Rockingham County family self-quarantines after traveler returns from Italy

Published: Mar. 5, 2020 at 4:48 PM EST
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A family in Rockingham County is voluntarily quarantining themselves after a family member returned from traveling in Italy, where more than 3,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed.

Italy is among the nations with the highest numbers of cases in the world at the moment.

James Madison University recently made the call

and canceled the remainder of their study abroad programs on guidance from the State Department and federal health officials.

, at least one JMU student who flew back to the U.S. on Wednesday said she was not screened for the virus when entering the country and wasn't given specific instructions for self-quarantine upon her arrival.

According to a letter sent by Spotswood High School to parents on March 5, the school administration was made aware on Thursday that a family member of a student at the school recently returned from traveling in Italy.

School officials say the information they have received is that there's no indication that the person was exposed to the virus while traveling, the person has shown no signs of illness at all (which is required for CDC guidelines to allow testing for the virus), and the person is following the CDC recommendation of a voluntary 2-week quarantine.

They say the person came into contact with family members, including a Spotswood student, on their way home.

Because of that, the entire family chose to requires all family members who came into direct contact with the traveler to voluntarily quarantine themselves for two weeks.

Before that, however, school administrators say one sibling of the traveler was present at Spotswood for a brief period of time. The student's parents quickly notified the school and had the student return home.

Once Spotswood administrators were made aware of the situation, they contacted the Virginia Department of Health for support. The department cited the following CDC guidelines for how travelers returning home should handle coronavirus concerns:

1. The traveler from a monitored country is recommended to voluntarily quarantine for a period of two weeks;

2. If the traveler is asymptomatic, it is not a requirement for family members or those living with the traveler to voluntarily quarantine themselves;

3. It is recommended that the traveler monitor their health and seek medical assistance if the symptoms of fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath begin; and,

4. All community members should follow healthy habits of washing hands regularly and covering of the mouth when coughing.

The family connected to Spotswood has gone above and beyond those CDC recommendations by having the entire family join the voluntary quarantine process, in addition to the traveler themselves.

"Given our communication with the family and the Virginia Department of Health, we are confident that there is no imminent health risk of the coronavirus at Spotswood High School," said Principal Robert Dansey.

Rockingham County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Oskar Scheikl confirmed the information included in the letter spent by Spotswood's principal.

No cases of the virus have been confirmed in either Virginia or West Virginia. Several suspected cases have been tested and all tests have come back negative.

Globally, more than 50% of the people that have had confirmed cases of the disease have since recovered, but people with pre-existing conditions and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's best to have a plan to prepare and prevent not only you but your entire household from the virus.

Here are some ways they say will be effective in doing that:

• Discuss with household, family and community members, such as neighbors, what to do if a coronavirus outbreak happens in your town and what the needs of each person will be.

• The CDC says though risk factors for severe illness are unclear at this time, older patients and those with medical conditions may be at a higher risk.

• They say most reported cases have happened in adults averaging the age of 59.

• One-third to one-half of reported patients have underlying medical comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension and cardio vascular disease.

• Create a list of local organizations that you can contact if you need further information about the virus or resources.

• Create an emergency contact list.

Officials also say an easy way to prevent a potential spread is covering your mouth or nose when you sneeze or cough with a tissue and disposing of it afterward.

If you or someone you know feels they may have come into contact with the virus, reach out to your local health department.