Seven Days data editor Andrea Suozzo working from home
Day one of my self-quarantine was unplanned. On my way home on Monday from a National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting conference in New Orleans, I'd discussed with my bosses whether I should avoid the Seven Days office for a while out of an abundance of coronavirus caution. But we figured I was probably fine, and I planned to return to work as usual the next day.
But Tuesday morning, I woke up with a vaguely sore throat and a headache. I took my temperature (No fever!) and decided that, just in case, I should work from home. I sorted through conference notes, went for a short run and checked a few overdue tasks off of my to-do list.
That evening, a post in a conference-related channel on the Slack app caught my attention: An attendee had just tested positive for COVID-19.
Suddenly, the Vermont Department of Health coronavirus test numbers I'd been monitoring for days seemed a lot less like lines on a page and a lot more human.
Since I wasn’t feeling great, I got on the phone immediately. As I called my doctor's office, my husband called the Vermont Department of Health. It was after business hours, but a department staffer answered the phone anyway and suggested that I call my doctor — and the state’s 211 information line.
A staffer at my physician’s office told me not to come in. It was late in the evening, but the person told me I could try the University of Vermont Medical Center or the Walk-In Care Center on the Fanny Allen Campus. When I phoned the latter, a recorded message warned me to stay away if I suspected I had COVID-19.
At that point, I didn’t even want to be tested. I’d already passed along the message to work: I absolutely did not want to be the patient zero of Burlington, so I would be self-quarantining for the next two weeks.
Still, I had other questions. Should my husband, who hadn't attended the conference, work from home as well? My symptoms were cold-like, but what if I were to develop a fever? Who should I contact if I did require testing? Was there anybody who needed to know that I might have been exposed?
I called 211. The woman on the other end of the line picked up on my mild panic, apologized that I was having trouble finding answers, and promised to coordinate with the Department of Health to find me some information.
Wednesday morning, I got a call back. The directive: Call your doctor. Turns out that your primary care provider is the person who would work with the health department to arrange testing, if necessary.
So once again, I called my doctor’s office. A worker gave me a call back a few hours later to review my symptoms and to discuss the potential points of contact I had with the virus at the conference.
After a solid night of sleep, my cold symptoms had mostly subsided and I was feeling much better. I was told I should continue working from home for the time being, monitor any changes in my symptoms, get lots of rest and wash my hands a lot. If anything were to change, I was told, the office might advise that I get tested.
In the meantime, my husband, a lawyer, decided to self-quarantine along with me since he could do most of his work from home.
We’re both relatively young and in good health. But if I am contagious and have infected him, we don’t want to go about life as usual, potentially passing COVID-19 to others who may have compromised immune systems or be more at risk from the virus. Self-quarantine seemed like the right thing to do.
So for now, we’ll cancel all social commitments in the next few weeks, hydrate, get lots of sleep and try to keep our stress levels low. (Obsessively checking Twitter, it turns out, does not help.)
And hey, at least one of member of the household is thrilled about getting to nap on the couch all day:
Rusty prepares to nap
Symptoms of COVID-19
You may start experiencing symptoms between two and 14 days after exposure. They can include: