Delaware County health official: Avoiding family spread of coronavirus not easy

JIM FISCHER
editorial@thisweeknews.com
ThisWeek group

Delaware County health commissioner Shelia Hiddleson says there's only so much a family can do once the COVID-19 coronavirus enters a home with multiple residents.

When Lewis Center resident Emily DePaul's son, Marc Gil, became sick with COVID-19, DePaul said she took measures to attempt to keep the virus from spreading among her and her other children, including wearing masks indoor and isolating Marc in one room.

Although privacy issues prevented her from addressing the experiences of DePaul's family directly, Hiddleson confirmed the measures they took to try to minimize the spread can be effective.

"A confirmed or presumed positive is in what we call isolation, and family members, until also confirmed or presumed positive, are in quarantine," Hiddleson said. "We tell people to do their best to stay apart, to limit or eliminate time spent in common areas of the house, wear masks, wash hands.

"But not everybody can always do all of those things."

She said households are an obvious part of any contact-tracing efforts, and that even family members who do not present symptoms are subject to quarantine if they have been in contact with someone in the household who has tested positive.

"Even if you were to get tested and are negative, that does not negate the quarantine," which is 14 days from after the last ill person tests negative and stops displaying symptoms, Hiddleson said.

Resources are available through the Delaware General Health District for families in quarantine and/or isolation, she said, including grocery pickup and delivery, provision of thermometers to families who don't have them, and regular check-ins by her staff.

"Our goal is to help them be successful in staying in their home," Hiddleson said.

While cases in Delaware County were on a downward trend in mid-August, Hiddleson said the largest increase in cases is among those ages 20-29.

"It's most often groups not from the same household" that contribute to spread among younger people, she said.

Hiddleson said she understands the need for interaction, for people to see people.

"If people do want to see their friends and family, they should socially distance, meet outside and wear a mask," she said. "Also, don't have a bunch of these meetings all in the same day, but instead limit your interactions in any short time period."

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