Coronavirus patient: Screw your quarantine, pal

Coronavirus patient: Screw your quarantine, pal

New Hampshire’s first confirmed coronavirus patient was discovered recently and as has been happening in many places around the country, the hospital worker was told to stay home and remain isolated for 14 days. Seems like a solid plan, right? Perhaps not so much. We’ve now learned that there was some sort of “invitation only” event on Friday that the patient really wanted to attend. So they did. Without telling anyone.

Now the original patient is supposedly back home and in self-quarantine, but so are all of the event attendees who came in “close contact” with them. How many people each of them came in close contact with before being quarantined remains unknown. (NBC Boston)

New Hampshire’s first coronavirus patient, a hospital employee, went to an event tied to Dartmouth business school on Friday despite being told to stay isolated, officials say, and all others who went to the event are now being told to stay isolated.

The announcement on Tuesday came as state health officials said a second person in the state is presumed to have the new coronavirus, COVID-19. That person was in close contact with the first patient, and the officials expect more coronavirus cases may be found as they investigate.

The second, presumed patient is a man, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, which didn’t provide additional details or say exactly where he came into contact with the first patient.

I’ve pretty much given up on asking whether or not we learned anything from the Ebola outbreak back in 2014 because we’ve obviously learned nothing. A self-quarantine solution only works if every single person involved goes along with it. If you have ten infected people and nine of them stay in isolation, the one person who refuses can infect ten more people in no time flat. And if somebody is going around to events and shaking hands, coughing or whatever, the other people there have no reason to suspect there’s a potential pandemic in their midst and they return home or to work none the wiser.

How do we know this is always going to happen? Because it always happens. Let’s take a short stroll down memory lane for a moment and remember a young lady named Kaci Hickox from Maine. She’s a nurse who was overseas treating people with Ebola in 2014. When she returned home, her flight arrived in New Jersey and she was ordered to go into quarantine while doctors figured out what to do. How did she respond? She sued the Governor and threatened to just leave anyway, claiming that mandatory quarantines were cruel and inhuman.

Hickox flew the coup and went back to Maine where she was supposed to be staying inside her home. But she was soon seen out bicycling around the neighborhood. That cause the state government in Maine to move to make her home quarantine mandatory. So she threatened a fresh round of lawsuits.

And keep in mind that we’re talking about a nurse. A nurse who literally worked with Ebola patients. If anyone should have known better it was her, but she just flipped everyone the bird and did as she pleased. And now we’re seeing the same pattern in New Hampshire. I’m still holding out hope that this virus remains non-lethal for the vast majority of infected persons. If so, it may yet just wash over the country with most people never even needing to go to the hospital and leave the population with native immunity. But if this thing morphs into Captain Trips, our chance at containing it is probably already lost. And self-quarantines aren’t going to be the answer.

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