In quarantine, juggling isolation and the need to run errands for survival

Elna Bicar of Teaneck, N.J.: ‘It was the right decision.’

By Lindy Rosales

People Under Quarantine. They are the unwilling martyrs in the global health emergency resulting from the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus. I spoke with two of them and learned of their dilemma while being in a state of self-containment.

Elna Bicar of Teaneck, New Jersey, went into self-quarantine heeding the call of Teaneck Mayor Mohammed Hameeduddin on March 14 urging all residents to restrict their movements. The call was made by the mayor when the corona virus cases rose to 18, the highest total in Bergen County at that time. While the quarantine was not a mandatory order, she thought it best to comply to “practice safety, stay in the house if you don’t have to go out.”

A retired Registered Nurse, Elna has been listening to the TV for updates about the corona virus, anticipating with dread that sooner or later it could hit close to home.

“I think the mayor made the right decision to encourage its 40,000 residents to observe voluntary quarantine,” she said when interviewed by The FilAm.

She said she had a bad feeling when she started hearing about cases being reported on TV and in newspapers. Her gut feel told her to be prepared for the worst.

“I started to fill up our pantry with food, other goods and medicines,” she said.

As the government response increased in urgency, she was ready. Her son is home as the schools have closed and shifted to online classes. She is thankful her family is okay. But she continues to worry about her daughter and son-in-law who are both registered nurses. They still use public transportation as they continue to work in their respective hospitals. “They are at the frontline of this battle. Bless them for their dedication as Florence Nightingales,” she said.

Her advice to others: “Magtulungan tayo para maibsan ang pagkalat ng corona virus.”

Janine Ursua, who lives in Jersey City but works in an office in midtown Manhattan, is another person in self-quarantine. With cases of corona virus infections rising by the day, Janine has stopped using the PATH train to go to work and started taking the bus.

“Talagang pasakit,” she shared.

When in isolation, one can be gripped by panic and worry. Photo:  Unsplash.

On a Thursday last week at around 2:30 p.m., her department received a call: “We need to go, somebody is positive…Now. Right away.”

As she recalled, “There was panic in the entire building. I had to go up and see the supply officer, get a mask and hand sanitizer.”

Everybody who works in the building was sent home and advised to go into self-quarantine for 14 days after a co-worker tested positive for the virus. Her other co-workers were already out of the building. She was one of the last ones out as she had to call her family, explained the situation, told them she was on her way home while she checked her office for any office materials she might need to bring home. Her family had to clean everything in the house, spray and sanitize. Luckily, her sister-in-law was visiting at that time.

At first, Janine tried to confine herself in a room, but it was such a challenge with a 4-year-old and a 10-year-old in the house. She ended up isolating her mother-in-law instead who is 87 years old. Her husband continued to go to work while her sister-in-law decided to stay with them in the house. One time she had to go to the grocery store for food shopping. She stayed in the car while her sister-in-law got the groceries.

She was on her eighth day of self-quarantine as of the time of our interview. She had no cough, no fever and monitored her temperature every day which averaged 97 to 98 degrees daily. She continues to take supplements and vitamins. Her manager calls their group daily as some kind of roll call as all of them are on self-quarantine. Her other colleagues have not shown any symptoms.

Unfortunately, she is in possession of the company emergency cellphone and continued to take calls as they come. It was supposed to be a two-week rotation to hold the company emergency phone but she’s had it for three weeks due to the quarantine. She and co-workers are expected to come out of isolation on March 27, unless the city locks down or whatever external circumstances arise. She was feeling anxious as she heard some people get their symptoms late. She has done her own research and constantly checks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for updates. She is aware of the symptoms, who to contact if she ever needs help, and has the important numbers saved on her phone.

A word of advice from Janine:  “It doesn’t hurt to follow if you are asked to quarantine even if you don’t feel anything, but you are concerned for others who might be vulnerable. The situation is getting out of hand. We have to do our part.”

© The FilAm 2020

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