In a post on Facebook, local resident Anne Hinze shared an email that she sent to Dr. Karen Chapman, Director at the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County.
According to Hinze, she sent the email to ask Dr. Chapman a question about contact tracing within the classroom setting.
“I wanted to clarify the time out of class required for a student who was a contact or who themselves may have been a positive case and what that would mean for classmates and siblings and their family members”, Hinze wrote.
Below is her question to Dr. Chapman:
“I will use my own family as an example. I have a student in elementary school, middle school, and collegiate high school. If my middle Schooler was exposed to COVID-19 and had to come home for 10 to 14 days, will my children who share a house and bedroom also have to come home and quarantine? If they are quarantining and/or isolating, would this exponentially reach the students who are in their classrooms as well at the other schools? Would they also need to quarantine? I’m sure you can see how this could essentially shut down the entire district.”
Dr. Chapman’s response is below:
Get The Coast did reach out to the Florida Department of Health in Okaloosa County and confirmed that the email is from Dr. Chapman.
“Contact investigation can be very complicated for COVID-19. I can assure you, though, that contacts of contacts do not need to quarantine. In your example below, if your middle schooler was exposed to COVID-19 by a case in the classroom, only that child will need to quarantine for 14 days from last exposure to the case. You, your husband and other children would be considered contacts of a contact and would not need to quarantine. But, if it was your middle schooler who was the case, the situation becomes more complicated for the family members living in the house.”
“If a case can’t isolate out of the home (which is not possible for a child and for many adults), we give the following guidance:”
- The case must isolate at home.
- The case can return to work/school once at least 10 days have passed from the onset of illness; there is no fever for at least 3 days without taking fever-reducing medication, AND respiratory symptoms have greatly improved or resolved.
- The household contacts of a case, would need to immediately quarantine at home while the case is sick.
- However, their official 14-day quarantine period begins once the case in the home is cleared.
Dr. Chapman then gives a real-world example:
“So lets say your middle schooler had symptoms of COVID-19 on July 20. You took your child to the doctor and a diagnostic test for COVID-19 was done and the results came back positive on July 23. Since onset of symptoms was on July 20, this child has another 7 days of isolation as long as the other criteria in the first bullet are met. So this child could be cleared to go back to school on August 1.”
“August 1 would then become the first day of the 14-day quarantine for the rest of the members of your family. The rest of the family members would be cleared of quarantine, if no illness developed. They would be cleared to go resume usual life, go back work or school on August 15. So the family members are out of commission from July 23 through August 14.”
“The contacts of your unaffected children or you and your husband would not need to quarantine. They are contacts to contacts. Only if one of you got sick from exposure to your middle schooler, would we identify and quarantine that individuals contacts.As you can see, it will be very impactful to children and parent’s lives.”
“Right now Okaloosa’s infection rate is above one and is at two. That means that each case is infecting at least two other people. To contain this pandemic we need to get to a place where each case infects 1 or fewer people. Only then will the pandemic stop escalating. My reading of the guidelines that I saw were close to correct but I don’t think they fully conveyed the impact of the disruption to parents.”
“Just as an aside, because I don’t expect people not in my field to know this: isolation is the term we use for someone who is sick; quarantine is the term we use for someone who is not sick but has been in close contact to the agent. Even if we get the pandemic under control with the vast majority of the population wearing masks, that will not mean people can stop wearing masks in public. We won’t be able to stop wearing mask in public until there is a vaccine that has created herd immunity in at least 70% of the population.”
Tomorrow, Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners will hear from Dr. Chapman who is expected to officially make a request from the county for $2.2 Million.
This money, according to the Department of Health, which is a separate entity from Okaloosa County, will go toward fighting coronavirus.
The budget request funds:
- 20 call center staff
- 2 call center team leads
- 2 IT support staff
- 22 Registered Nurses
- 6 health educators
- 10 contact tracers
- 7 data clerks.