OGDEN — As the number of COVID-19 cases in Weber County rises, those who become infected can face a dilemma — finding a place to recover without spreading the ailment to others.
Amy Carter, communicable disease and epidemiology nursing supervisor for the Weber-Morgan Health Department, has worked with families in such circumstances, wrestling with what to do. And there are options.
“People have reported temporarily moving to the camper in the driveway, moving to the basement or guest room of the home temporarily,” she said. “Some have reporting going to a hotel to isolate/quarantine temporarily. If these kinds of options are available to families, wonderful.”
Still, sometimes such options aren’t available and it becomes a matter of making the best of a tough situation. Even then, though, those who are sick can take precautions inside their homes, another prong in efforts to try to get a handle on COVID-19 as the cases continue to rise and rise and rise.
“Taking responsibility as families and individuals to follow the recommended precautions are the best tools we have at this time in slowing the spread of illness within our communities, reducing hospitalizations or death, and keeping our families healthy until a stronger tool such as a vaccine becomes available,” Carter said.
The number of new COVID-19 cases in Weber and Morgan counties for the week ending last Saturday reached 1,474, representing the ninth consecutive rise in the number of weekly cases, according to Weber-Morgan Health Department data. That plus the new cases since then brought the cumulative number of cases in the two counties since last March to 11,444 as of Friday. Statewide, there were 4,588 new cases reported Friday — a daily record high — bringing the cumulative statewide total to 170,584, according to Utah Department of Health figures.
The ongoing rise in cases is having an impact across the socio-economic spectrum. Weber County advocates who work with the homeless have created a facility at Lantern House, the Ogden homeless shelter, to serve those without a place to stay who come down with COVID-19. “We are the identified Q and I facility for Weber County, quarantine and isolation,” said Lauren Navidomskis, the Lantern House director.
A 96-bed wing of the facility has been set aside for COVID-19 patients and, as of Friday, Navidomskis said it was about 20% full. The site was designated the go-to place for the homeless with COVID-19 after an outbreak at the facility last month. Forty-eight people at Lantern House tested positive, officials reported on Oct. 30, though Navidomskis said that number has since fallen as some have recovered.
The location was picked because of its size, staffing, availability of food and the ability to isolate a wing for COVID-19 patients, according to Navidomskis. To make way for the COVID-19 patients, other accommodations outside the Lantern House facility have been identified for homeless families and homeless women without the ailment, who had used the space.
“The majority of our cases have been without symptoms to mild symptoms, but we have had a few who have been very sick,” Navidomskis said.
Elsewhere, the Best Western Plus High Country Inn off Interstate 15 in Marriott-Slaterville has created space for those who want to isolate because they’re suffering from COVID-19 or have to quarantine but don’t have anywhere to go. The hotel, which, like many, has suffered from a downturn in business brought on by the pandemic, has had a few takers, mainly people who had contact with the COVID-19 virus and need a place to quarantine.
Many others have called inquiring about the offering, said Jennifer McBride, manager of the hotel at 1335 W. 1200 South. The curious include some companies looking for a place where their employees can stay to remain COVID-19-free while other family members recover from the ailment.
The rooms set aside for those with COVID-19 or in quarantine are at the end of a wing that can be isolated from the rest of the hotel. The hotel would use a contactless check-in procedure. The rooms used, once vacated, would be left untouched for a week to let any lingering COVID-19 virus remnants die. “Anything that may have been contaminated, we let that rest for a week,” McBride said.
For those in homes with COVID-19 patients, Carter offers a few pieces of advice:
- Put those who are sick in a separate room and/or have them use a separate bathroom if possible.
- Frequently clean high-touch areas like countertops, doorknobs and light switches.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Don’t share personal items like silverware, drinking cups and remote controls, among other things.
Isolation in some households may be difficult, Carter said, but even so, she recommends that those sick with COVID-19 maintain a distance of 6 feet or more from others. When that isn’t possible, the patient and any others in close contact should all use face coverings.
Those who get COVID-19 should isolate for at least 10 days, waiting until 24 hours after their symptoms have gone, Carter said. Those exposed to COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days from the time they were exposed.