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Max Roth: When COVID came close to home, I realized I still had questions

Posted at 6:26 PM, Sep 18, 2020

In the story above, you'll find some simple answers to questions thousands of people are asking today because they have had contact with one of the several thousand people who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week. Epidemiologist Annie George with the Salt Lake County Health Department answers my questions.

When my wife and I learned our son's good friend had tested positive, our first concern was for his friend, a kid who's spent a lot of time with or family and who we care about.

It sounds like after a high fever and cough for a couple of days, he's improving.

Our next worry, our son. He hasn't had any symptoms and he's pretty healthy, so we're hopeful.

Our son's biggest worry? My parents. His Grammy and Papa. They come over for breakfast on our deck on Sundays. Socially distanced, wearing masks when not eating. They're probably fine. But I was proud that his concern was so clearly for them.

Then Natalie and I wondered what we were supposed to do. We knew our son would need to quarantine, but we had to educate ourselves about what that meant.

We also wondered about our other son and ourselves. We realized we really didn't know what we were supposed to do, even though she's a health professional (a clinical psychologist) and I'm swimming in COVID-19 stories every day.

So here are the basics: Close contacts, like our son, are "first generation" and they do quarantine for 14 days. That's what my son will do. That means he stays home from school and work. He stays distanced from us and much as possible and only goes out if he must (think a doctor's visit, but not the store). He'll get tested a week from his last contact with his friend, because the virus can take time before showing up as an infection.

The rest of us in the family are "second generation." We go about life as we did before (we've been careful to follow guidelines). If our son tests positive, then we quarantine.

The state Department of Health has put together two videos explaining isolation and quarantine. Click here to view.