The nightmare of living quarantined under coronavirus
I find myself trapped at home thanks to the simple act of attending a funeral at my synagogue — and while our quarantine so far is “voluntary,” we all understand it really is not.
For the most part, quarantine means sitting at home, wondering if my wife and I will test positive, too. It means getting up each morning and hoping you have no symptoms, getting dressed with nowhere to go — not work, not morning service at the synagogue, which is closed, too, not even shopping for groceries.
It means my wife, a therapist, cannot see her patients in her office, cannot volunteer at the Northern Westchester Medical Center, or go to her yoga. And it means my daily swim at the YMCA has been replaced by walking in endless circles around my house.
And of course, each day means praying for the recovery of our sick friends.
Quarantine is at once both boring and utterly nerve-racking. We read about contradictory messages coming from the White House and knowing these are the people on whom we are dependent for help does not inspire confidence.
The quarantine was supposed to be over March 8, but it’s been extended until March 14 because of all the additional positive tests, so the wait goes on and on.
Coronavirus is disrupting our entire community. My doctor is beyond reach because he’s a member of the congregation and in quarantine, too. A friend from the congregation dependent on home health care is in quarantine and alone, and we can’t get over to help.
We hear that more people are testing positive but we don’t know who they are. Could they be someone we came in close contact with? Or is it someone we barely know?
Although unspoken, we know that many of our neighbors are probably associating this outbreak with our Jewishness, another episode in a long and tragic history that stretches to the Black Plague. One can’t help but recall all that as we are labeled as the primary community responsible for the coronavirus outbreak in Westchester.
Coronavirus first crept into my life two weeks ago when I video-chatted with a fellow professor in China who self-quarantined out of precaution. A week later, it was my son and his family, who were quarantined when they returned home to Israel from a ski trip in northern Italy. I had thought I was safe thousands of miles away in New Rochelle.
We got into this fix because we’re a community. Ironically, it’s brought us all closer together. Hopefully, we’ll all come out alright, and this, too, will pass.
Samuel Heilman is a professor at Queens College-City University of New York and lives with his wife in New Rochelle, in Westchester County.
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