An Oneida county resident recently traveled back to New York State by airplane. As they approached their final destination of New York the stewardess announced that if you have not already filled out a Traveler Health Form online there would be a paper form to fill out at the airport upon landing.
Once in the airport and exiting the gate there was a table with forms and pens and employees who were asking people to fill out a form. The form asks “Have you been in one of the states or territories designated as having significant community spread?” The answer for this person was a yes.The form also asked for your children’s names. “Do you have symptoms?” The answer was no. “Do you have a place to quarantine for two weeks?” The answer was yes.
They received a telephone call from a NYS Contact Tracer the next day. The Contact Tracer confirmed all of the info on the form. They asked about symptoms, if the traveler had a place to quarantine for two weeks. They asked if the traveler has a separate bathroom and advised the traveler to not share a bathroom with anyone else in the house.After the initial call the traveler switched their contact preferences to only receiving texts.
Every day since then they receive a text “Do you have any symptoms?” Press 1 for yes press 2 for no. The text also told them how many days are left in their quarantine.
Then the mistake happened.
On the second day they received an email from the Oneida County Health Department. There was what looked to be a legal official document with eight Whereas statements. At first seeing all that whereas legal jargon the person’s eyes glazed over and they didn’t realize what was being said.
Another person in the house hold caught the mistake, in the paragraph below, and contacted the county health department.
WHEREAS, the Oneida County Department of Public Health has identified you as living or having recently been living in the same household, being an intimate partner of, or providing or having been providing care in a non-healthcare setting for a person with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection, without using recommended precautions for home care and home isolation, and therefore movement restrictions are appropriate consistent with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance and the NYSDOH guidance and the Governor’s Executive Orders; and
NOW, THEREFORE, by virtue of the authority vested in me by section 2100 of the Public Health Law of the State of New York and 10 NYCRR2.25(f) as Public Health Director of Oneida County, I do hereby: ORDER that, effective upon your receipt of this order, you are hereby directed to travel directly to, if not already located there and remain quarantined at XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX as a result of having been exposed to a communicable disease as defined in 10 NYCRR Section 2.1, specifically 2019-nCoV, consistent with CDC guidance, the NYSDOH guidance and the Executive Orders of the Governor of the State of New York issued during the period March 7, 2020 to present, as described above, until 2020-08-24. FURTHER, I DO HEREBY give notice that you have a right to be represented by legal counsel or to have counsel provided and that if you qualify to have counsel provided, such counsel will be made available. Moreover, you may supply to the County Health Department the addresses and/or telephone numbers of friends and/or relatives to receive notification of your quarantine. At your request, the Oneida County Health Department shall provide notice to a reasonable number of such persons that you are being quarantined.
The County was sympathetic to the case and at the end of the day it was the County’s mistake in sending the wrong form. At the request of the traveler, the County Department of Health sent an official document stating to disregard the previous email.
But the real concern is having an official legal document with your name and home address identifying your home as a location that has COVID positive cases. And stating that you were disregarding precautions, and telling you you may want to lawyer up when all of that was totally inaccurate.
So the moral of this story is if you get a document like this from the County be sure to read it carefully to ensure that there is not a false record being created regarding your actions.
The County did tell the person this same mistake has happened to others. If this has also happened to you contact me via the Utica Phoenix website.