Woman in quarantine upset about the ‘low risk’ message from the county health department

  • Friend of patient confirmed positive test in an Atascadero resident
  • Patient and up to a dozen of her friends are under quarantine
  • Source of information is under quarantine; her husband in same household is not
  • Source is testing temperature twice daily; if temperature rises above 99 degrees, she will be tested for COVID-19 immediately

ATASCADERO — On Monday, March 16, a local resident contacted The Atascadero News and confirmed that the first case of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County was, in fact, an Atascadero resident and under quarantine in Atascadero and that she and others were under quarantine as a result of contact.

The source is a friend of the person who tested positive for COVID-19, spent time with her over the past week, and is also under quarantine since Saturday, March 14. Due to the facts of the situation, and sensitivities of the source, we agreed not to expose her name and will call her “Corina.” She will remain under quarantine until March 28.

Here is what Corina told The Atascadero News:

Corina is quarantined in her two-bedroom house with her husband, not in Atascadero. Neither are showing symptoms of COVID-19, and the husband is not under quarantine. Corina’s exposure left her frightened and upset that she could have carried the coronavirus to a family member without even knowing it.

“My friend [who tested positive for COVID-19] was in my house, and we ate lunch together and shared a cookie,” Corina said, “then I went and visited my 87-year-old mother in law.”

Corina also stated concern over her experience with the contact at San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department.

“I have been sleeping with my husband for the past few days [before being quarantined on Saturday],” Corina said, “and [the contact from the County] said it was OK as long as I’m not exhibiting symptoms, but the World Health Organization states that you can be contagious for a couple of days before showing any signs. So, I asked, ‘what about my husband?’ And she said ‘it is OK, he can go to work.’”

While it is known that the novel coronavirus can be carried from one person to another without the carrier exhibiting symptoms, Corina said she came in contact with [her friend who tested positive for COVID-19], who was showing symptoms already but shrugged off the signs.

“We have mutual friends, and the story was that she was feeling sick on Monday and was here with me on Tuesday,” Corina said. “She was listening to FOX News, and they were saying it is a hoax, so she was going about life as usual. At one point, I think we even switched wine glasses.”

On Friday, March 13, the SLO County Public Health Department declared a state of emergency and announced that three cases of COVID-19 were confirmedone in North SLO County and two in South SLO County.

In quarantine, Corina said she is taking all the precautions she can, but that her husband still has to go to work after taking two days off. The county health department did not quarantine the husband.

“I have been sleeping on the couch the past three nights,” Corina said. “We still live in a small house, and there is only so much social distancing you can do.”

Although she over 60 years old, she feels confident she will weather any illness and that she is prepared at home to hunker down.

“I was born and bred in California, so I always have a couple weeks of food,” Corina said. “I saw this coming. I have toilet paper and disinfectant wipes. I am washing my hands whenever I touch anything.”

Her motivation for reaching out to The Atascadero News was to combat the message that people in the community are at low risk, claiming that she came in contact with the person who tested positive without being the wiser, and others were put at risk.

“I would be surprised if there are less than 10 people who are quarantined from just that one person,” Corina said.

Corina said her friend had recently returned from the Sacramento area, and was “out and about” in Atascadero before testing positive.

“The person who exposed me was at the [Pub Crawl] in Atascadero,” Corina said. “That is why I am so mad about the downplaying of it, because nobody knows what is going on or who has it, and now I’m stuck in quarantine.”

Now under quarantine, Corina is taking her temperature twice per day and said if her temperature rises above 99 degrees that she will receive testing immediately by the county, and they are also looking for congestion, headache, sneezing, sore throat, and trouble breathing.

“It doesn’t matter that it is my friend that this happened to,” Corina said. “It could be your neighbor, the person sitting next to you. The point is to stay home, flatten the curve. We need to stop this.”

The Atascadero News has not spoken with the person who tested positive for COVID-19. The City of Atascadero is holding a special meeting today to vote on whether to declare the existence of a local emergency. This article has been updated to clarify “Corina’s” statements.

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