said.
In some cases, one family member is in quarantine and the rest are not.
That’s because only one person has had direct contact with someone with the disease, Furness said.
If the exposed family member tests positive for COVID-19 the rest would be placed in quarantine.
“That is the situation that we’re dealing with,” she said. “It’s one of the difficult aspects of quarantine. The families have to figure out how to best handle it.”
Furness said she hadn’t heard of any case in the county where a person in quarantine spread the disease to family members.
The total number of people who have been placed in quarantine since the outbreak hit the county wasn’t available. A majority of those previously under quarantine have completed the 14-day stint and been cleared.
Throughout the 14 days, people forced to stay home rely on family, friends or the health district to deliver groceries, medications and other supplies.
Volunteers from the county’s Medical Reserve Corps visit homes where people need assistance about three times during the 14-day period to leave sacks of groceries or packages at the front door.
If a quarantined person requires at-home medical care for other health issues, the county will meet those needs, Furness said.
The visits don’t occur on a routine schedule, Furness said.
They come sporadically throughout the weeks and at different times of day. That’s partially to make sure people are staying in quarantine, she said, though there haven’t been any incidents of breaking quarantine so far.
“I think people recognize the gravity of the situation,” she said. “We try to stress the importance of staying home and staying safe. For the most part, people really want to do what is right.”
Health district workers have followed the same procedures for other diseases, Furness said.
“One thing the community might not realize, when we have someone with active tuberculosis, they can’t be out in public until they’ve taken enough medicine that they aren’t contagious,” she said. “This new situation and quarantine is a little unusual for us, but many of the same practices and procedures are things we do routinely for other individuals.”
The health district recommends avoiding large groups and washing hands properly.
If you are or have been in quarantine in relation to COVID-19, a Herald reporter would like to talk to you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.